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Road Usage Charge: A pilot-turned-policy that could take WA down the wrong road



in one minute mark well we had okay that's fine and I'm doing a quick intro it's just butter no two minute and 30 seconds she gets it right they're all identified all right we're going to get started thank you all so much for being here my name is Maria frost and I'm the transportation director at the Washington Policy centers Kohl Center for transportation this is our transportation center session so the Kohl Center for transportation researches and analyzes best practices for relieving traffic congestion with specific focus on highway and transit projects and how tax dollars are spent we support people getting to the places they want to go the way that they want to get there not the way that government planners want them to get there we are not Pro transit or pro car or pro any mode we are pro movement our principles inform how we analyze policy so for me at the Kohl Center these principles are five folds number one tie spending to performance measures like congestion relief respect people's freedom of mobility deploy resources based on voluntary market demand improve freight mobility and encourage the utilization of public-private partnerships to fund and maintain transportation infrastructure and increase value to taxpayers today we're going to spend about 50 minutes talking about a policy area that we have been writing about since 2017 the Road usage charge or mileage-based user fees this is our state's effort funded by federal grant dollars to replace the state fuel tax on each gallon of gas that you buy with a charge for every mile that you drive we have three panelists who will each present their positions they'll get 10 minutes each and then we will spend some time answering your questions and I will share our position at the very end so on the far my far right is Randal O'Toole who is a senior fellow with the Cato and specializing in land use and transportation issues he has written six books and numerous papers on these subjects including gridlock why were stuff stuck in traffic and what to do about it and his very latest romance of the rails why the passenger trains we love are not the transportation we need prior to working for Cato he taught environmental economics at Yale UC Berkeley and Utah State University in the middle is Chad Dorn scythe who is the executive director of the best highway safety practices Institute a nonprofit that provides professionals policymakers the media and public with data and best practices to advance roadway safety he's also the owner of the highway safety group and has been part of the National motorist Association which he is here on behalf of for 28 years chad is a research author a registered lobbyist and regulatory agency liaison a member of the Institute of Transportation engineers and a Vietnam US Navy veteran and then directly to my right is former representative mark Harmsworth mark served as a city council member for two terms and a Washington state legislature for two terms and part of that time as a lawmaker he served as ranking member of the House Transportation Committee mark currently works on transportation issues in the greater Puget Sound and is also a research fellow for the Washington Policy Center mark is also a small business owner and consults with companies on IT management strategies and so each of you will have ten minutes we will have rosemary give you a two minute warning and then a 30-second warning after we go through each of your presentations we'll open it up to Q&A from the audience and then we will wrap up so I'm going to hand it over to you Randall Thank You Maria you know the Washington Policy Center is the only statewide think-tank in the country to have a full-time staff person working on transportation issues and I really appreciate the work that Murray has been doing we don't always see eye to eye on everything but I hope that I can learn from her I am an Oregonian she didn't mention that in her bio I don't think but I live in Central Oregon and I was one of the first volunteers to participate in Oregon's mileage-based user fee experiment and so I have a little GPS device in my car that tells somebody everywhere I go and when I go there and I want to talk about that in a few minutes Oregon was also the first state in the country to impose a gas tax and dedicate that gas tax to highways that was in 1919 by 1930 every other state had followed Oregon's example the problem with gas taxes they worked well for a long time but they have several problems first they don't keep up with inflation second they don't keep up with more fuel-efficient cars why does it's a virus definitions update that doesn't have anything to do with my slide show they don't keep up with more fuel-efficient cars they don't charge electric cars at all they don't all the gas taxes go to the states and while the states share the gas taxes to some degree with local governments local governments have to rely heavily on general funds to pay for streets and roads and they often you hear about crumbling infrastructure that's mainly local streets local governments because places like Seattle would rather build a streetcar than keep their potholes filled and finally gas taxes do nothing at all about congestion no there's no congestion at this hotel there's no congestion and on the airplane that I took coming over here because they have user fees and they vary the user fees with a demand and so they make sure that there always the right number of people to fill the rooms or fill the seats but because we don't have user fees that work properly for roads we end up with a lot of congestion so I want to talk about why it's important to go to a better user fee system than gas taxes doesn't have to be mileage-based user fees but I think it could be mileage-based user fees because roads are a unique resource they're unique and to understand why they're unique