From the department of unintended consequences: When drivers consume less gasoline, because they’re using either fuel-efficient cars or, eventually, cars that don’t use gasoline at all, gas tax revenues go down. Yet the roads are still in just as much use, and need just as much maintenance and repair. (Well, maybe a little less, if the cars are lighter and do less damage to asphalt. But not much less.) When road repair and maintenance is funded by a gas tax, it might be logical to consider other methods of generating money to repair and maintain roads besides a gas tax, as Oregon is doing, cf: Oregon looks at taxing mileage instead of gasoline.
The proposal mentioned in the article is that some sort of metering device be installed in cars that can be read in gas stations, where the tax would still be collected. Some critics complain of other unintended consequences, such as privacy concerns. Also, some say it takes away an incentive to use an alternative-fueled car, because it won’t be any cheaper if you have to pay a mileage tax instead of a gas tax when you don’t use much gas. Then again, it’s not exactly fair to use up the roads when your car will do just as much damage, is it? Oregon’s test project is still in early stages, and it would take years before any system was implemented, so there is time to work out such issues.
I guess they could rebuild all the roads into toll roads, but that might be a wee bit cost-prohibitive and disruptive.