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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/3677/britain-to-introduce-pay-by-the-mile-satellite-toll-system-for-roads/

Britain to Introduce Pay-by-the-Mile Satellite Toll System for Roads

June 6, 2005 by

British drivers may soon pay by the mile for their use of public roads in the U.K. According to this article, the British government is seriously considering the implementation of a system where individual vehicles would be tracked by satellites in order for individual road-use fees to be assessed.

While this news is likely to raise the hackles of privacy advocates who will undoubtedly lament the state’s possession of such information, it also demonstrates the feasibility of individually-tailored fees for the use of roads. This type of technology, in the hands of private-transportation entrepreneurs, could facilitate more streamlined private transit provision, and offers an answer to those opponents of the free market who almost inevitably object to private ownership/management of roadways with comments about the inconvenience of toll-roads and the stop-start nature of their access ramps.

{ 12 comments }

sam June 6, 2005 at 4:12 pm

in exchange they might have to take off a tax on consumption?

tz June 6, 2005 at 4:33 pm

This way, they can preserve revenues which many states lose when people move to more efficient cars.

They can then tax bicycles and maybe even hikers.

Andy D. June 6, 2005 at 5:05 pm

How imbecilic. People are affected by taxes from the percent of their income they pay in taxes. If it some sort of constant rate based solely on use, then what a great way to backdoor tax the poor and middle class.
I laughed for about 2 minutes straight from your comment sam…

And europe wonders why they have double-digit unemployment and negative GDP growth! They very-well could tax themselves to death!

Dick Clark June 6, 2005 at 5:29 pm

I agree that this sort of revenue augmentation provides an opportunity to effect a back-door tax increase. The article I cited above, however, refers to Alistair Darling’s (the Secretary of State for Transport) “insistence that the scheme would lead to no overall increase in the level of taxation as road taxes and fuel duties are reduced or abolished.”

Gee, it seems like tax abolition always gets phased out of such plans, doesn’t it? I guess we’ll have to see.

Another interesting aspect of this plan is to use a sliding scale for usage fees which would apply higher prices for usage of a road during times of highest congestion. The possibility of premium lanes (presumably less congested) being available for an additional charge is also an interesting item discussed in the article.

David White June 6, 2005 at 5:55 pm

Andy D writes: “If it [is] some sort of constant rate based solely on use, then what a great way to backdoor tax the poor and middle class.”

That’s what a user fee, as opposed to a tax, is, and in confusing the two you essentially espouse the subsidization of car culture at the expense of mass transit, which “the poor and middle class” — as well as “the rich” — would use far more of if the market were allowed to reign in this regard. That is, we would see far more sprawl-inhibiting transit-oriented development (http://www.reconnectingamerica.org/html/TOD) than we do today for the simple reason that it would make more economic sense.

Laugh at that.

Justin Ptak June 6, 2005 at 7:41 pm

The overlooked aspect is that most countries already have a pay-by-the-mile system in the form of a gasoline tax. The state just doesn’t have the capacity to collect data on everyone’s comings and goings via satellite in a systematic way.

averros June 6, 2005 at 8:40 pm

The GPS-based toll collection schemes have a very serious drawback – the GPS signals are weak and can be jammed by a simple electronic device. Oh, and this will disrupt GPS service to nearby people who actually benefit from it. Anti-jamming police, anyone?

Actually, even some tinfoil around the antenna will be quite sufficient to block the signals.

And, of course, the GPS device itself has to be tamperproof, which makes it kind of expensive.

What that proposal entails is creation of a massive enforcement bureaucracy and imposing significant costs onto consumers. All for the sake of collecting decidedly stupid tax (the gasoline tax, at least, encourages improved fuel efficiency, while the route-based taxation will encourage taking cheaper but longer roads).

Andy D. June 7, 2005 at 12:52 am

Yes Dave, I do espouse the free market use of Autos. “Mass transit?” You mean completely inefficient and disgusting? In addition, something which probably wouldn’t exist in the vast majorities of cities that have forced its existence with higher taxes, and even confiscation of homes and land?

Transit oriented development, there are a million rhymes and reasons we “need” socialism isn’t there David White? If only the world was led by omnipotent economic man-gods….Thanks for telling me where I “should” live and how I “should” get to work. I’d “like” to believe I can figure that out by myself.

Instead of laughing at the unfortunate seriousness of that website, I’ll chuckle at your Orwellian use of a “user fee” vs a TAX!

Dewaine June 7, 2005 at 2:13 am

Instead of laughing at the unfortunate seriousness of that website, I’ll chuckle at your Orwellian use of a “user fee” vs a TAX!

Posted by Andy D.

..And I’ll chuckle at the fact that people will eventually be taxed on the air molecules they exhale, as measured by satellite infrared technology, because they are using a finite resource they should have been paying for all along!

Andy D. June 7, 2005 at 1:02 pm

It’s not the finite resource, which air isn’t, that meaures worth, it is the ownership and market price.
It would be extreemly difficult to homestead all the air..

What a horrible day it would be if a government claimed ownership to air! geez!

billwald June 9, 2005 at 1:41 pm

Libertarians should favor “use” taxes.

Ehren October 20, 2005 at 8:38 am

Two words: gasoline tax.

It is the most simple and efficient means! I think that while in theory it COULD be done, there are many things like maglev trains, a tunnel under the ocean, a tax on the amount of time citizens use public parks, etc. that could be implemented. The cost of this system would be immense. The effect would not be nearly percise and the cost would not be as recoverable whereas a tax has little administrative costs and is nearly instantaneous in effect.

Yes, people at lower incomes would be more affected, but then that’s what public transportation is for: it is another form of transportation with lower costs.

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