you have to understand this chart which was developed by the Washington State Department of Transportation based on traffic on interstate 405 in Seattle now I want to simplify this chart for you now this is basically what it looks like and I want to show you what's going on here first of all what it says is at seventy sixty to seventy miles an hour there won't be very many cars on the road or rather when there's not very many cars on the road that traffic will goes 60 to 70 miles an hour when you get up more cars on the road the traffic slows down a little bit until you reach about 2000 vehicles an hour and this is per lane of a freeway so 2,000 vehicles per Lane you might be going 50 miles an hour but you're moving a lot of traffic and then what happens is you get what's called traffic breakdown you try to fit more than 2,000 vehicles on that Lane and everybody slows down and suddenly your throughput Falls dramatically until when you're going about 20 miles an hour you're getting less than 800 vehicles an hour going through you can't move any more than 800 vehicles an hour at 20 miles an hour so even though the demand might still be 2,000 vehicles an hour because the traffic is slow it can't fit that so by charging an appropriate user fee we can not only speed up the roads we can double the amount of traffic on the roads which means instead of saying we're tolling people off the road we're actually tolling people on the because with an appropriate user fee we can get traffic levels up to here 2000 vehicles an hour or maybe 1800 or 1900 going at fifty to sixty miles an hour which is a lot better than 800 vehicles an hour going at 20 miles an hour let's just look at this over the course of a day and this is based on a chart developed by the Oregon Department of Transportation for traffic flows across the I 205 bridge in between Oregon and Washington but early in the morning traffic flows increase they started a thousand vehicles an hour and start approaching 2000 vehicles and the truck flows are going at sixty to seventy miles an hour and then they start reaching that 2000 vehicle capacity and the traffic starts slowing down a little bit but it's not serious but then they reach 2000 vehicles and suddenly the slowdown goes to 20 miles an hour and you can see traffic Falls the capacity of the road Falls so basically during these hours you might have been able to fit 2,000 vehicles on if they were still going 50 miles an hour but because for a few minutes he tried to fit more than 2,000 vehicles on suddenly traffic is plummeted and everybody's stuck at 20 miles an hour for hours after this takes place finally you get to the point where the traffic flow traffic demand goes below whatever the flow is is and then you can start getting free-flowing traffic but then in the afternoon it all happens all over again so if but with we have an appropriate user fee that encourages these few people here and here to shift the time of day that they travel it allows a lot more people to travel here and here so you end up getting a lot more flow you get a lot more mobility and at no cost to taxpayers and the great thing about the mileage based user fee is you can completely replace gas taxes with it I pay no gas taxes or other I get my gas taxes refunded when I pay my mileage-based user fee and under the Oregon system privacy is protected notice it says Azuga on this GPS device Azuga is a company that started out keeping track helping trucking companies keep track of trucks where their trucks were so Azuga gets my data they know where I go they send me email messages all the time saying your battery is low or you've got an engine error or something like that that's kind of helpful but mainly they track my data but they don't give that data to the state they're not allowed to and I have my choice of providers if I found out they were getting my data to the state I could go to a different provider and so they have an incentive not to give my data to the state and in fact the state has to write me and ask me permission to get data from Azuga telling when and where I traveled as opposed to just getting my money so my privacy is protected under this system it's also important to realize that in under or in Oregon all the money is going to the highways it's not going to transit or anything like that now there are transit advocates and Smart Growth advocates who really want to have systems like this so they can steal the money and put it into transit and other things for that we have the initiative petition and I'm going to encourage Oregonians and I encourage Washingtonians to start an initiative drive that says that all mileage-based user fees all tolls all vehicle registration fees and all gas taxes can only go for highways roads and streets in the future that way we'll be protected we'll know that our money is not going to be frivolously wasted on Seattle light rail for more information I've written a paper called an ending congestion by refinancing highways that explain these charts in more detail I don't know that's okay I have a new paper coming out in a few weeks about mileage-based user fees and encouraging Congress to encourage mileage-based user fees Maria mentioned my book gridlock and my favorite book romance of the rails I love trains I just don't love subsidies to trains I have a few copies of these books here and I have a few copies of the paper if you want to take a look at them and see them thank you very much [Applause] my name is Chad Dorn scythe I'm with the best highway safety practices Institute the irony of it is on this particular issue I've been involved with this since I was a puppy when I my first job when I had him came home from Vietnam I worked for my father-in-law's construction company and one of the things we did was remediation to highways from truck damage from the roadway damage so we looked at the roadway joints we looked at everything else that was going on in a roadway to try to mitigate for the heavy vehicles