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Future of Transportation Taxation and ways to move about the country

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Future of Transportation Taxation and ways to move about the country
Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 11:16 AM

There is a current thread "What's it going to take for HSR to succeed"  it is now at about 73 responses and lots of lookers; and I did not want to be seen as trying to co-opt that Thread' 

It is a topic(HSR) we have examined in this Forum in more than one visitation(some might say examined to death).     It is a timely topic, but seems to get mired down in other issues and opinions and becomes a bother to follow.My 2 cents

We are going to get some kind of HSR in some areas, and in some corridors. It is politically popular, and the pols seem to play with it constantly; in one way or another. It will be difficult to realoize and to overcome all sorts of political and social obstacles as it comes about. Everything from NIMBY's to who will run the Darn things, where and when, and so on,and on.

It is Passenger rail, and IMHO it is going to get here at some time.   A key issue is going to be where the monies come from to pay for whatever system we get ,and in what form it arrives.  There is also a current thread referencing the Billionaire financier Carl Ichan and his getting into the equipment building and providing aspects of this 'new' area of public transport; so I would guess that some necessary plans are afoot to start us down that slippery slope to HSR or more Passenger rail transport.

Here in our area (South Central Kansas) some time in the later part of 2009; there were advertisements for participants in a federally funded Uinv of Iowa study that was going to attempt to track with on-board monitors the traffic and driving patterns of this Region.    The ulitmate goal was to find ways to be able to assess new road use taxes based upon usage of those roads and drivers trip needs and the States abilities to track usage (mileage) for the purpose of leveling use taxes.

Here's a quote and link to the study web site:  http://www.roaduserstudy.org/

"...The University of Iowa Public Policy Center is conducting a federally funded study to see how the public responds to the new mileage-based road user charge system. We are looking for participants for this study to develop and test the best possible system for vehicle drivers. The study is very important, as this system could one day replace the gas system....

Participants in the study will have the on-board computer temporarily installed in their vehicles. This installation will not in any way damage the vehicle.  The computer will store a record of charges due from road use. This record will be uploaded to a data processing center. If the system were to be put into practice, the center would then bill the vehicle owner. For the study, however, no money will be collected..." 

And here is the title and link to the Univ of Iowa's web site on the National study:

Project Overview
National Evaluation of a Mileage-Based Road User Charge


http://ppc.iowa.uiowa.edu/dnn4/TransportationbrPolicyResearch/RoadUserChargeStudy/tabid/65/Default.aspx

 

 


 

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Posted by jeaton on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 11:41 AM

It is an interesting study and the concept of a direct user fee (nice euphanism for tax) will be a sap for those who insist that they only want to pay taxes for those things that provide them a direct benefit.

The idea has been previously discussed here on the forum and my thought that conversion to another system to collect could be very expensive.  In addition to the of the new black box that would have to be installed in every vehicle, the cost to install the infrastructure to collect the tax will probably bring the total to many billions.

Another wrinkle.  The current fuel taxes, licensing and fees, and tolls laid directly on vehicle owner/operators only pay about 65% of the total cost to build and maintain our streets and highways.  The balance is paid out of general tax revenues, property taxes and other miscellaneous revenue sources.  If all the street and highway cost was paid directly by the users, there would sure be a big jump in the cost of operating a car.

Hmmmm...

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:07 PM

samfp1943

Here in our area (South Central Kansas) some time in the later part of 2009; there were advertisements for participants in a federally funded Uinv of Iowa study that was going to attempt to track with on-board monitors the traffic and driving patterns of this Region.    The ulitmate goal was to find ways to be able to assess new road use taxes based upon usage of those roads and drivers trip needs and the States abilities to track usage (mileage) for the purpose of leveling use taxes.

Here's a quote and link to the study web site:  http://www.roaduserstudy.org/

"...The University of Iowa Public Policy Center is conducting a federally funded study to see how the public responds to the new mileage-based road user charge system. We are looking for participants for this study to develop and test the best possible system for vehicle drivers. The study is very important, as this system could one day replace the gas system....

Participants in the study will have the on-board computer temporarily installed in their vehicles. This installation will not in any way damage the vehicle.  The computer will store a record of charges due from road use. This record will be uploaded to a data processing center. If the system were to be put into practice, the center would then bill the vehicle owner. For the study, however, no money will be collected..." 

And here is the title and link to the Univ of Iowa's web site on the National study:

Project Overview
National Evaluation of a Mileage-Based Road User Charge


http://ppc.iowa.uiowa.edu/dnn4/TransportationbrPolicyResearch/RoadUserChargeStudy/tabid/65/Default.aspx

Regarding the above, here is a piece that I wrote in 2005 concerning the pay-as-you-go universal toll road concept that is moving forward on several fronts.  The purpose of this piece is to show where it is headed.  Tripmaster is just my term for the purpose of naming the concept at this time.  I have revised the dates to the perspective of 2010. 

.

.

.

   HOW WE FIXED THE TRAFFIC CRISIS;

Looking at history from the year 2025

 

IN THE YEAR 2010:  We are standing at the frontier of a brave new era in motoring.  We are told that the increasing fuel efficiency of cars is reducing the gas tax revenue that is needed to maintain and build roads, and that the remedy is to pay the tax by the mile rather than by the gallon.  It’s simple.  The State will install a GPS tracking device in our cars, which will communicate the miles we have driven to a computer in the gas pump when we fill up.  Then the tax will be charged and collected when we pay for the gas.  So we will still be paying the tax at the gas station, but it will be based on the miles driven rather than gallons consumed.  If you think about it, it really turns every road into a toll way and every gas station into a tollbooth.

