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2012-08-21 02:56:13.530344+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

Ugh. Another moronic "car sharing is the future" smart car article: Capital costs don't change our driving patterns, energy costs do.

[ related topics: Automobiles ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-23 14:44:38.250704+00 by: Dan Lyke

So a specific example of where a "per vehicle mile traveled" rather than a toll road (VMT) paradigm has caused problems: CalTrans is currently widening 101 north. They're doing the Marin stretch first, and then doing the Novato (north Marin) to Petaluma (south Sonoma) stretch. The extra Marin lanes have opened, and apparently the commute times have gotten worse.

Traffic engineers are just, in the past few years, starting to get samples of actual route use through in-vehicle probes. Had there been data that showed that there was a lot of traffic passing through Novato, rather than ending and originating in Novato, CalTrans could have started with the northern stretch.

Or maybe this is a play to make sure that the northern stretch gets funded.

In either case, we're going to get vehicle tracking: It'll either be with automatic license plate recognition, or it'll be with in-vehicle tax probes. Although even the second will want the first for auditing. I think it'll move billing to closer to using.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-23 13:57:01.684031+00 by: TheSHAD0W

And my experience tells me KISS is the best paradigm to follow. The more complex a system is, the more holes show up in it, especially when you have intelligent actors trying to thwart it.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-23 13:33:09.744271+00 by: Dan Lyke

See, that's the problem with trying to pull out externalities: Because I think billing differently for peak capacity use is what you'd do with any business. Airlines (yeah, I know, not a deregulated industry, but bear with me) either charge more for routes and times in high demand, or they add capacity. They do this with pricing models that let them fill as many seats as possible and make as few capital investments as possible.

I just think that publicly funded roads should operate similarly.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-23 01:55:38.212193+00 by: TheSHAD0W

And now I think you're trying to use government to manage human behavior.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-22 23:52:06.807391+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think fuel taxes would be a fantastic first pass, but (aside from the relatively solvable "what about (electricity|LNG|etc)" problem), I see a real externality issue: When roads are self-funding, there's an instant feedback loop to just keep building and raising fuel taxes. Traffic jams? No problem, raise fuel taxes, pave more area! Can't get somewhere? Roads are self-funding, let's build more of them?

Having the capability in the first place, and then just maintenance due to weather, is as much of a cost issue as wear on the roads, and we've already got completely bogus cost-benefit models justifying overbuilding roads and bridges that we can't afford to maintain.

So I think fuel taxes are still indirect enough that they don't solve the problem.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-22 23:13:52.853093+00 by: Larry Burton

Yeah, I like the idea of fuel taxes but the argument against changing that is that there is no way to tax electric vehicles. I think with smart grid technology coming online in the near future there is a way to capture charging data and tax that. The number of french fry cars on the market running on homemade fuel will never be high enough to worry about that small amount of leakage.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-22 22:58:38.888645+00 by: TheSHAD0W

There's a fair correlation between fuel used and damage to roads, and the whole thing could be done via fuel taxes.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-22 22:00:57.746995+00 by: Dan Lyke

Shadow, the problem with that to do that you have to find a reasonable way to bill for road usage. Per vehicle on road used, probably with some variation so you can bill extra for peak use versus spare capacity, seems like a perfect way to do that!

Try running the idea of vehicle mileage taxes, especially with in-vehicle probes to figure out this sort of road use around the same people who'd be for solving this problem by removing government regulations...

Try running raising user fees which actually pay for the roads and infrastructure past pretty much anyone else.

dexev, I suspect that you are an outlier, but I'd love to see data which proves me wrong.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-22 21:47:26.46269+00 by: TheSHAD0W

We've got government regulating vehicle behavior in so many different ways that trying to figure out what's better for whom is impossible. Insurance is based on vehicles rather than drivers. Ride share and contribute money? Presto! You're an illegal taxi service!

How 'bout get regulations out of the way and let people decide how to deal with their daily travel by themselves?

#Comment Re: made: 2012-08-22 18:13:24.41085+00 by: dexev

I think it's more complicated than that. At the margin, non-fuel costs are significant. For example, I spend twice as much on insurance each month as I do on fuel. Once I've paid for the month, I may as well drive. If I could use car sharing to fill in that 5% of the time when I really need a car, I would stop owning one.