and one of the things about the gas tax that's interesting is it was a simple system that let's say you had a heavy vehicle it uses more fuel than a light vehicle so in a way it proportion the amount of usage to the vehicle so a heavy class 8 truck you know 5 10 years ago got four five six miles to a gallon where a light vehicle may get 30 miles to account so they were paying proportionately greater tax rate in a very simple system that's collected at the pump there's a problem with that is the fact that the damage a truck does to the highway is several magnitudes greater than that but trucks are so important to our infrastructure in our daily lives from the grocery store to our gas everything about our life comes via truck I don't even care if you're at a restaurant there's a truck bringing it to you so the public has under written that cost but with you with a greater portion going to the autumn of our mobile use so I went thinking through this when I was asked to talk to about this issue here the existing system works what we need to do is work out how we're going to address electric vehicles I am a technology person I've been involved in all kinds of new projects since the beginning of time it seems like the new Tesla trucks are quite exciting but you need to put a mileage tax on them because the damage done by the weight of the vehicle is significant I started looking at the amount so it'd be like three four hundred dollars a month minimum just to mitigate for the loss in fuel taxes but it's a simple way when you start talking about putting monitors in your vehicles the first time I came up with this I'm with the National Motor associations were concerned about motorists rights in the late 80s we were working on a security project when the first RFID chips came out and I figured out a way to put an electronic tag on a license plate and we also had an electronic tag on your driver's license and we put sensors in the road to determine if the vehicles currently registered and who's driving and the issues back then was graduated driver's license we wanted to make senior citizens be able to drive around town or teenagers with limited license have a different standard from a regular full-time person I worked on this for about six eight months and I started thinking about the downsides of this and we killed the project you cannot trust government once they have the power to do something it will be used for nefarious purposes almost the day after you give them the permission to use it and I realize one of my other customers is the u.s. Border Patrol about 15 years ago we put together a program to look for vehicles that were next to the border going along and we put cameras in mailboxes in the roadway to do vehicle identification and when those vehicles of interest would come up to a Border Patrol check they would get advanced warning that they were approaching so we knew we had a vehicle coming out of one of his homes where they've loitered or done something else and then we could put extra attention on that vehicle they didn't go through with that for political reasons but the point is the technology to do all these things is there I'm on the California traffic control device committee in California that sets the standards for speed limits and signal timing and whatever and one of the issues was red-light cameras and speed cameras and whatever we were able to defeat those with proper engineering practices but one of the interesting things that the last meeting last week is the toll ways in Orange County down around Mission Viejo use license plate readers where the other sections don't want to use license plate readers and then you start looking at dead batteries you start looking at you have to register your vehicle you the credit card isn't working and on and on and on it's a logistical nightmare on a scale that's unimaginable especially when you're dealing with that coffee many cars and their transportation system I was what you have when you like that chart a minute ago especially like on the tool I've gone to Portland Airport what you have is you have a capacity of the roadway but what no one's addressing is the capacity of a off-ramp to handle the so what happens like at the airport early in the morning all that excess demand starts stacking up on the highway so you lose the capacity of the roadway so the answer isn't charging an extra fee for the people using the highway it's what kind of intersection can we put here to handle the demand for this particular surface street and stop storing the vehicles on the highway so there's a different way of looking at all these things then you talk about the little chips like he's got in his car the insurance companies are starting to use those now saying if you're a good boy you will reduce your insurance premium they make 30 to 40% in fact the primary profit comes from surcharges on citations so when they're telling you it's for their safety some actuary someplace is going to decide if you're driving safe or not some government employee is going to decide if you're driving safe or not and anytime you give them access to your checkbook it will be abused period and you have no control it's it's a somebody you can't argue with it's just really really bad idea then the last thing that has to be brought up in the Pacific Northwest in the Midwest when you deal with electric vehicles you're talking coal-fired or natural gas-fired vehicles and you have to determine how much coal or how much natural gas you have to run an electric car well your facilities here are hydrogen until you come up with a storage system when you take a class a truck like the Tesla and you start driving it I had some people I asked them to start looking at this the other day it's going to take two or three hundred gallons a mile of water to power that electric vehicle so he drives 500 miles in a day what is that 10 20,000 gallons of water how much water do you have and how many vehicles can you support in addition