 

TEN YEARS FROM NOW:  We will look back wistfully at the days when the only purpose for the government installed GPS tracker was to collect gas tax by the mile rather than by the gallon.  Let’s fast-forward fifteen years and take a look.  In the year 2025, the GPS tracker has evolved considerably, and is now called the TRIPMASTER.   The light rail transit fad of fifteen years ago has since been made obsolete by the development of this Tripmaster. 

 

Instead of a government run transportation system of trains and tracks, we now have a government system of personal transportation devices (PTDs).  We can choose from several makes and models, just as we always used to do with cars, but the Tripmaster makes today’s PTD a far different animal than the cars we once knew.  Although the PTDs are gas powered, rubber-tired, driver operated, road vehicles, just like the cars were, there has been a reduction of the higher levels of performance that were once popular with cars.  In fact, because the special communication and safety equipment of the PTD adds to its cost, that added cost is partially offset by a corresponding reduction in performance compared to the cars we once knew.

 

The Tripmaster doesn’t actually drive the PTD, it just oversees the operation of the driver.  Gone are the days of police watching for traffic violations, issuing citations, levying fines, and hoping for collection.  Violations such as red light running, and lane control are immediately detected and processed by the Tripmaster.   We have long been told that driving is a privilege, so we now must post a driving privilege deposit (DPD) to provide the security that tolls and any fines that happen to be levied are paid.  Fines are levied either as a one-time charge, or as a surcharge to future tolls at the discretion of the Tripmaster.

 

Today, our motoring adventure begins much like in the past, but with a few important differences.  We enter the PTD, fasten our restraints, and turn the key.  But instead of the engine roaring to life, the key simply opens a communication with the Tripmaster.  Our journey cannot begin until we have registered our trip plan with this cyber authority through his Trip Registration Wizard.  There is also the option of open voice contact that begins with a message stating the approximate hold time, usually about five minutes.   

 

With the more convenient wizard, we simply enter our destination and purpose, and the Tripmaster determines our route, and calculates the toll, which will automatically be deducted from our privilege deposit once the trip is finished.  The toll will vary according to the time of day, traffic density of the roads involved, weather conditions, purpose and necessity of the trip, the ability to pay, and the weight of occupants and non-human load.  These little PTD cars are smart, so they automatically measure and register these loads.  Once the Tripmaster states the toll, we simply hit “enter,” the Tripmaster unlocks our PTD, and away we go, just like a car.

 

It was only a few years ago that we had to watch our speed or the Tripmaster would deduct a fine from our PDP account.  But today, the Tripmaster simply limits our speed automatically to what has been established for our route.  We could not speed if we wanted to.   In addition to limiting our speed, the Tripmaster can change that limit according to such variables such as traffic density, weather conditions, work zones, and emergencies.  Speed control of vehicles is generally done according to conditions or zones so that all vehicles within that zone are limited to the same speed, however, the Tripmaster can also set the maximum speed for each vehicle independently, allowing different maximum speeds for two vehicles that are right next to each other for instance, giving one vehicle priority over another if necessary. 

 

Of course, it goes without saying that the Tripmaster can simply drop your speed to zero under the mandatory stop procedure, if there is reason to do so.  Usually, however, this procedure is only used for special circumstances such the detection of a released occupant restraint, the detection of smoke or food and drink aroma, or other distraction violations such as cell phone use or excessive conversation.   This procedure suddenly takes a PTD out of service, and parks it in a safety zone where it must wait for a visit from a traveling safety officer.  Only a few years ago, officials were worrying about how to get us out of our cars and into public transportation.   Who would have thought that the solution would be to simply leave us in our cars, and turn the cars into public transportation?

    

 

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Posted by ButchKnouse on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:46 PM

If they do it like Europe, they'll just tax the price of gasoline up to six bucks a gallon and use that for the transportation.

 Of course if you live in a rural area with no public transportation and you have to drive everywhere, you will be paying for something that does nothing for you.

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Posted by overall on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 1:00 PM

So, under "necessity of the trip", if I want to make a trip to the hobby shop to get that new Lionel steam locomotive I want, do I get charged extra for that?

George

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Posted by schlimm on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 1:22 PM

jeaton

It is an interesting study and the concept of a direct user fee (nice euphanism for tax) will be a sap for those who insist that they only want to pay taxes for those things that provide them a direct benefit.

The idea has been previously discussed here on the forum and my thought that conversion to another system to collect could be very expensive.  In addition to the of the new black box that would have to be installed in every vehicle, the cost to install the infrastructure to collect the tax will probably bring the total to many billions.

Another wrinkle.  The current fuel taxes, licensing and fees, and tolls laid directly on vehicle owner/operators only pay about 65% of the total cost to build and maintain our streets and highways.  The balance is paid out of general tax revenues, property taxes and other miscellaneous revenue sources.  If all the street and highway cost was paid directly by the users, there would sure be a big jump in the cost of operating a car. Hmmmm... 

