Blaming EVs 4clogging hov/carpool lanes> toll$ will ri$e
Roadshow: California to test mileage-based fees
By Gary Richards 11/02/2014
John Glenney, 62, of Lexington, Ky., drove his Tesla Model S across the United States using only the company's Supercharging stations. (Bay Area News Group)
Q Will you please explain how the new law Gov. Jerry Brown just signed that will charge drivers in California for every mile a car drives will work? When will this go into effect?
A Don't panic, for nothing is going to happen overnight. A few weeks ago Brown signed into law the first test of a proposal to charge drivers by the number of miles driven. The bill creates a panel to oversee a pilot project that could be in place by 2018. California now becomes the largest state to consider charging VMT fees (for vehicle miles traveled).
Details have yet to be worked out, but Oregon will soon be testing a VMT fee beginning July 1. Details on that program:
It applies only to vehicles that get 55 mpg (electric and select plug-in hybrids) and are model 2015 or newer.
Oregon drivers would pay 1.5 cents for every mile they travel in the state.
The 5,000 drivers are all volunteers.
This will not replace Oregon's state gas tax, but will be another way to collect road fees.
Officials in other states are also looking at VMT fees and they'll all be watching California, where 17 percent of the nation's car sales take place.
Why the push to another way to pay? Gas use has declined steadily since 2005 as fuel-efficient and alternative energy cars have flourished. A decade ago, Californians consumed nearly 16 billion gallons of gas annually. That figure dropped to 14.5 billion last year. And the state gas tax has not been raised in 21 years.
Q Why are only gas-type vehicles being taxed and not electric or hybrids? All of us use the same roads, and it seems only right that all should participate equally in their upkeep. Am I missing something here?
A You make a good point, and that is what a VMT fee would rectify. The idea is that since hybrids and electric cars pay less in taxes, a tax based on the number of miles driven would make them pay their fair share.
Q How about doing a report on how electric vehicles are clogging up carpool lanes? Before, a carpool lane was used for two or more plus motorcycles and transit buses. But now it is also for electric vehicles with carpool stickers, which defeats the purpose of a carpool lane because it has almost become a regular lane. Do electric vehicle owners need a lane specifically for them?
A They'll have it until 2019, when this perk will end, unless the Legislature again extends it, as it has three times. As of Sept. 23, the DMV has issued the 55,000-maximum green decals allowed by law, and 15,000 more will be available Jan. 1. Applications for green stickers will continue to be accepted at this time, but new ones cannot be issued until after Jan. 1. And 57,914 white decals have been given out. There is no maximum for them.
Over the past four years California drivers have purchased more than 100,000 plug-in electrical vehicles. Bottom line: Carpool lanes will continue to jam up. And when solo drivers can buy their way into more diamond lanes, tolls will rise to keep traffic in those lanes moving.
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