WASHINGTON -- Congress should initially tax automated-vehicle travel at a penny per mile to help fund future infrastructure improvements required for the safe operation of driverless cars, a leading transportation think tank suggests.
The cost to users would be roughly equivalent to the 18.3-cent-a-gallon federal gasoline tax (24.3 cents for diesel) and shouldn't dissuade people from using driverless vehicles, which are expected to rely more on electric drivetrains, according to a report from the Eno Center for Transportation.
Lead author Paul Lewis said a vehicle-miles-traveled fee on automated vehicles would supplement the gasoline tax and overcome a key sticking point of VMT schemes: how to track the distance each individual automobile travels and how to charge the driver. The authors assume that autonomous vehicles would operate mainly in managed fleets, where taxes could be collected along with the user charges.
"The politics is much easier than a traditional VMT," Lewis said during a web briefing. "If you were to put a VMT fee on automobiles today, it would require 150 million different accounts with all the cars that are on the road, not counting buses and trucks."
Identifying a revenue stream for future infrastructure programs is part of the Eno Center's 18-point framework for governments at all levels to implement policy covering automated vehicles.