“The current revenue structure has been usurped by vehicle technology and government policy on energy and views on mobility in regional areas. As an alternative, a vehicle miles traveled fee is assessed on the number of miles a vehicle travels”

miles traveled fee. The former is by exten- sion the existing funding structure in place. A legislative share of taxes on gas pur- chased go into transportation trust funds at the federal, state and local levels to build, improve and maintain our system of roads, bridges, transit and pedestrian and bicycle facilities. A threat to our federal trust fund is insolvency, revenues are not on pace with expenditures. We, however, wouldn’t be a modern society without the capitalization that was our nation’s transportation vision during the second half of the 20th Century. This revenue structure has been usurped

by vehicle technology and government policy on energy and views on mobility in regional areas. As an alternative, a vehicle miles traveled fee is assessed on the number of miles a vehicle travels. Electric vehicles do not pay a fuel tax but contribute to wear and tear on roadways. A vehicle miles fee will rec- tify this inequality. Challenges to applying this alternative abound, but it is doable and an economical option to a revenue based fuel taxes that are not sustainable. Within the realm of physics, capital- ism is sustained by growth in the supply of


resources. In a 21st Century transportation system, they do not have to grow but evolve, become more productive and innovate. Take the cost of computer technology of the past 50 years. It has grown exponentially, become vastly more productive in use and applica- tions and costs have precipitated due to innovations.

HARD DRIVE The computer technology industry will drive this century with unforeseen changes. My best example is Uber. Five years ago, über was a German word meaning ‘over’ or ‘above’. Now it means an entity valued at over US$50 billion. These types of changes will continue in the ever-faster pace of soci- ety and as what we mean by transportation and personal mobility evolves. The appli- cation of technology in transportation is evolving at a faster rate each year because of technology. Automakers are transition- ing into hybrids, a blend with Silicon Valley. Several carmakers are either in partner- ship with a software company, a firm that produces materials and hardware or going into this market on their own. The same is

 Tech revolution: five years ago, “uber” was just a German word – now it’s a multi-national £50bn concern; technology will drive this century

happening in the reverse direction with computer technology companies. General Motors is in partnership with Lyft. These financial and technological changes

in the transportation ecosystem will benefit the environment and policy. Using technol- ogy to improve our transportation system will reduce the carbon footprint of motorized vehicles, help to reduce greenhouse gas and climate change. Another byproduct of tech- nology in vehicles is that it can help to reduce the number of traffic crashes and fatalities, which have been proven to be the province of human error or poor driving skills. The unintended consequences may force

policy makers to re-imagine the type of transportation system they want for their community. Beyond capital projects with ribbon cutting and their attendant elements (i.e., construction jobs, sales revenue, votes) it will be a matter of principle, thus a transpor- tation system that is safe, benefits the envi- ronment and is efficient.

Eric T Hill is a transportation consultant and the CEO/President of Gaman and Associates, LLC.

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