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Proposed SoCal Tax Would Charge Drivers Based On Miles Driven

Heinous rush hour traffic on the 405 Freeway (Photo by marinov via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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A local government association wants Southern California to be a test site for a new tax that would charge drivers based on the number of miles they drive.The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), a city planning organization that represents L.A County and five others, passed a resolution asking Congress to replace the gas tax with this new tax by 2025, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. They want to use SoCal as a test site in the meantime.

Despite rising gas prices, the existing gas tax hasn’t been raised in 20 years, remaining at 18.5 cents per gallon. Even though we’re paying more at the pump overall, the Highway Trust Fund, which is fueled by that tax and pays for road improvements, will be dried up by July, SCAG said, with expenditures outweighing revenues from the tax.

This new tax would assess a driver’s mileage using their odometer reading and send a bill monthly or yearly.

Carrie Bowen, director of Caltrans District 7, which includes Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, said:

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“I don’t think the gas tax is working. More people are driving hybrid cars, and the improved efficiencies have reduced the amount of money we get for our highways.”

Bowen added that “those pennies, that dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to. We can’t maintain our roads with the money we have coming in,” she said at a transportation conference in the City of Industry Wednesday.

According to a Federal Highway Administration report, 1,200 bridges in L.A. County alone need repairs and have no money for them.

A miles-traveled fee pilot program has already been shown to reduce traffic during peak hours in and out of Portland by 10 percent. And since we have the dubious honor of having the worst roads in the country and the worst traffic in the country (and it’s only getting worse), it’s no wonder SCAG would consider this new tax to theoretically help fix roads and lessen traffic at the same time.