White House floats driving tax

Traffic stacks up on the west- and east-bound lanes of the 210 Foothill Freeway near Los Angeles, Calif.

Jeremy Hobson: Well to the White House now which is pushing back against a leaked report involving a new driving tax. The Department of Transportation is reportedly looking into the idea of taxing drivers based on how many miles they drive, and using the revenue to maintain roads and highways.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports.

Eve Troeh: American highways need major repairs, and the flat, per-gallon gas tax won't cover it -- especially as people drive more fuel-efficient cars.

UCLA transportation professor Brian Taylor says in the past, we'd raise the tax.

Brian Taylor: The first response it, 'well that's a terrible idea -- I don't like that, what else do you have?'

Taylor says today it's feasible to charge people based on how much they drive.

Taylor: We now have the ability with GPS, with electronic systems that can track vehicles, to have drivers pay directly for how much they use the roadways.

But a tax on mileage could hit commercial trucking particularly hard, says Bruce Belzowski at the University of Michigan Transportation Institute. And we might all pay for that.

Bruce Belzowski: Because the added cost that you're charging these, the companies, many times gets transferred to the consumer in terms of the cost of products.

He says trucking companies invested heavily to meet federal fuel efficiency standards. Slapping them with a driving tax on top of that wouldn't be fair.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.


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