Well, there are lots of strong feelings out there about transportation and how to pay for it and what we need. Let me respond to a few reader comments,

rrrr wrote:

By any measure, hybrids and other high mileage vehicles have a smaller footprint and should pay fewer gas taxes. Perhaps if the guzzlers paid their true share there wouldn’t be a shortage of funds.

Yes, those envirocars do have a smaller footprint but they use the system just like anyone else and add to the wear and tear of the system as well. We don’t want to penalize the envirocar but the question remains; when it’s 2020 and almost everyone is driving an envirocar, how will we pay for the transportation system that we need? Fuel taxes certainly won’t generate the amounts of money that are needed because people will be buying much less fuel, whether it be gas or ethanol or biodiesel.

And then we have a similar concern with a more dramatic suggestion.

Wyatt Earp wrote:

Never thought I’d see a red herring on a highway, but you planted one there with your comment on the envirocar not paying his fair share in revenues for roads. If that’s a problem, change the law so fuel taxes go to the general fund or are earmarked proportionally for roads. To do otherwise kills incentive for greener cars and brings up the spectre of a mileage tax. The day a mileage tax comes in is the day my target practice will pay off on the swine who ramrod it down the people’s throats. Have a nice day.

Wyatt brings up the very legitimate concern over the mileage-based tax that some people have advocated as a fair and equitable solution to the funding problem. This is a revolutionary idea and the mileage tax, in theory, should replace the current fuel taxes. The privacy issue is a big obstacle to this type of system; I’m not sure that drivers will be comfortable with the idea of big brother knowing where and when they drive. Nonetheless, this system is being tested in five cities across the country right now and San Diego is one of them. About 200 cars in the region are participating in this test.

Like it or not, change is occurring as we speak. The fuel taxes no longer provide enough revenue to maintain the current highway system, even at today’s high gas prices. That means that we must transfer money that should be used to build new infrastructure and devote it to maintenance expense. That is not a good thing and the situation will only get worse. So during the next several years, as we use the transportation bond money approved in November to build new roads and mass transit, we must develop a new funding system that is fair and equitable yet generates enough revenue to cover the costs of maintaining and expanding our transportation system.


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