As cars get more fuel efficient, they become a less profitable source of tax dollars. So what's a city to do? Raising gas taxes is certain political death. For San Francisco Bay officials, creativity is the key.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments are currently examining a plan to tax drivers by the number of miles driven instead of number of gallons burned. To do that, cars registered in the area would be fitted with a GPS device to track the number of miles traveled.

Drivers could be charged less than a penny or as much as a dime per mile. One estimate puts potential revenue from the system at $15 million a day.

If the thought of your city government knowing your every move sounds frightening, the Commission's spokesman, Randy Rentschler, says not to worry.

"The last thing we're interested in is where you go and what you do," Rentschler tells the Associated Press. "What we're trying to do is get people to figure out a way to raise revenue that they could support."

Still not convinced?Don't get worked up yet – it could take Bay Area governments as long as a decade to implement such an idea. By then we'll surely have flying cars, electric scooters or even molecular transporters.


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  • 148 Comments
      Black Dynamite
      • 2 Years Ago
      Between the expense of fitting everyone with GPS, and the associated monitoring costs, play the tax revenue LOST from residents LEAVING SF to avoid another tax, it's a must-lose situation. The PR hit would be devastating..... BD
      Gene Mack
      • 2 Years Ago
      With so many people afraid to get an EZPASS and still use toll booths so nobody can track their movement, I am sure this is going to go over well. "Randy Rentschler, says not to worry. "The last thing we're interested in is where you go and what you do,"" I am sure this is the truth - the Metropolitan Transportation Commission probably has no interest in where you go and what you do. But every other branch of government, from the local PD, to the Sheriff's office, Border Patrol, IRS and FBI certainly do. And they would love to have access to a government owned GPS in your vehicle. Even taking any nefarious uses from the government out of the equation, how long before they sell this data to marketing, advertising and data mining companies? Sure, "the information will not be able to uniquely identify you", as we are told in every other case of our info being sold. But they wouldn't be able to resist the huge money that would be given to them to access such a huge populations daily movements. And we know it is always easy to identify an individual from this type of data, even though we are assured it is not. This has to be squashed before it grows any legs at all!
        Gene Mack
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Gene Mack
        Thinking about it further, this may be a violation of Third Amendment, specifically the ruling of Griswold vs. Connecticut as it applies to our Constitutional right to privacy. That said, the law would have to be enacted, then someone has to bring a lawsuit against, then it has to move it's way up to the Supreme Court. A long, hard process. So, again, it must be squashed before it becomes law.
          ksrcm
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gene Mack
          "So, again, it must be squashed before it becomes law." Can't do that, how would lawyers get their cut otherwise? Wait a minute, why would legislators care about lawyers' well-being? Ah, yes, most of them ARE lawyers. But there's absolutely NO trace of conflict of interest there. We don't want to discriminate who can be elected as a public official, especially not on some stupid ground such as "conflict of interest", do we now?
      Walt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Only if we can also hook up a lie detector to every politician and fine them $100,000 per lie. National dept paid off in less than a year.
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Walt
        We already have a detector: listen to one of the mouthpieces on talk radio. If they repeat something their favorite politician said, you can be assured of the truthfulness...
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Walt
        We already have a detector: listen to one of the mouthpieces on talk radio. If they repeat something their favorite politician said, you can be assured of the truthfulness...
      buckfeverjohnson
      • 2 Years Ago
      So a gas tax is political suicide, but shoving a microscope up someone's a** isn't? In my state local governments have to get the state's permission before they can implement any new taxes, including sales taxes, gas taxes, or even new ways of assessing property values.
      PM
      • 2 Years Ago
      If they really want to do this (and i'm not saying whether they should or shouldn't), I would think they could just note the miles on the odometer when cars go in for emissions testing, not some invasive GPS tracker... Would also be a lot cheaper to implement.
        montoym
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PM
        The idea of misrepresentation occurred to me as well and it's probably on the top of their list as to why they should use GPS instead. However, they could just as easily implement a check wherein they verify a percentage of the odometer readings to verify that it's in line with what the owner entered. The possibility of a random check would ward off the majority of the offenses. Similar to how the idea of a potential audit keeps most people honest about their taxes as well. In any case, there are certainly far better ways of going about this than installing a GPS on every car in your district. I'm also interested in how they determined the tax rates ($0.01/mi to $0.10/mi) and how they determine who gets what rate and why.
        ShiftItManual
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PM
        My guess is they are worried about people tampering with their odometers to get out of taxes. However, I would think they could just have the vehicles periodically send their odometer readout to monitor for this instead of having to track vehicle lovation. It seems like that would be better accepted to me.
      space
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't care if it takes an a decade or 100 years. To hell with this idea!
      jonnybimmer
      • 2 Years Ago
      As if the $5 tolls weren't enough. "cars registered in the area would be fitted with a GPS device to track the number of miles traveled." So... we'd pay for these devices that are used to make us pay more? Pay to pay more? If this stupid plan ever went through, I'd expect a VERY high amount of people vandalizing these devices, and I'd be right there with them.
      Evan Hayden
      • 2 Years Ago
      As if it isn't already miserable enough to try to own a car in San Francisco...
      Tom
      • 2 Years Ago
      Living in the Bay Area is awesome. Unfortunately spend happy politicians seems to enjoy spinning up crap like this. Its remarkable...
      Dayv
      • 2 Years Ago
      What happens if some body modifications to a car "accidentally" block GPS signals?
      Howardsfb
      • 2 Years Ago
      I live in the Bay Area, and this proposal is already hugely unpopular; it will not be implemented any time soon. We're not all crazy here.
      xooberant
      • 2 Years Ago
      IF they charged for the ACTUAL wear & tear on the roads, I'd have no problem with the plan, as long as the tracking was certifiably anonymous. As proposed, this and all similar plans charge the same per mile for a one-passenger electric tricycle as for a 20-passenger Hummer limo. Once this blatant inequity is made clear to the public, these inherently unfair plans will be UNACCEPTABLE to most!
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