to your existing power grid I mean it's a number whatever that number is it may be 50 gallons maybe 250 gallons I don't know but it needs to be thought about the storage for electrical vehicles is coming a long way and Tesla themselves are doing storage units the probable answer is that is using renewable energy in the exchangeable battery packs that could be charged offline and then put into a vehicle while it's in operation but those are all issues here but the most important part of what I'm trying to say today keep it simple do not give access to other people control over your life [Applause] so just in case you've forgotten my name is Mark Harmsworth I'm a former state representative and I sat on the transportation committee in the Washington State Legislature and it was an honor to serve you looked very bright this morning I want to start with some questions how many of you drive cars that woke you up the net how many of you drive more than five miles to the grocery store to buy some bread all right so the numbers coming down a little bit how many use transit by the way okay so I've got a few in there how many Drive more than 20 miles to the grocery store I see so the rut charge as we've been asked to talk about today which is the road uses charge is Washington states and there are other states as well they were proposing this it's their idea of replacing the gas tax because as we know we're all going to be driving $100,000 Tesla's within the next six months and there won't be any more gas tax available in this state so do T's come up with this with this Rock charge and in Washington State they had several different options and I signed up for one of them and I'm Maria signed up for another one the first option was to put a GPS tracker in your car how many people were in favor of the state knowing where you drive yeah I didn't think I'd see any hands there either the second which is what I signed up for was the ability to take a picture of your dashboard with your smart phone and submit that once a one once a month to Uncle Sam and then if he'd send you a bill and in our pilot case it actually give you some money back off your gas taxes that you're paid of course for the transit riders do you think they're gonna be paying a ruk charge no I doubt that very much right now they're paying gas tax so there's some cost shift there if you want to think about that and then there were some other options on mileage reporting now in general I support pay for use so if you're going to be using the road you should pay for it but transportation is something that's really essential and the reason I asked you to raise your hands the beginning about how far you drive for your loaf of bread is I wanted you guys to see that some of us I live about two miles from a grocery store it's very convenient and so I'm not going to be paying that much you near the gas taxes or rack but there's some folks that live a long way from essentials and they're gonna have to drive a long way to get this and the Rock Church I think unfairly penalizes those who are further away who now don't have a choice if they want to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle they're going to be paying a miles charge either way as part of this program as I mentioned I signed up to do the the smart app and I had some privacy concerns because really what we're talking about here is the cost efficiency of collecting this money the privacy concerns that we have and is it a good replacement it's gonna actually pay for things in our state so I signed up and the d-o-t challenged me as a legislator to break their system now my background 15 years at Microsoft many meters of that as a test manager so do you think I took that seriously it took me 30 minutes I did it with a color printer at home and I scan the system and what I did was and and I'm telling you this story not so that you can run out and give yourself a color printer but because I want you to see how house stupids darillium the word the schemes that they have and that they're directing you towards this GPS tracker which I'm going to talk about here in a second so I took a picture of my dashboard and I printed it out on a color color printer at home and I put that in the drawer and then ten miles later I took another picture of my dashboard I printed it out I put it in the drawer and those I then used a smartphone app to take a picture of my color pronoun and did you know it took it I drove 10 miles that month the next month I thought maybe I can actually roll back my odometer this would be great the state will start paying me some money this would be awesome but they didn't I didn't try that because what happened was is I haven't to mention it to the the gal that was running the program she got a little upset she told the governor and they run around they did a whole bunch of things and finally apologized to me because they thought I'd hacked into the system which I hadn't I just showed them how how stupid this whole thing was how easy it was to break and do you think that there are going to be folks out there they're gonna do this with these systems they're gonna scam it you can't scam gas tax you can't scam user fees on licensing as easy as you can of rut charge now let's talk about this GPS I work in the IT industry I've looked through the legislation that they've been talking about for this the data that they're collecting which is accelerometer data so they know how fast you're accelerating how fast you're slowing down how fast you're going around corners where you go and what you're doing they know everything and that's all recorded and we've already heard the insurance argument that was made earlier which is absolutely true these vendors cannot sell this data to the state but they can sell it to other vendors and you'll end up with brokerage houses that sell this data I work in this industry I can buy data on all of you if you're interested 1099 and I'll give you a profile but that's what's going