 

Very true, except the folks living in the wide open spaces probably won't want to let go of the highway subsidy they've been receiving for years, courtesy of urban/suburban dwellers (see other posters).  The idea of using a black box to make everyone pay is a typical libertarian ploy to eliminate government functions.  By the same silly logic, someone who doesn't see the need for a large, expensive standing military (George Washington and Eisenhower opposed this) should be excused of paying for it.  In a broad, social contract way, we all benefit from many services from which we don't receive direct services.  Example: I (and many others on this forum) no longer have any children in school, yet the bulk of my property tax goes for education.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 1:46 PM

George,Bucyrus, Butch K :

       I would suspect (as we fast forward to a future time and date) that personal trips, now taken a whim to go anywhere, to do anything, will require an unaccustomed (in our current date and time) level of planning and coordination.

  Bucyrus mentions personal transportation devices (PTD's) for which we pay Driving Priviledge Deposits (DPD). I would further suspect that the cost of personal transportation will be almost prohibitedly expensive, to the point of sereral groups (Families, etc) sharing the same vehicle.

   With each vehicle equipped with some sort of a GPS tracking device (plus maybe a government monitored meter system). A Federal (or State) Revenue Tracking Agency would be monitoring and whoever was registered in that particular PTD for that specific destination would receive a Revenue Billing covering that trip. ( envision something like a Phone BIll or Cable TV bill). With a Basic Charge and a whole host of ancillary charges.

  The Sociological, and psychological implications of life in that Future stagger the imagination with all its possibilities of intrusion into every facet of our personal lives.   Particularly, if one chooses to use any form of privately (?) managed transport to get about.     Envision a world of Public Transportation utilizing anything from a Government owned PTD to Busses, and any form of tracked public transport imaginable; limited by the political imagination of Government Bureaucrats of the time- not to mention a vast set of user fees for those needing to get somewhere (costs/fees will be comensurate with the speed of travel desired). 

Science Fiction???  Look at what has happened to personal transportation in just the last 100 years!  You have to wonder if George Orwell was on to something,I certainly hope not.

  The one sure aspect of this whole scenario is that Amderican Taxpayers will get the bill for all the progress, and who knows how that will turn out. We all are aware that taxes never go away or decrease with time.   

  The days of just watching 844 or 3985 streak by with an Armour Yellow consist or some other tourist operation may very well exist only in old men's memories, worn copies of magazines(ie: TRAINS,etc.). Railfanning will be precluded by security restrictions and obnoxious enforcement that keep people so far from the tracks binocullars will not get a clear view of activity. Riders in public transport will be bombarded by all mannor of advertisements, whose revenue is used to keep prices low(?).My 2 cents

 

 


 

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Posted by henry6 on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 2:58 PM

Another passenger rail-transportation-subsidy question-no government intervention, only private enterprise thread-my politics are better than your politics on R:NR (Rhetoric: No Resolve).  Not a thread but another Merry Go Round!  Henschel closed shop North Tonawanda years ago!!

RIDEWITHMEHENRY is the name for our almost monthly day of riding trains and transit in either the NYCity or Philadelphia areas including all commuter lines, Amtrak, subways, light rail and trolleys, bus and ferries when warranted. No fees, just let us know you want to join the ride and pay your fares. Ask to be on our email list or find us on FB as RIDEWITHMEHENRY (all caps) to get descriptions of each outing.

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Posted by MP173 on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 3:04 PM

The printed "Trains" magazine would also become quite expensive under this scenario as it would be deemed "unrequired" and thus be subject to a user fee for transportation, thus moving content to electronic delivery.

The movement is happening now...my three daily newspapers are barely the equivelent to one paper five years ago. 

Gee, we havent even discussed health care yet, nor should we as that will certainly lead to lockage.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 5:35 PM

After reading the 'big brother takes over' scenario, I'm ROFLMAO!!!

Anyone who thinks that the rebellious, anti-government, computer-savvy population will simply stand there and let the government put them in a transportation straitjacket is hallucinating.  Just as soon as it becomes clear that such a movement is beginning, the rebels will come up with any number of ways to trash the electronics - anything from disconnecting one unit and wiring around it to loading up the account of their favorite politician or activist with bogus fines and fees to electronically gutting the entire system.

If individual hackers can create havoc through the internet, just think of the fun they could have with a transportation control system they have reason to hate!

Chuck

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Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 5:54 PM

henry6

Another passenger rail-transportation-subsidy question-no government intervention, only private enterprise thread-my politics are better than your politics on R:NR (Rhetoric: No Resolve).  Not a thread but another Merry Go Round!  Henschel closed shop North Tonawanda years ago!!

Henry6:

           Te ability to tax transportation for its use seems to be real issue on the horizon, As the linked pieces indicate.

          Many studies are mostly academic exercises, and go nowhere. Basicly, the linked studies show some efforts to identify hardware that can be used to create a data base that could be used as a resource for use taxation by Government entities.  I thought that the thread by Bucycrus showed a lot of thought on the subject.

    I started the thread hoping to read some feedback from some of the members here. There is a large body of knowledge represented here in this Forum; not only professional associations, but practical associations, and many members who read and keep up in their various areas of interest. 

   Hopefully, we do not fall into the trap of character assination or political points of view, maybe we can be fortunate to discuss this topic without the pitfalls,although they are on the edge of the conversation.

  We are not going to resolve this issue here, but maybe we can gain some thoughtful input as to this looming possibility of changing the way we all get about this country, and how we  pay for that priviledge.  You seem to have some pretty strong ideas as to what is going to happen to passenger rail.  I wish you'd share those ideas, Thanks. 

