Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Jan. 22

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

What’s Los Angeles like eight years from now, mayoral candidates? (L.A. Times) 

The Times asks five candidates for the mayor of Los Angeles for their vision for the nation’s longest city in the year 2021 — after, presumably, eight years of their leadership. Here are videos of their answers, which include frequent mentions of traffic and transit although specifics are missing (the videos are less than two minutes each). The mayor of Los Angeles gets an automatic seat on the Metro Board of Directors along with three appointees. That, of course, gives the mayor a nice measure of influence, the reason that voters in the city of L.A. who care about Metro should also care about who is the next mayor.

Open thread: big dig alternatives analysis released (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The Alternatives Analysis was released late Friday afternoon for the SR-710 project, which proposes to improve traffic in the area around the 710 gap between Alhambra and Pasadena. Streetsblog looks at the five options: no build, transportation systems management improvements, a bus rapid transit line between downtown L.A. and Pasadena, a light rail line from East L.A. to Pasadena and a freeway tunnel that would close the existing gap.

By the gallon or by the mile? States look for new highway revenue (KCET) 

D.J. Waldie looks at the idea of charging motorists taxes based on the number of miles they drive versus the gas tax. The problem is that tax revenues are declining or have flat-lined because vehicles are getting better fuel mileage. The by-the-mile tax has been talked about for quite some time and probably makes sense. But I think this will happen about the same time the federal government gets rid of the mortgage interest deduction — which is to say it’s an extreme longshot.

2 replies

  1. Taxation by miles driven has some interesting assumptions:

    1) Each vehicle puts the same wear on a road. Emily mentioned a small-scale example. Now consider that a tractor-trailer driving the same distance puts 800 times the wear on a road that a sedan does. It’s fairly likely that a certain trucking union would lobby very hard against a tariff 800 times that of a car. Also consider that someone using a motorcycle emits far less than a car and puts even less wear, but would pay the same.

    2) New tariff schemes are being tested locally and by states, not Federally. No two states will be in the same point of tariff for at least a decade, and there is no Federal talk about this at all. That also means a resident of one state working in another will pay disproportionately to the home state not getting the same wear on the roads.

    3) Gas taxes are based on the moment of purchase. Does each drive then become a transaction?

    4) If the odometer is not the method for conducting measurement (as it is illegal to tamper with an odometer but not to replace other parts of a car), what anti-hacking schemes will need to be present? How will this work with antique cars?

    5) Why can’t we raise gas taxes or peg them as percentages of the price? They’re crazy low because they’re fixed amounts per gallon of gas sold, not as a percentage of the price. This meant a 22¢ burden was a lot when gas cost $1.00/gal, but now it’s negligible with cheap gas at $3.60/gal. If a state doubled its gas tax (as Massachusetts had a few years ago), few people would notice.

  2. I think we need to change it by factoring the weight of the vehicle and by annual miles driven.

    A Hummer should pay more than a Mini Cooper. It only makes sense because Hummers are heavier cars so they contribute to more damaged roads than a Mini.

    In addition however, the Mini Cooper which racks up 20,000 miles a year on the odometer should pay more than a Mini Cooper that logs only 10,000 miles a year. It only makes sense that even though they are the same make and mode, the Mini Cooper which uses the roads more often should pay more.

    Since car owners have to register their vehicles annually anyway, it shouldn’t be that hard to report odometer mileage of the vehicle at the same time as well.