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Blog: A Commuter's Response to the VMT Proposal

Brian Edwards gives a commuters' perspective on the proposed Vehicle Miles Travelled tax on drivers.

Are you familiar with VMT? It is the acronym for Vehicle Miles Travelled and a radical plan from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission would tax Bay Area drivers up to 10 cents for every mile driven.

I first read about this when I opened my Oakland Tribune. A 2005 study shows that the total miles driven in the Bay Area will increase from 150 million to over 200 million per day in the year 2030.

At the current rate, over $15 million dollars in tax revenue would be raised per day. The plan would require a GPS-like device to be installed into your car to track mileage. 

I commute about 35 miles a day round-trip into Newark, and put on about 20,000 miles a year on my car. At 10 cents a mile, the annual tax would cost me $2,000 a year. It would be about $3.50 a day in tax to drive to work, basically doubling the cost of a gallon of gas. (Maybe I would finally drop the Starbucks/Peet's addiction that I have and spend the money on VMT.)  

A tax like this would hit different groups harder than others, especially those living on a fixed income. Also, it seems to me that some cities would benefit more from this plan than others.

Cities with BART and other train stations will have easier access for commuters accross the Bay Area. Cities without a regional trasit option would have a harder time attracting customers from outside their city.

I live walking distance to BART in San Leandro, yet I don't take public transportation to work. With the current BART/AC Transit routes it would take me about 90 minutes to take public transit versus 30 minutes for driving. 

I have a few questions that came to mind when I read the article. I know it is still early in the discussion, but:

  1. What are the implications to the Newpark Mall becoming a regional shopping destination? 
  2. What are the implications to small business, deliverymen, and service companies?
  3. Would the transit tax also be transferred to the consumer through surcharges?
  4. Where does all the money go?
  5. If our education system is losing funding, do we spend the $15 million/day solely on transportation? 

This may be a long ways away, but it is something we should start asking questions about.   

So what do you think? Do you think we should charge an additonal tax to fund public transportation and road improvements? Share your thoughts in the comment sections below.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paul Vargas July 20, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Oh hell NO This is just another ruse to increase the pay and pensions of Government Workers. Oh sure there will be potheads, fools, and simpletons who serve as the useful idiots of the Government Workers, but this will be devastating to the economy. Anyone who suggests otherwise is either an idiot, a Marxist or both.
David July 20, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Vehicle miles traveled is down. Note the year of that study, they just took the growth rate from the booming Bush economy and extrapolated. Americans are driving fewer miles than we were in 2007. Thanks Barry!
Brian Edwards July 21, 2012 at 12:21 AM
David, I don't know if they use another study that wasn't listed on the website; but per the Oakland Tribune "The VMT tax could raise up to $15 million daily, as Bay Area drivers combine to travel about 150 million miles each weekday, led by Santa Clara County (40 million miles) and Alameda County (30 million miles)." I was looking on their website for the most current figures, and that was the most recent published study they had. Any current data to share would be appreciated!

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