 

 


 

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Posted by blownout cylinder on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 6:14 PM

Back in my palmier days I hung around certain groups of social activists who, believe it or not, did actually think along the lines of a means of transportation control Bucyrus is mentioning here. These guys had joined several causes such as environmentalist groups as well as some other groups allied against the BIG OIL "conspiracy" and spent a lot of time coming up with things like this precisely for "social control". You should have seen some of the rants that were printed out in our mimeographs! OY!!

Now---some have jumped on this as a kind of strawman arguement but here we see that some groups did take it seriously enough to start writing about this in the open

Again----OYWhistling

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Posted by henry6 on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 7:08 PM

samfp1943

henry6

Another passenger rail-transportation-subsidy question-no government intervention, only private enterprise thread-my politics are better than your politics on R:NR (Rhetoric: No Resolve).  Not a thread but another Merry Go Round!  Henschel closed shop North Tonawanda years ago!!

Henry6:

           Te ability to tax transportation for its use seems to be real issue on the horizon, As the linked pieces indicate.

          Many studies are mostly academic exercises, and go nowhere. Basicly, the linked studies show some efforts to identify hardware that can be used to create a data base that could be used as a resource for use taxation by Government entities.  I thought that the thread by Bucycrus showed a lot of thought on the subject.

    I started the thread hoping to read some feedback from some of the members here. There is a large body of knowledge represented here in this Forum; not only professional associations, but practical associations, and many members who read and keep up in their various areas of interest. 

   Hopefully, we do not fall into the trap of character assination or political points of view, maybe we can be fortunate to discuss this topic without the pitfalls,although they are on the edge of the conversation.

  We are not going to resolve this issue here, but maybe we can gain some thoughtful input as to this looming possibility of changing the way we all get about this country, and how we  pay for that priviledge.  You seem to have some pretty strong ideas as to what is going to happen to passenger rail.  I wish you'd share those ideas, Thanks. 

The problem is that there is a handful of wags who say the same thing over and over and are refuted by several other same wags again and again.  There has to be at least three threads right now dealing with this same subjec and there has been I don't know how many more in the past year.  Too many on here are here to posture and argue with a bent toward keeping the arguement going by splitting hairs or making broad generalizations, sometimes in the same breath.  This is not a new thread but rather a thread transposing all threads before which will lead to the same rhetoric and eventually another thread to seem like it's a new topic. 

RIDEWITHMEHENRY is the name for our almost monthly day of riding trains and transit in either the NYCity or Philadelphia areas including all commuter lines, Amtrak, subways, light rail and trolleys, bus and ferries when warranted. No fees, just let us know you want to join the ride and pay your fares. Ask to be on our email list or find us on FB as RIDEWITHMEHENRY (all caps) to get descriptions of each outing.

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Posted by Falcon48 on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 10:24 PM

jeaton

It is an interesting study and the concept of a direct user fee (nice euphanism for tax) will be a sap for those who insist that they only want to pay taxes for those things that provide them a direct benefit.

The idea has been previously discussed here on the forum and my thought that conversion to another system to collect could be very expensive.  In addition to the of the new black box that would have to be installed in every vehicle, the cost to install the infrastructure to collect the tax will probably bring the total to many billions.

Another wrinkle.  The current fuel taxes, licensing and fees, and tolls laid directly on vehicle owner/operators only pay about 65% of the total cost to build and maintain our streets and highways.  The balance is paid out of general tax revenues, property taxes and other miscellaneous revenue sources.  If all the street and highway cost was paid directly by the users, there would sure be a big jump in the cost of operating a car.

Hmmmm...

  The question I would ask about the "65%" figure is whether this is a average of the cost recovery across all highway users, as I suspect it is.  I can't readily lay my hands on them, but I've seen studies showing that autos do pay their full costs, and then some.  But the heavier vehicles don't even come close.  If this is the case, what's happening is that auto users are cross subsidizing the larger vehicles, but the total amount collected in taxes is less than the total amount required.  It does make sense, as the infrastructure required for light vehicles such as autos wouldn't be as expensive as an infrastructure designed for heavy vehicles, and it wouldn't wear out nearly as quickly as roads that are beaten up by heavy truck traffic.  I've seen AAHSTO studies (I probably got the acronym wrong) showing that road degredation increases exponentially with vehicle weight (I vaguely recall an analysis showing that one pass of a heavy truck is equivalent in road damage to several thousand cars).   
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Posted by schlimm on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 11:08 PM

Falcon48
If this is the case, what's happening is that auto users are cross subsidizing the larger vehicles, but the total amount collected in taxes is less than the total amount required.  It does make sense, as the infrastructure required for light vehicles such as autos wouldn't be as expensive as an infrastructure designed for heavy vehicles, and it wouldn't wear out nearly as quickly as roads that are beaten up by heavy truck traffic.  I've seen AAHSTO studies (I probably got the acronym wrong) showing that road degredation increases exponentially with vehicle weight (I vaguely recall an analysis showing that one pass of a heavy truck is equivalent in road damage to several thousand cars).   

 

Wow!!  The truck folks aren't going to be happy if they see your comment.

