Long-time Santa Monica Council Member and Metro Board Member Pam O’Connor has been appointed to a California Transportation Commission task force exploring milage-based user fees in the state.
California and the federal government currently raise money for transportation projects by taxing each gallon of gasoline that motorists purchase. The problem is twofold: no one wants to raise those taxes and vehicles have become more fuel efficient in recent years, meaning there has been a big decline in tax revenues collected. At the same time, the cost of transportation projects keeps going up.
A few words about Pam: she’s a frequent transit rider who has served on the Santa Monica Council since 1994 and recently completed another term as the city’s mayor. At Metro, she represents South Bay and other Westside cities on the Board. She’s long pushed for transit and other mobility options — and I think it’s a good thing to have someone at Metro have a seat at the table while a potentially landmark shift in tax policy is discussed and developed. Here’s her full bio.
Mileage0-based user fees would tax motorists based on the number of miles they drive. Such fees have been tested in other states and proponents argue that such fees would be more fair (i.e. those who use roads the most get taxed more) and would also raise the kind of revenues needed to maintain and build transportation infrastructure.
Of course, how to tax motorists is a crucial bit of public policy, especially for Metro, which like all transportation agencies relies heavily on money raised by gas taxes at the state and federal level. The task force that Pam is joining is charged with developing a pilot program that will evaluate mileage-based fees for fairness and effectiveness.
Categories: Policy & Funding