Readers React

Mileage fee beats the transportation status quo

To the editor: It's important to increase fuel efficiency and implement alternatives to fossil fuels. Government policy offers many incentives and regulations to encourage this turnover of the fleet. When it comes to repairing our highways, however, those vehicles wear down the pavement and take up the same space as vehicles that use conventional fuels, yet they increasingly pay little or nothing toward real system costs. ("Tracking miles as gas tax alternative raises fairness, privacy concerns," Dec. 6)

Hopefully we can achieve a consensus that those who use the highway system should pay for the damage they cause and the maintenance they require, rather than rely so heavily on regressive measures like sales taxes that soak those who use public transit instead of highways.

A mileage-based user fee would achieve just that. Let's begin the discussion of that approach, comparing it to the alternatives — continued degradation of our highways, raising taxes that burden payers out of proportion to their use or diverting money from general funds needed for other important social issues.

Geoffrey Yarema, Los Angeles

The writer is a member of the National Surface Transportation Financing Commission.

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To the editor: Is the state Legislature seriously considering replacing the gasoline tax with a mileage fee? Aside from the logistical problems of collecting such a fee, it would surely be a move in the wrong direction.

For years now we have been encouraging Californians to buy cars that use less gasoline. A mileage fee would reward those who drive gas-guzzling vehicles and increase costs for those who choose to drive electric or gas-frugal cars.

For more revenue to fix roads, I suggest increased registration fees based on fuel consumption. Many of our country's problems might disappear if we were not dependent on foreign oil.

Thomas B. Wills, Laguna Niguel

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