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Posted by Railway Man on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 11:17 PM

Falcon48
  The question I would ask about the "65%" figure is whether this is a average of the cost recovery across all highway users, as I suspect it is.  I can't readily lay my hands on them, but I've seen studies showing that autos do pay their full costs, and then some.  But the heavier vehicles don't even come close.  If this is the case, what's happening is that auto users are cross subsidizing the larger vehicles, but the total amount collected in taxes is less than the total amount required.  It does make sense, as the infrastructure required for light vehicles such as autos wouldn't be as expensive as an infrastructure designed for heavy vehicles, and it wouldn't wear out nearly as quickly as roads that are beaten up by heavy truck traffic.  I've seen AAHSTO studies (I probably got the acronym wrong) showing that road degredation increases exponentially with vehicle weight (I vaguely recall an analysis showing that one pass of a heavy truck is equivalent in road damage to several thousand cars).   

Falcon48: 

AASHTO - American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials.

Not a "study" that compares road damage of cars vs. trucks.  That might imply there's some question about the matter.  There is no question.  The matter is proven by a major body of accepted research backed by several decades of real-world testing and overwhelming emprical data that captures the disproportionate wear on highways of trucks.

The unit of measurement for road damage is the ESAL - Equivalent Single Axle Load:

  • An 18,000 lb. truck axle = 1.0 ESAL
  • A typical car axle = 0.002 ESAL
  • A 24,000 lb. truck axle - 3.0 ESAL

As you can see, it is not linear with weight: it is exponential: highway wear is related to the load on the axle by a power of four.  Thus, if a car creates $1 worth of damage in X highway miles, an 18,000 lb. single axle creates more than $3,000 worth of damage in the same X highway miles.

Do truck taxes seem a little low, now?

RWM

 

* for further reference, see http://pavementinteractive.org/index.php?title=ESAL

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Posted by Falcon48 on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 11:37 PM

Railway Man

Falcon48
  The question I would ask about the "65%" figure is whether this is a average of the cost recovery across all highway users, as I suspect it is.  I can't readily lay my hands on them, but I've seen studies showing that autos do pay their full costs, and then some.  But the heavier vehicles don't even come close.  If this is the case, what's happening is that auto users are cross subsidizing the larger vehicles, but the total amount collected in taxes is less than the total amount required.  It does make sense, as the infrastructure required for light vehicles such as autos wouldn't be as expensive as an infrastructure designed for heavy vehicles, and it wouldn't wear out nearly as quickly as roads that are beaten up by heavy truck traffic.  I've seen AAHSTO studies (I probably got the acronym wrong) showing that road degredation increases exponentially with vehicle weight (I vaguely recall an analysis showing that one pass of a heavy truck is equivalent in road damage to several thousand cars).   

Falcon48: 

AASHTO - American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials.

Not a "study" that compares road damage of cars vs. trucks.  That might imply there's some question about the matter.  There is no question.  The matter is proven by a major body of accepted research backed by several decades of real-world testing and overwhelming emprical data that captures the disproportionate wear on highways of trucks.

The unit of measurement for road damage is the ESAL - Equivalent Single Axle Load:

  • An 18,000 lb. truck axle = 1.0 ESAL
  • A typical car axle = 0.002 ESAL
  • A 24,000 lb. truck axle - 3.0 ESAL

As you can see, it is not linear with weight: it is exponential: highway wear is related to the load on the axle by a power of four.  Thus, if a car creates $1 worth of damage in X highway miles, an 18,000 lb. single axle creates more than $3,000 worth of damage in the same X highway miles.

Do truck taxes seem a little low, now?

RWM

 

* for further reference, see http://pavementinteractive.org/index.php?title=ESAL

   Yep.  This is exactly the kind of stuff I remember seeing before.

The "public policy" aspect to this is that higher "user" taxes on autos can't be justified on the grounds that highway users aren't "paying their way".  Auto users are, in fact, "paying their way".  They're not only "paying their way", but they are also cross subsidizing a good portion of the highway costs imposed by heavy trucks.  The fact that the cross subsidy isn't enough to cover the deficit between the costs imposed by heavy trucks and the user taxes paid by them isn't a justification to increase auto user taxes.    

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Posted by jeaton on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 12:26 AM

What I was saying is that the total revenue collection from taxes directly applied to all users is only 65% of the total expenditures on streets and highways.  You might be correct that an increase on fees applied to vehicles other than automobiles, essentially trucks, might be needed for a closer tie between usage and cost.  Of course, the downside to that is that taxes charged directly to the carrier of goods is ultimately passed on to the consumer of those goods.  In some ways that might be considered a hidden tax on all purchaser of goods, even those folks who never venture outside of the doors to their home.  Not to say that thats bad.  I can't figure any other way for motor carriers to recover their costs, unless one expects truck owners and drivers to cover their costs from their income from their gold mines, oil wells and lottery winnings. 

I would still have to wonder if a "fair share" increase on trucker taxes would be sufficient to cover the rest of the full highway cost and leave no need for an increase on the direct taxes on automobile owners and drivers.  (Edit) After reading RWM's post above perhaps a "fair share" tax on truckers would make up the difference between direct taxes and total costs.

By the way, I always find the grumbling about gas taxes a somewhat humorous form of denial.  In Wisconsin, the gas tax is 51.3 cents per gallon and since I get about 20 miles per gallon, that makes my tax cost something under 3 cents per mile.  Now compare that to the Internal Revenue Services' figure of 55 cents per mile as the average cost of owning and operating an automobile.  Bet if you told the average American that we'll get rid the gasoline tax and drop the auto registration fee to the cost of mailing you the plates or annual sticker and replace it all with a highway user fee of just 3.5 cents per mile- "Where do I sign up?  I'll take two."

