• Buttigieg nominee for Secretary of Transportation

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by John_Perkowski
From my Twitter feed
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
  by justalurker66
https://www.rollcall.com/2020/12/15/pet ... iden-pick/

... Biden has picked one of the few former Democratic presidential rivals to outright endorse a transformative change to how highways are paid for. The choice was reported earlier by Reuters and other news organizations, citing people familiar with the decision.

Buttigieg, who beat out former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to receive the nomination, was one of the few 2020 presidential contenders to outright endorse converting from the current Highway Trust Fund, which is paid for through the gas tax, to a “vehicle miles traveled” alternative that would tax drivers based on their road mileage.

(BTW: For those having problems - it is Boot-Edge-Edge ... or Boot-A-Judge depending on the accent.)

It appears he and Biden are on the same page as far as building up infrastructure and in the process creating jobs.
  by photobug56
How would a mileage tax work? As a related question, does he have decent knowledge of transportation issues above and beyond what a mayor would? Just thinking out loud, many of us have certain pieces of knowledge - maybe you know freight rail well, or track in a region, or, perhaps from a commuter view both in city and suburbs like me, have some level of transit bus, subway, and commuter train knowledge , perhaps bits and pieces of Amtrak. IOTW, I'm no expert, but pay attention enough to know more than a lot of fellow commuters. He's a lot younger than me, was a military officer as I recall and as mayor did have some responsibility. Perhaps that and being a good manager. But I don't know. I don't want to think in political terms but whether he could do this job well. And that I think is a fit top for discussion here.
  by justalurker66
South Bend is the eastern terminus of the South Shore commuter rail out of Chicago. It has a decent size city bus system and regional trolly style buses connecting to the next county. There is an interstate passing through the north side of the city (I-80/90 Indiana Toll Rd) and a couple of major US highways that are limited access (US 20 and US 31). The article I linked pointed out the leap from the budget size of South Bend to the Dept of Transportation - but seeing who he passed to get the job speaks well of PE Biden's trust in Pete. This is not like he is getting the nuclear codes. He will probably do fine.

As far as the proposed mileage tax, I'm not sure how one would verify but some system where you reported your mileage when filling out your taxes would be possible. There are a lot of things people report on their taxes where the filer doesn't have to prove their numbers - unless audited. Mileage is tracked by the states when people buy and sell cars (title transfers).

As we move toward alternative fuels the question arises as to how electric car owners pay road taxes. With roads paid for by gas taxes is there a separate federal tax for those who drive without paying gas taxes? Or is that some sort of bonus for not directly polluting the air by burning gas? (Electricity comes from somewhere - and it isn't all clean sources.) One has to pay for the roads some how. Might as well be a fee on the users.

BTW: A South Bend company recently announce the introduction of Electric Last Mile Solutions - ELMS - which are electric delivery vans intended to provide last mile delivery such as Amazon, FedEx, UPS, etc. Short range vehicles that never get too far from their home electric outlet expected to put millions of miles on the roads. Without paying federal gas taxes?
  by David Benton
We have road user charges here , its pretty simple. you buy a 1000 mile (k's here of course) sticker, which for the first time would start at the current mileage on you odometer. Say you start with 500 miles on the odometer , the sticker would have 500 as a start , 1500 as an end . you can buy any multiple of 1000 in advance.
When you reach 1500 miles you buy another sticker. Police will check them if you are pulled up , and also at certificate of fitness inspections. Commercial and other heavier vehicles have wheel hub odometers, also heavy trailers have one too.
the rates per mile are calculated on the amount of damage/ wear the vehicle is likely do to the road. Hence , heavy truck s pay alot more per k.m .
https://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/licen ... r-charges/
  by ExCon90
As to the mileage tax, Pennsylvania requires an annual inspection by an accredited service station or dealership repair department, at which the odometer reading is recorded, so it should be a simple matter for the DMV to report it to the tax department. At least in theory that should be watertight. Motor carriers and railroads are "deputized" to inspect their own vehicles (subject to spot checks) and sticker them, so some shenanigans would be possible there; oversight and fines would be necessary, but it could work.
  by John_Perkowski
Admin note...

I posted it because SecTrans governs the FRA, and has duties to Amtrak. Highway will matter to rail, especially if the government moves to more people paying for roads.
  by bostontrainguy
All that mileage talk reeks of Big Brother to me. Is that a Federal Tax? Some states (more red ones probably?) don't have vehicle inspections.
  by ConstanceR46
I somehow don't feel confident a former McKinsey consultant who's thoroughly neoliberal will have the best interests of Amtrak in mind.
  by Backshophoss
Most major trucking fleets track miles from the GPS tracking /Electronic Driver logs,and with passive GPS tracking on their trailers,thru 3rd party vendors,aka Qualcom.
  by Gilbert B Norman
First, regarding Highway Fuel Use Taxes, any vehicle used in interstate commerce will pay Highway Use Tax to each State over which it operates. Thus it matters not where the vehicle fuels up; eacg state will get their "cut". If a vehicle fuels up in a particular state, it pays all applicable fuel taxes at the pump, but gets a credit for such (had an interstate trucking company as a client).

This is unlike "you and I in our four wheelers" where we buy gas in one state, that state "gets it all" regardless of where we roam. Back when I took road trips up to Jan '20, I always made it business to fuel up in each state through which I passed. No law saying you must do so, but "that's just me".

Now to Pete and the rails - and in particular passenger rail. As I noted over at the Amtrak Forum, what I believe will be of interest is who Joe appoints as FRA Administrator, and who in turn within the agency is Chief in the Office of Rail Policy Development. That is where Administration policy for railroads - freight and passenger - will be formulated.

I'd be much more concerned about that chain than whether or not Pete (I'm sure he will get confirmed; Reps will want to save their Howitzers for the big seats like Defense, State, Treasury, and AG) is pro rail or "otherwise".

Finally, Mayor Pete delivered a "very forthright" acceptance speech:

  by D Alex
Somehow, I doubt "Amtrak Joe" is going to let Amtrak's funding get reduced, so stop worrying about that. As for "how a road use tax would work", all you have to do is look at over-the-road commercial trucking; they've been doing just that for decades.