NJ DOT Pushes Mileage-Based Driver Fees As Gas Tax Alternative
It’s been nearly six years since a 23-cent-per-gallon increase in the Garden State’s gasoline tax lit up the phone lines and topped the news cycle at New Jersey 101.5.
With more and more electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads these days, and newer ones that still run on gasoline only becoming more and more efficient, the state Department of Transportation thinks it could another way to inflate infrastructure.
“You always have to run on the sidewalk,” said NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “You’re still running on a surface. So our infrastructure doesn’t change because the way the car is powered changes.”
The NJDOT isn’t sure it will work, but it’s now in several phases of a study in conjunction with the Eastern Transportation Coalition that is instead proposing mileage-based user fees for drivers.
Gutierrez-Scaccetti said a pilot program is looking for 400 or more New Jersey drivers to test the theory.
“If people aren’t participating and we can’t collect the data, it’s not that we’re not doing it, it’s just that we don’t know if it will work,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “And so instead of guessing, the idea here is to get enough data collected.”
Those who sign up have several options for monitoring their mileage, including a small device that plugs near the steering wheel, into a vehicle’s diagnostic port, which can be requested with or without GPS technology.
The volunteers would then return this device after 60 to 90 days on the roads.
Gutierrez-Scaccetti took care to assure drivers that their personal information would not be shared without their knowledge.
“All we get is an aggregated sum of miles traveled, and hopefully some who use the GPS feature will be able to understand in-state miles versus out-of-state miles,” she said. . “You don’t see it. It’s okay, it doesn’t bother you. You really don’t know it’s there once you plug it in.”
Anyone with a car and a valid state driver’s license is eligible to participate, even state employees, although they are not eligible for a $100 incentive to participate in the pilot.
To learn more, visit NewJerseyMBUFPilot.com.
Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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