As for the system being an intrusion of the car owners privacy?  "Ve know how far you've driven, what time you left, where you went and when you went to bed last night."  If you use a transponder to pay fees on tollroads, you are required to provide your name, address, license plate number, preferably your credit card information and possibly your great grandmother's maiden name.  (Pretty much the same for a cell phone which, at least according to leading TV fictional crime shows, allows any law enforcement agency to find your phone and you- unless you left your phone in your other coat pocket).  Europeans think that is a big joke.  They can buy a tollway transponder and load the fund balance with cash and don't even have to say hello to the clerk that handles the transaction. 

Can you think of any reason why the box on the car that tracks mileage can't be loaded with funds in the same manner?

 

"We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo Possum "We have met the anemone... and he is Russ." Bucky Katt "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Niels Bohr, Nobel laureate in physics

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Posted by blownout cylinder on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 7:45 AM

jeaton
Can you think of any reason why the box on the car that tracks mileage can't be loaded with funds in the same manner?

There is no reason that it can't. But. If you have a bureaucrat who is something of a control freak he might have an excu---er---reason that's it! whew!Whistling to do both regardless of what we may think.

The transponders can be loaded up with all manner of things as well as cash. That is where we have to be careful. An activist style government may have an agenda that we may end up paying for right across the board.

Any argument carried far enough will end up in Semantics--Hartz's law of rhetoric Emerald. Leemer and Southern The route of the Sceptre Express Barry

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 8:52 AM

jeaton

They can buy a tollway transponder and load the fund balance with cash and don't even have to say hello to the clerk that handles the transaction. 

Can you think of any reason why the box on the car that tracks mileage can't be loaded with funds in the same manner?

Indeed, that is part of the vision that I outlined on page 1 where I refer to it as a Driving Privilege Deposit (DPD).  There is no way they are going to put all of this control into motor vehicles and then assume the cost of billing drivers and hope they pay.  But this will become about so much more than just taxation for roads. 

 

This will be micromanaging your driving to the extent that you might as well be riding a train or bus.  Much of the traffic law enforcement will be taken over by this automatic system as well.  If you run a red light, the system will know it and instantly deduct the fine from your pre-paid account.  When your account gets to zero, the system disables your engine.  This will transform the driving experience as though you have a highway patrol officer riding in your passenger seat.

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Posted by blownout cylinder on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 9:00 AM

Bucyrus
This will be micromanaging your driving to the extent that you might as well be riding a train or bus.  Much of the traffic law enforcement will be taken over by this automatic system as well.  If you run a red light, the system will know it and instantly deduct the fine from your pre-paid account.  When your account gets to zero, the system disables your engine.  This will transform the driving experience as though you have a highway patrol officer riding in your passenger seat.

When I was a youngling about 12 I had a book about automotive design that had a section about taking a trip in a car that figured out the route it would take to get you to wherever you wanted to go. There was some kind of a mention of controlling your speed and such as well. I guess these dreams of control were everywhere ----Whistling

Any argument carried far enough will end up in Semantics--Hartz's law of rhetoric Emerald. Leemer and Southern The route of the Sceptre Express Barry

I just started my blog site...more stuff to come...

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Posted by cacole on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 7:40 PM

People in the U.S. are always touting the European rail system as something to emulate without realizing how they are funded.  When I was in Germany with the U.S. Army from 1980-83 there was a 14 percent sales tax on every item purchased, called a Value Added Tax, and gasoline was taxed so much that a gallon cost almost $6.  It's probably higher today.

 

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Posted by erikem on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 9:02 PM

Railway Man
The unit of measurement for road damage is the ESAL - Equivalent Single Axle Load:
  • An 18,000 lb. truck axle = 1.0 ESAL
  • A typical car axle = 0.002 ESAL
  • A 24,000 lb. truck axle - 3.0 ESAL

 

 

RWM,

 Thanks for the quantitative information. I'd guess that the figures could be refined by taking factors as unsprung weight (more important for cars), trailer stiffness, etc into account, but as are good enough for policy making.

- Erik

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Posted by jeaton on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 9:42 PM

Bucyrus

jeaton

They can buy a tollway transponder and load the fund balance with cash and don't even have to say hello to the clerk that handles the transaction. 

Can you think of any reason why the box on the car that tracks mileage can't be loaded with funds in the same manner?

Indeed, that is part of the vision that I outlined on page 1 where I refer to it as a Driving Privilege Deposit (DPD).  There is no way they are going to put all of this control into motor vehicles and then assume the cost of billing drivers and hope they pay.  But this will become about so much more than just taxation for roads. 
 
This will be micromanaging your driving to the extent that you might as well be riding a train or bus.  Much of the traffic law enforcement will be taken over by this automatic system as well.  If you run a red light, the system will know it and instantly deduct the fine from your pre-paid account.  When your account gets to zero, the system disables your engine.  This will transform the driving experience as though you have a highway patrol officer riding in your passenger seat.

May we assume that you don't believe in the strict enforcent of traffic laws?   I think the majority of the driving public accept prohibitions against running a red light and other traffic regulations as reasonable law.  Perhaps except the person that frequently does, gets caught and pays a lot of fines. 

