pulling your weight

An old idea, perhaps, as it’s mentioned elsewhere on this pile of cruft, but it maybe belongs here.

Given that our public infrastructure — roads, bridges, etc. — are in sad repair, partly due to reduced expenditure and partly due to higher loads — more and heavier vehicles, it’s time to find a better way to collect the funds needed to maintain it all.

Right now, the purchaser of a large vehicle — glorified pickup SUV, large luxury car — will get hit with a “gas guzzler tax” at the time of purchase, but does that really impact the purchasing decision? Just roll the tax into the financing and who cares? Hardly a disincentive to buy one. But what if the tax were felt regularly, like at the gas pump?

If every vehicle reported its curb weight to the pump at fillup time, a tax could be assessed based on that, as either a weight or as a class of vehicle. Imagine paying a dollar or more per gallon based on the size and weight of your vehicle, or the schadenfreude of the more sensible driver at the next pump. Commercial haulers pay road use taxes, many thousands of dollars worth: now that many people drive commercial weight vehicles, why not assess the same way?

This would have the obvious effect of collecting funds that are currently not being collected, but also the more helpful effects of convincing drivers to either change to a less costly vehicle or keep it in good running condition.

Feb 12, 2009

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