Of all the most outlandish, ill-conceived plans to reach print, the Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) plan to charge per mile driven is one of the most insidious threats. The idea is dangerous on several levels. We can count the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transit Commission as the latest entity to seek to implement this scheme. In addition to being another money-grab by institutions that have yet to show they are fiscally responsible with the funds they already take, both our freedoms and our privacy are at stake.
Under this scheme, your car would no longer be a private vehicle. The plan is to attach a GPS type device to your car so ‘they’ can track your mileage. Beyond the fact that they get to invade the privacy of your vehicle, they then get to follow the driver of your car throughout the day, every day. The whereabouts of the driver (typically YOU) of your vehicle will be tracked on a grid, detailed, logged and analyzed. Your patterns and habits will be recorded and entered into a database that will reveal all sorts of information. Information ranging from where you usually buy your gas, to where you shop most often to whom you typically visit will be accessible in a report or graph that aids in creating a profile of your very life. Of course, the official story as related by the Congressional Budget Office is that there are proposals limiting the amount and type of information collected. Yeah, Riiiiight.
On the national level, another factor to consider would be the relative development of the various regions of the country. As mentioned by John Ellis in his 2011 article, people in areas with more developed public transit, who drive less anyway, would pay more than people who live in rural areas with less public transit. According to a study being carried out by the state of Nevada, currently 16 states have ongoing or concluded studies of VMT proposals .
Furthermore, this scheme is an assault on your freedom because it is a class issue. Although there are some comments on the very poor being excluded, who gets to choose the cut-off between the very poor and the poor? How is the decision between who is very poor and who is not to be made? Obviously, the upper and middle classes will be able to afford to drive more often, so they will enjoy more freedom to move about the city, state, region, or what have you. The lower middle class and the upper lower classes will be squeezed the hardest. To paraphrase South Bay cabbie Kevin Spencer, working class people would have to choose between their mortgage and driving .