Controversial mileage-based tax has potential to generate meaningful transportation revenue

Car On Road

Despite its potential to increase revenues, the establishment of a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax is not likely to happen any time soon, Transportation Nation reported.

One reason may be commuters’ concern for privacy. According to a study released last week, 86 percent of Washington metropolitan area commuters don’t want a GPS device installed in their vehicles. However, Rob Puentes, a transportation policy expert at the Brookings Institution, assured skeptics that measures can be taken to insure drivers’ privacy.

Puentes also noted that a VMT would allow an individual’s tax dollars to go directly to the roads he or she uses most often.

“If you are driving on the Beltway during rush hour consistently adding to the traffic on those highly congested roads, you’d be paying more, and then those revenues would go back to the road you are using,” Puentes said.

Though it may not appear as transportation revenue for several years, VMT is gaining traction. Oregon is undergoing a state pilot program for VMT, while Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer pushes a bill to make the Treasury Department study the tax option. And in 2010, California approved it as a method of pricing car insurance, which State Farm now uses.