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Massachusetts may tax drivers' mileage using GPS chips?

Massachusetts may tax drivers' mileage using GPS chips?

Old Feb 18, 09, 3:34 am
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Massachusetts may tax drivers' mileage using GPS chips?

BOSTON - A tentative plan to overhaul Massachusetts' transportation system by using GPS chips to charge motorists a quarter-cent for every mile behind the wheel has angered some drivers.

"It's outrageous, it's kind of Orwellian, Big Brotherish," said Sen. Scott Brown, R-Wrentham, who drafted legislation last week to prohibit the practice. "You'd need a whole new department of cronies just to keep track of it."

But a "Vehicle Miles Traveled" program like the one the governor may unveil this week has already been tested — with positive results — in Oregon.

Governors in Idaho and Rhode Island, as well as the federal government, also are talking about such programs. And in North Carolina, a panel suggested in December the state start charging motorists a quarter-cent for every mile as a substitute for the gas tax.

"The Big Brother issue was identified during the first meeting of the task force that developed our program," said Jim Whitty, who oversees innovation projects for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "Everything we did from that point forward, even though we used electronics, was to eliminate those concerns."

A draft overhaul transport plan prepared for Gov. Deval Patrick says implementing a Vehicle Miles Traveled system to replace the gas tax makes sense. "A user-based system, collected electronically, is a fair way to pay for our transportation needs in the future," it says.

Patrick, who had yet to settle on any of the ideas contained in the draft, told reporters last week, "I like any idea that is faster, cheaper, simpler."

The idea behind the program is simple: As cars become more fuel efficient or powered by electricity, gas tax revenues decline. Yet the cost of building and maintaining roads and bridges is increasing. A state could cover that gap by charging drivers precisely for the mileage their vehicles put on public roads.

"There needs to be a new way of thinking about, `How do we pay for all of this?'" said Richard Dimino, president of A Better City, a business-friendly group that considers transportation issues.

"One of the ways is thinking about the automobile like a utility: When we turn on our automobile and use it, we would be charged like we do when we turn on the lights and we start using electricity."

In Oregon, the state paid volunteers who let the transportation department install GPS receivers in 300 vehicles. The device did not transmit a signal — which would allow real-time tracking of a driver's movements — but instead passively received satellite pings telling the receiver where it was in terms of latitude and longitude coordinates.

The state used those coordinates to determine when the vehicle was driving both within Oregon and outside the state. And it measured the respective distances through a connection with the vehicle's odometer.

When a driver pulled into a predetermined service station, the pump linked electronically with the receiver, downloaded the number of miles driven in Oregon and then charged the driver a fee based on the distance. The gas tax they would have paid was reduced by the amount of the user fee. Drivers continued to be charged gas tax for miles driven outside Oregon.
The rest of the news article:

http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/200902...e/mileage_chip
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Old Feb 18, 09, 6:38 am
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Just found some decent $30 GPS blockers that plug into the cigarette lighter. Guess I should stock up. I'll need a mini one for my motorcycle
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Old Feb 18, 09, 6:45 am
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Glad I left (or at least am in the process of leaving) that insane state. Next they'll want their residents to wear house-arrest-style ankle bracelets so they can charge a toll for the sidewalks!
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Old Feb 18, 09, 2:53 pm
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Where is this country heading?
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Old Feb 18, 09, 2:55 pm
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Bloody hell! Why not just sew one to your willie so that they can collect sinn tax?
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Old Feb 18, 09, 7:58 pm
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Sounds fair to me. You pay more road tax for more use of the road.
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Old Feb 18, 09, 9:36 pm
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Where did Massachusetts go so horribly wrong between the 1770s and now? Did every single libertarian-minded citizen head west in the 1800s or something?
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Old Feb 19, 09, 1:40 am
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Dagnabbit! Don't tell the California Legislature!
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Old Feb 19, 09, 6:52 am
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I guess anyone who wanted to live free has moved away from Mass. and into New Hampshire. The remainder must love to be tagged and tracked.
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Old Feb 19, 09, 7:11 am
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I agree.

However, by using a device that can, in addition to determine the number of miles traveled, and on what category of road, your whereabouts could conceivably be tracked and I'm thinking this might not go down too well. Allowing this, will make the following conversation a fact of life a few more years down the road...

Of course, if you have nothing to hide, comrade citizen, you won't mind if I insert this rather large GPS chip and battery pack in an orifice of your choice. Now, where would you like it?
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Old Feb 19, 09, 1:59 pm
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With the concerns about Big Brother duly noted, I pose this question:

In 20 years, it is not out-of-the-question to think that a significant portion of vehicles on the road may be electric powered or else very-high mileage hybrids. Since highways are largely built and maintained through taxes on motor vehicle fuel, then how do you build and maintain highways when "fuel" is no longer dispensed in easy-to-measure gallons (i.e. at gas pumps)?

One option is the mileage tax.

Another option is to make every road a toll road (i.e. use electronic tolling for every road, not just turnpikes). This too would raise Big Brother concerns since you could just as easily track someone's movement by monitoring the toll transponders.

So that brings us back to Square One. How do you fund roads when hardly anyone is buying gas? It's not a pie-in-the-sky hypothetical question...it's just a matter of time.
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Old Feb 19, 09, 5:11 pm
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I suppose next they'll make us put numbered tags on our cars so they can photograph the numbers when we speed or run red lights, and you won't be able to park illegally anymore.

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Old Feb 19, 09, 5:14 pm
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Originally Posted by fairviewroad View Post
So that brings us back to Square One. How do you fund roads when hardly anyone is buying gas? It's not a pie-in-the-sky hypothetical question...it's just a matter of time.

Instead of electronic, wny not just have someone report the mileage once a year and tax that way. A person can do the reporting at the same time as their annual emissions test. Just trying to think of way to prevent tracking.
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Old Feb 19, 09, 6:02 pm
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I agree that the mileage could be accounted for when we get our annual inspection. But, what if we drive 40% of the miles out of state? is it fair for the Commonwealth take money for miles travelled in other states?

We've had a sorry slate of pols here in MA and it shows... Good thing I'm spending my last winter in this dreaded Commonwealth of Taxachusetts

don't even get me going on mandatory health insurance...
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Old Feb 19, 09, 11:33 pm
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Originally Posted by rkkwan View Post
Sounds fair to me. You pay more road tax for more use of the road.
You already pay for use of the road through all the taxes on each gallon of gas; which may be going up in CA by .12 per gallon.

If they follow in Oregon's footsteps then they will also charge you more for driving during rush hour. The charges would be collected electronically when you fill up at the gas station.
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