to happen and that's my biggest fear here there's a huge privacy issue I do not trust the state i sat on the Oversight Committee for the Oh CIOs office and we had a data breach a couple of years ago 1.2 million records was leaked out of wazoo it costs the state approximately six million dollars in the first 30 days in breach notifications and free life lock and it was just because they had improper controls over this data this is what could happen the rock overseer is concerned about that so why don't we consider some other options for the folks that are driving 20 miles to get their bread what if we just took say your average mileage per year so it's 12,000 14,000 miles a year for the average car in Washington State you could average out your gas tax and just charge a flat fee and then protect that under the 18th amendment and eliminate the gas tax eliminate my favorite the four or five tolls that is sarcastic by the way and go with something that's simple to collect if the fee to collect how am i doing on time here we're good the fee to collect the rock charge is upwards of 20 percent about that so 25 cents on the dollar is going just to administer the program if you're not from the west side the four or five tolls at a similar problem when they put that in it was over sixty percent was coming approximately it was coming to pay to run the actual system so this money that collecting isn't really being used to actually reduce congestion which is what we all want to see so we can get to the grocery store and get a loaf of bread and beer if you're into that too but I think that there are better ways of doing this we don't necessarily need the form of which they've described this ruk program unfortunately with the state of Washington I think they're gonna try and force it down our throats so we really need to understand the issue clearly and understand that there are alternatives out there that we can pay for protect it under the 18th amendment and not violate a privacy which is one of the key things there thank you very much [Applause] all right I'm gonna open it up to Q&A if you raise your hand and I'll call on you you sir got up to you know 2,000 cars at 50 and then back down again and you talked about tolling people off the roads which is fairly logical but I don't think I understand how you can you know when you still have X number of people who need to be at you know point B at 8:00 a.m. you know they're still gonna need to be there so are you gonna push them off onto surface streets or you know lower capacity roads or what how do you how do you deal with the demand that's good still be placed on that well the real question is what are the alternative ways of dealing with with that kind of a problem one way is called queuing it's letting people sit in traffic and because we don't want to sit in traffic going at 20 miles an hour on a 70 mile an hour freeway a lot of people already decide to drive in to work early or they have flex time or they work at home or whatever they don't make the trip at rush hour and what what congestion pricing does is it provides an encouragement and by the way and that's a deadweight loss to society the the amount of time you sit in traffic nobody gains from that the if you decide to go in early nobody gains from that really your employer probably loses a little bit because you aren't there the same hours as everyone else and so on and so forth so that's a deadweight loss to society if we use instead of queueing if we use pricing if we say look it's gonna cost you a little more if you go at 8:45 which is when everyone wants to go and it's going to cost you less if you go at 8:30 it's gonna cost you less if you go at 9:00 o'clock and the result is from 8:45 onward we double the throughput on the road we can go from a thousand vehicles an hour to two thousand vehicles an hour or whatever and that way a lot more people can go at the time they want to go than they can if we have queuing and yes you have to pay a fee and whether it's a fee in the form of a toll or a higher mileage based user fee it's not a deadweight loss to society because that money can then be used to make road improvements to reduce congestion elsewhere or in that location so that in the future there will be less congestion so to me it's a win-win situation well you know it's the left who are pushing the poor off the roads because the left has a policy of dealing with transportation by making our roads more congested so that more people will be forced to ride transit and bicycle and walk that is their stated policy congestion is our friend is what they say they want more congestion and who does that hurt it doesn't hurt the upper-middle class worker who has more flexible time it hurts working-class people because they have to be at the construction site they have to be at their job their whatever job there is on time they have the nine inflexible nine-to-five working hours or 8:00 to 5:00 or whatever so their policies are the policies that are hurting the poor this policy is giving people it's more people a chance to be on the road at the time they want to be on the road and people pay for what they use rather than letting somebody else pay for what they use this was what happens with transit yeah I just want to speak about flex time during the 84 Olympics I happen to live in Los Angeles and my dad used to drive 25 to 30,000 miles a year or or better and he would drive 80 on the freeway all the time in the fast lane with no problems and during the 84 84 Olympics they had a flex time if you had 500 employees or more you could have the option of 8 o'clock or 10 o'clock and they also banned the the big rigs for a certain time and it made the LA freeway system a dream to drive in and that was back in the before time when you can when you only had to leave at 7 o'clock to be somewhere at 9:00 not 6 o'clock in the morning like now and I just I just think that if more employers were flexible in the hours that they could achieve their