"We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo Possum "We have met the anemone... and he is Russ." Bucky Katt "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Niels Bohr, Nobel laureate in physics

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Posted by greyhounds on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 9:54 PM

Railway Man

Falcon48: 

AASHTO - American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials.

Not a "study" that compares road damage of cars vs. trucks.  That might imply there's some question about the matter.  There is no question.  The matter is proven by a major body of accepted research backed by several decades of real-world testing and overwhelming emprical data that captures the disproportionate wear on highways of trucks.

The unit of measurement for road damage is the ESAL - Equivalent Single Axle Load:

  • An 18,000 lb. truck axle = 1.0 ESAL
  • A typical car axle = 0.002 ESAL
  • A 24,000 lb. truck axle - 3.0 ESAL

As you can see, it is not linear with weight: it is exponential: highway wear is related to the load on the axle by a power of four.  Thus, if a car creates $1 worth of damage in X highway miles, an 18,000 lb. single axle creates more than $3,000 worth of damage in the same X highway miles.

Do truck taxes seem a little low, now?

RWM

 

* for further reference, see http://pavementinteractive.org/index.php?title=ESAL

Just as information....

The "General" (There are exceptions!) maximum gross highway vehicle weight in the US is 80,000 pounds.  This includes the weight of the cargo, tractor, trailer, fuel, driver, everything.

To get to this maximum the weight must be distributed perfectly over all five axles on a typical tractor-trailer combination vehicle.  The front, or "steering" axle of the tractor must have 12,000 pounds on it, the tractor tandem rear axles must support a totaf 34,000 pounds and the trailer tandem axles must support 34,000 pounds.  There are reasonable tolerances, but the weight distribution on axles of a full weight tractor trailer is, from front to rear, 12K, 17K, 17K, 17K and 17K.  The "general" maximum for a tandem axle is that 34,000 pounds.  A single axle, other than the steering axle, is limited to 20,000 pounds.

A way around the weight distribution problem is to space the trailer axles more than 10' appart.  At a spacing of 121" or more the axles are not considered to be a "tandem" but to be two single axles and each "single" can carry a weight of 20,000.   Spacing the trailer axles does not increase the 80,000 gross weight limit for the tractor trailer, but it does give flexibility in distributing the load since the trailer axles can carry 40,000 pounds instead of 34,000 pounds.  

"Well, the ICC is a checkin' on down the line, I'm a little overweight and my log book's way behind, but nothin' bothers me tonight, I can dodge all the scales all right, six days on the road and I'm a gonna' make 'er home tonight."

I would like those of you who think to think about this.  The US of A Government, 1) greatly hindered the railroads from competing with trucking by blocking the devleopment of domestic containerization for 50 years, 2) set up a subsidy for trucking.  Niether of these things was good for the people of the US of A.  These government actions wasted lot of fuel, tore up a lot of highway, and drove up the logistics costs in the country..  We've had to pay through the nose for all of this and it's hurt our competitive position in the world.  We are literally "poorer" because of these incredibly stupid government actions.

 

"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
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Posted by blownout cylinder on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 10:03 PM

jeaton

Bucyrus

jeaton

They can buy a tollway transponder and load the fund balance with cash and don't even have to say hello to the clerk that handles the transaction. 

Can you think of any reason why the box on the car that tracks mileage can't be loaded with funds in the same manner?

Indeed, that is part of the vision that I outlined on page 1 where I refer to it as a Driving Privilege Deposit (DPD).  There is no way they are going to put all of this control into motor vehicles and then assume the cost of billing drivers and hope they pay.  But this will become about so much more than just taxation for roads. 
 
This will be micromanaging your driving to the extent that you might as well be riding a train or bus.  Much of the traffic law enforcement will be taken over by this automatic system as well.  If you run a red light, the system will know it and instantly deduct the fine from your pre-paid account.  When your account gets to zero, the system disables your engine.  This will transform the driving experience as though you have a highway patrol officer riding in your passenger seat.

May we assume that you don't believe in the strict enforcent of traffic laws?   I think the majority of the driving public accept prohibitions against running a red light and other traffic regulations as reasonable law.  Perhaps except the person that frequently does, gets caught and pays a lot of fines. 

I'd assume he is in this case. The trick is in how it would be done. Consider that the transponder will NOTE this THEN out from your transponder account that $$$ goes. S/he'd be then short that $$$ and the transponder will shut down sooner. The person soon realizes that they need to obey traffic laws if they would like to continue driving. As he posted before driving is a privilege hence you begin to be more careful.

Another thing. A lot of driving that we do today would have to be very carefully planned out. If you are thinking of saving $$$ on your account that side trip you made may be better if it was part of a circuit that "allows" you to do a bunch of things in one trip rather than a bunch of out and back sorties. Another thing that may become an issue with some are those day trips with no particular place to go. That 3500 mile set of day trips that we took this summer may have a few extra $$$$ charged to us then----Whistling

As it is it may do a lot more than just micromanage driving habits. IIRC some of the idea that some of the people I hung around with way back when guys like Gordon Ratray Taylor and Paul Ehrlich were around included some black box that would control the trip mileage. Any trip taken had to be within a certain framework--beyond--would be nixed. Anyone care to imagine what tourism would be like?

