Should California charge for driving on roads?

January 19, 2016


California drivers are bearing the burden of the state’s transportation funding crisis, with the average driver spending more than $500 a year to repair the wear and tear on their vehicle caused by bad roads. Gas tax revenues currently fund most of the state’s road maintenance and repairs, but gas tax revenues are declining as cars become more fuel efficient and as drivers adopt hybrids and electric vehicles. Caltrans estimates the funding gap to be about $5.7 billion per year for the state highway system alone.

Unless we address the transportation funding shortfall immediately, the funding gap will only widen. Lawmakers are working on a short-term solution to maintain our roadways and we will have to depend on the gas tax for the immediate future.  However, gas tax revenues will continue to fall behind our transportation funding needs over the longer term.  We must ultimately find a new transportation funding model that better reflects today’s realities.

One potential solution is the road charge. Under a road charge system, drivers pay by the mile rather than by the gallon. Whether you drive a gas-guzzling truck or an all-electric sedan, the road charge is the same per mile. Everyone pays their fair share. Several other states are already testing the road charge concept, and we must explore it further in California to determine if it is the right solution for us.

The state has already taken steps to begin exploring a road charge system. Senate Bill (SB) 1077, signed into law last year, requires California to study the feasibility of a road charge in a statewide pilot that includes a variety of volunteers from all regions of the state. To help ensure the parameters of the pilot meet California’s unique needs, SB 1077 also established a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to design the pilot with the benefit of robust public input. The TAC includes experts in telecommunications, data security and privacy, as well as highway users, business and consumer advocates, elected officials and academic researchers.

In 2015 the TAC conducted a robust stakeholder outreach process to seek feedback and input on the design of the pilot. The TAC held 12 public meetings throughout California and invited residents all over the state to attend a meeting or comment through the TAC’s website. Additionally, the TAC invited over 400 stakeholder groups and 130 elected officials to participate in the process, and it consulted a Road Charge Work Group made up of representatives from local government, vehicle manufacturers, fuel distributors and highway users.

After carefully reviewing all of the feedback and input gathered, the TAC released its final recommendations for the design of the pilot in early January. Some of the highlights of those recommendations are that the pilot should:

·         Give drivers multiple options to report miles driven

·         Provide non-technological options for those who choose to report their miles manually

·         Protect driver privacy and personal data

·         Measure the impact of a road charge on rural and urban drivers

·         Require no cost to participate

The pilot is now scheduled to launch this summer and aims to recruit 5,000 participants that reflect the geographic, demographic and socioeconomic diversity of the state.

Because it has been rigorous, this endeavor gave us the opportunity to carefully examine and develop a set of recommendations that reflect the unique nature of our state. While we know the current gas tax system will not keep pace with state and national needs in the future, we also know the development and implementation of a sustainable long-term solution will take time to deliver. That is why we should all do our part by signing up for the pilot. Together, we can help the state determine if paying by the mile is the right transportation funding solution for California.

For more information visit

Jim Madaffer is the Chair of the Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee and a member of the California Transportation Commission.


You are obviously a statist on public welfare and there will never be enough money for parasites like yourself


“Jim Madaffer is the Chair of the Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee” and a member of the California Transportation Commission.

what does he get paid for that?


He is a public parasiste.


is he one of the guys leaning on a shovel?


Uh, we already do?

December 28, 2015 gasoline price breakdown:

Distro, marketing & profit: $0.283

Crude oil cost: $0.843

Refinery cost & profit: $1.123

State underground storage tank fee: $0.020

State & Local Sales Tax: $0.062 «— Here (for state and local roads, etc)

State Excise Tax: $0.300 «— and here (for state roads, etc)

Federal Excise Tax: $0.184 «— and here (for interstate roads)

RETAIL PRICE (ave): $2.825

Obviously, SLO has a MUCH HIGHER retail price, due to MUCH HIGHER local taxes. There are also MORE taxes for DIESEL, FYI. There are also vehicle license fees (taxes), license plate fees (taxes), and registration/renewal fees (taxes).

So your REAL question should be:


Hope that clears it up.


exorbitant salaries, benefits, pensions, paid time off, 20 holidays a year, a plethora of worker comp claims, and lawsuits against their state employer because they want more money. that’s where the money goes. now they need mo money for the actual roads.


and that doesn’t include beer at lunch?


Wait until they want to rebuild the sewer infrastructure.

just the facts

Just a reminder…this is also a very big personal privacy issue. Government and its bureaucrats/technicians will be extremely concerned about your personal carbon footprint due to so-called climate change. The bureaucrats/technicians will know how many miles you are driving in you car, how much gas you are using, and where you are going. As some of you may know, there are soon-to-be ‘smart cars’ which will be added to the long list of everything ‘smart’: ‘smart tvs’, smart phones’, ‘smart appliances’, ‘smart meters’, including ‘smart cities’ and on and on! All will be connected by computers in this coming new age called technocracy. It will be a means for government bureaucrats/technicians to control our personal lives. Mark my word!


Enforcement would be a joke. Just another fine to slap on a motorist if caught and additional community service or jail time imposed. That is all.

A plot to keep our California jails full, ensuring job security and enabling nonprofits to pretend to provide effective result-oriented services with manufactured data, raking in the dough. Scamming the government, basically.

I used to believe in nonprofits until I saw how Capslo operates after changing their name from EOC, Economic Opportunities Commission. The hiring process chucks education experience out the door and appears to be largely based on friends hiring friends, a direct result of the chaos produced by unstructured, organic mis-management.

It’s all about who you know here, and if you don’t go along with any filth you discover going on, then out you go along with your reputation.

Unfortunately the neo-economic culture seems to be laiden with filth. People lining each others’ pockets for favors. A society based on affluent Freeloaders.


They already do…they are called taxes! I thought we had a surplus. why isn’t that surplus being spent on road improvement????


browndoggle bullet train?

Jorge Estrada

Only in California can such a kakamayme idea get printed. So now that it is open season for crappy ideas, it would make better sense to put a flush meter on the toilet and charge per flush for fewer bumps in the road.


This is very counter to our state culture. I believe road charges would be met with resistence. How about instead we divert state funds from the welfare system we provide state employees to fixing our infrastructure. We are at a point where there is no money for the employees to do anything because it all goes to their wages and retirement. The more money we pay them the less they have to work. And they are pretty useless now.


Great idea, just as soon as our Gov installs no charge gas pumps. Ya know something like the free electric car charge stations I see in SLO, Atascadero etc,etc. Their essentially free gas for the Tesla and Pre’ass owners isnt it? This premeditated government screwing is getting old. Gotta love Omalleys comment in the last debate where he said climate change is the likely the biggest money making opportunity in American history.The Gov finds a disease or delima and our bank accounts are always the cure.

Ralph Snart

Don’t forget. They also get to use the carpool lanes with just one occupant. Most other states actually charge an electric vehicle fee just for these purposes. Washington charges an extra $100 every year for an electric vehicle. California is still liking the back windows of the short bus.