The Mileage Tax Genie Is Out of the Bottle

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.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

LaHood to Congress: It’s Time to Talk About a Gas Tax Increase

|
As Congress maneuvers to end the political impasse over the next long-term national transportation bill, lawmakers are going to have to debate an increase in the federal gas tax, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (Photo: Getty Images) In his remarks at a Fort Worth transportation meeting, first reported by the […]
STREETSBLOG USA

LaHood Reaches Out to Transit Industry, Lamenting ‘Lousy Economy’

|
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sought to commiserate with the cash-strapped transit industry today, declaring the Obama administration an ally of local rail and bus agencies even as the "lousy economy" clouds prospects for passage of a new long-term federal transportation bill. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (Photo: Getty Images) In an address to the American Public […]

Obama Administration Working on Its Own Six-Year Transportation Bill

|
The annual powwow of thousands of transportation workers, planners, and wonks that’s known as the Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference kicked off in the capital yesterday with a candid admission from some senior U.S. DOT officials: reorienting American transport planning to accommodate the overlap with housing and environmental sustainability is proving pretty difficult. U.S. DOT […]

In New Orleans, LaHood Unveils $280M in Streetcar and Bus Grants

|
During a visit to New Orleans, where city planners are seeking nearly $100 million in federal stimulus money for three new streetcar lines, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced plans to award $280 million in grants for streetcar and bus networks. New Orleans is counting on bonds, backed by sales taxes, to finance new streetcar […]

U.S. DOT Secretary Gets a Message on Pedestrian Safety

|
We’ve got a fine sampling of content from the Streetsblog Network today. First, Steve Davis at Transportation for America reports on the meeting T4A and several of its partners had with U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday. The meeting was to deliver a petition with more than 4,100 signatures gathered after last week’s release […]