Any argument carried far enough will end up in Semantics--Hartz's law of rhetoric Emerald. Leemer and Southern The route of the Sceptre Express Barry

I just started my blog site...more stuff to come...

http://modeltrainswithmusic.blogspot.ca/

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 10:15 PM

jeaton

Bucyrus

jeaton

They can buy a tollway transponder and load the fund balance with cash and don't even have to say hello to the clerk that handles the transaction. 

Can you think of any reason why the box on the car that tracks mileage can't be loaded with funds in the same manner?

Indeed, that is part of the vision that I outlined on page 1 where I refer to it as a Driving Privilege Deposit (DPD).  There is no way they are going to put all of this control into motor vehicles and then assume the cost of billing drivers and hope they pay.  But this will become about so much more than just taxation for roads. 
 
This will be micromanaging your driving to the extent that you might as well be riding a train or bus.  Much of the traffic law enforcement will be taken over by this automatic system as well.  If you run a red light, the system will know it and instantly deduct the fine from your pre-paid account.  When your account gets to zero, the system disables your engine.  This will transform the driving experience as though you have a highway patrol officer riding in your passenger seat.

May we assume that you don't believe in the strict enforcent of traffic laws?   I think the majority of the driving public accept prohibitions against running a red light and other traffic regulations as reasonable law.  Perhaps except the person that frequently does, gets caught and pays a lot of fines. 

I don’t know why you would assume that.  I think you are correct that the majority of the public accepts traffic regulations as reasonable law, but I also think that very few people actually live up to the letter of the law consistently as they drive.  Enough of them split hairs at traffic lights to make red light runner cameras awfully unpopular.  I would not expect the driving public to welcome the idea of an automatic fine every time they don’t quite pinch it down to a dead stop at a stop sign.   

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Posted by jeaton on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 11:35 PM

bc

Would a mileage tax really make that much difference?  Let's say that the 3500 mile trip was made in an "average" car.  At 55 cents a mile, the full cost of the car would be $1925.  At 20 miles per gallon @ $2.50 a gallon (we get by cheap down here), gas for the trip is $437.50.  At 50 cents per gallon, the gas tax is $87.50.  If we replace gas tax with a 3 cents a mile tax  the cost of the trip goes up by $17.50.  That's going to make a difference on the decision to make the trip?

I am willing to bet that a random survey of US drivers proposing as much as a 4 cents per mile driving "fee" to replace existing gas taxes would get a majority in favor of the deal.  Mention the pump price of "tax free"  gas and I'd bet you would get a 20 point jumb on the favor side.

"We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo Possum "We have met the anemone... and he is Russ." Bucky Katt "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Niels Bohr, Nobel laureate in physics

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Posted by blownout cylinder on Thursday, February 25, 2010 7:10 AM

jeaton

bc

Would a mileage tax really make that much difference?  Let's say that the 3500 mile trip was made in an "average" car.  At 55 cents a mile, the full cost of the car would be $1925.  At 20 miles per gallon @ $2.50 a gallon (we get by cheap down here), gas for the trip is $437.50.  At 50 cents per gallon, the gas tax is $87.50.  If we replace gas tax with a 3 cents a mile tax  the cost of the trip goes up by $17.50.  That's going to make a difference on the decision to make the trip?

I am willing to bet that a random survey of US drivers proposing as much as a 4 cents per mile driving "fee" to replace existing gas taxes would get a majority in favor of the deal.  Mention the pump price of "tax free"  gas and I'd bet you would get a 20 point jumb on the favor side.

It may not make that much of a difference. IF one does the reduction on the gas side, which I wonder if they would. Myself--I tend to think that any tax will be ADDED TO whatever is out there to begin with. Considering that this seems to be the prevailing behaviourWhistling

Now, if there is a reduction on the gas portion then I kinda think that your scenario might work out. The idea of a 'tax free' gas would sound interesting

Any argument carried far enough will end up in Semantics--Hartz's law of rhetoric Emerald. Leemer and Southern The route of the Sceptre Express Barry

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, February 26, 2010 7:06 PM

blownout cylinder

Bucyrus
This will be micromanaging your driving to the extent that you might as well be riding a train or bus.  Much of the traffic law enforcement will be taken over by this automatic system as well.  If you run a red light, the system will know it and instantly deduct the fine from your pre-paid account.  When your account gets to zero, the system disables your engine.  This will transform the driving experience as though you have a highway patrol officer riding in your passenger seat.

When I was a youngling about 12 I had a book about automotive design that had a section about taking a trip in a car that figured out the route it would take to get you to wherever you wanted to go. There was some kind of a mention of controlling your speed and such as well. I guess these dreams of control were everywhere ----Whistling

There has always been the vision of some sort of automatic system that would drive your car once you tell it where you want to go.  Usually, it involved some kind of electronic system embedded in the roadway.  But there has always been too much devil in the details to develop a practical system. 

 

What I am expecting with the concept that I described on page 1 of this thread is an overlay system that will monitor driver performance in several ways, but will not actually drive the car as a fully automatic system would.  I see this overlay system tracking each vehicle, controlling speed, and checking compliance with traffic control signals and signs, distraction rules, seatbelt use, turn signal operation, vehicle lamp performance, etc. 

 

Here is a link to a study on external speed control for vehicles:

 

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/vehicles/intelligentspeedadaptation/

 

The ability to set the tolls automatically will allow what is called congestion pricing.  Here is an overview of that concept:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congestion_pricing

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