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The Mileage Tax Genie Is Out of the Bottle

10:41 AM EST on February 23, 2009

Last week, Obama DOT Secretary Ray LaHood caused quite a buzz by discussing, in an interview with an AP reporter, the idea of taxing motorists on the number of miles they travel rather than the amount of gas they burn. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs quickly came out and publicly contradicted LaHood, saying a miles-driven tax "is not and will not be the policy of the Obama administration."

2412864382_422c656585_m.jpgPhoto by kbaird via Flickr.

That hasn't stopped members of the Streetsblog Network from debating the idea and analyzing whether it has any prospect in the foreseeable future. As The Transport Politic said:

The problem with the gas tax system is threefold: for one, it hasn’t changed since August 1993, meaning that its relative value has declined over time as inflation has taken its toll; second, people started driving less beginning last year; and third, as people drive more and more fuel efficient cars -- and eventually electric ones -- the fund will lose a large percentage of its revenue since people will not be buying as much gas as before. Mr. Gibbs’ quick response, then, doesn’t answer the United States’ long-term transportation-funding dilemma...[it] seems less thought out than we should expect from an administration that claims to be concerned about the steadily increasing deficit.

The National Journal has opened the question to its panel of transportation professionals, and it should be interesting to see how that thread develops.

Other highlights from the network: WalkBikeCT notes an experimental solar-powered radar camera that snaps pictures of speeding drivers in West Hartford, and The Urbanophile sings the praises of Chicago. Plus, Hub and Spokes writes about "Where Things Are, from Near to Far,"  a children's book for budding planning geeks.

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