Road Charge Pilot Program: Statements and Social Questions
By Kelly Garman, Director of Government Affairs
I continue to be fascinated by the mechanics of this pilot program. I’ve now received two monthly statements, both showing that if this road charge program were fully implemented, I would be saving money.
In other words, according to the results of this pilot program, I am currently paying more tax on gas when I fill up my 24 gallon Toyota Sequoia than I would be if I didn’t have to pay at the pump and was solely “billed” at a rate of 1.8 cents per mile (which, according to the information found on my statement, is the equivalent to the five year historical average of California fuel excise taxes).
The idea of being “billed” to drive is something worth discussing. Currently, I fill up my tank every 10 days or so, not differentiating in the slightest the money I spend to actually pay for the cost of each gallon of gas and the money I spend that is handed over to the state of California to support transportation infrastructure (the taxes I pay at the pump). It isn’t broken out on the pump’s screen, detailing where the $60.00 ends up. My checking account simply says how much I paid, and frankly that is all I have ever paid attention to.
Now that I see how much I would be paying per mile (should this pilot program be fully implemented) and how much each individual trip costs me (something I have never tracked before), I wonder if such information would change travel behavior for the general public. On one hand, paying for gas at the physical pump would be less expensive. Would my mind cheer and not cringe when filling up my tank?
On the other hand, the idea of receiving a bill, in the mail or electronically, for the miles I drove in the previous month makes me question the consumer’s appetite for such a thing. While currently the gas tax is sort of hidden, I wonder how Californians would react to receiving a bill, seeking payment.
The road charge pilot program is a significant societal shift. And the more I talk with others about my participation, the more I understand the importance of addressing early certain concerns that the every day, non-political driver is raising. I think I’ll talk more about the things I am hearing from others in my next post.