their business it would it would speak volumes to to solving things and also maybe less on ramps on the freeway because if you have less on ramps you have less congestion and people might think twice about on the freeway versus using a surface street and if you land and then one last thing if you ride a bike – from here to Rose ours or here to Grocery Outlet then you're not firing up that car I know it's a choice and not everyone is physically able to do that but there are a lot of solutions out there that people can choose and people can ask their employer hey could you please do this so that we could all succeed and get places there's a lot of options out there but the reality is congestion is a 200 billion dollar a year problem congestion costs the average driver in America a thousand dollars a year now you might not pay a whole thousand dollars and somebody else might pay more than a thousand dollars but it's a huge cost on society and there's no solution for it other than pricing anybody who talks about relieving congestion by building light rail or building bike paths or flextime or anything else who isn't willing to consider road pricing as a solution anybody who is it ok I agree with you bike lanes are actually dangerous yeah I agree with you but anybody who talks about relieving congestion without talking about road pricing is not being serious about the issue we will not relieve congestion we will not relieve congestion unless we have Road pricing it will not happen if we do have Road pricing we will relieve congestion now it can be through tolls or it can be through mileage-based user fees that that will not do it that will not work they are the hope there's nowhere in America or anywhere in the world where that has worked Chad wants to speak go ahead you know on there is I mentioned the problem with these off ramps and exits that are unable to handle the demand and then you have the excess demand stored on the highway well the way you run these peak hours and you've seen a lot in California and other states you have the ramp metering what they're doing is they're keeping the roadway operating at optimum speed moving the maximum number of number of cars and they're storing the excess demand on the surface streets rather than the highway to keep that pipe operating it the most efficient so even though it may seem like it takes longer what's happening is they're keeping the capacity of the highway it often Senator Fortunato has a question in the back first I just want to say I was extremely disappointed that Harmsworth when he was representing of getting used to GPS because I wanted to do a public records request because I wanted to know where he was going how many bars do you think that was so so so aside from that I want to talk a little bit about you know the technology that's coming online and things like that you know many people now my son works from home I said you know years ago I know anybody remember to bone phones then the cell phone was like this big gigantic bone phone so now you got this little thing in your pocket people call if you don't answer the phone and three rings they're going where is this guy right so now in ten years I said we're all gonna be Holograms we're all gonna be sitting at home and I'm probably gonna have a hologram you know it will be on the Senate floor and a hologram will be sitting in there with my pajama bottoms on and my shirt and tie but so you know as technology progresses more and more people are going to be you know staying home so one of the things that we were looking at when they talked about sound transit fifty four billion dollars talks about getting people flex time and things like that I suggested that we pay a hundred and eighty thousand people a half a million dollars just to stay home for twenty years right that would be a better better use of fifty four thousand dollars fifty four billion dollars so but the real question and this is for Harmsworth what is the real problem with transportation funding is it usage or is it inflation and the answer is well are you trying to tee up something here I'm just asking whether using a sales tax from the sale or motor vehicles in providing an inflation linked funding source might be a good idea to fund transportation I would agree that the existing sales town where bantering because Senator Fortunato here brought this up to in session this year but the existing sales tax on new autos in Washington state would be sufficient and is inflation linked to support repairing our roads as long to be dedicated to that and it's an idea that's been floated I hope that we can get traction on that next session next session because nem will have a sustainable revenue source that's eighteenth Amendment protected within our existing revenues that would then fix our roads and I think it's it's a good suggestion politically you've got a heavy lift ahead of you so let's see if you can make it happen and then after this question we'll take the gentleman right there on there on the end yep yeah there's a question for mr. O'Toole so when people are waiting in traffic say I'm waiting 45 minutes to go across a bridge that's traffic effectively that's valuing my time at zero dollars an hour and so you know I'd be willing to pay an extra you know fifty cents maybe to get to my home earlier do you see any demand from politicians that you know there's there's a huge amount of money left on the table that could be going to state budgets instead by with the sort of tolling congestion tolling well we have an interesting situation in the Portland area where both the progressives and the fiscal conservatives and by that I mean the Cascade Policy Institute which is Oregon's version of the Washington Policy Center are supporting congestion tolling of Interstate five in interstate – oh five and the reason why the progressives are supporting it is because they want the money to go into general funds or go into transit and the reason why the Conservatives are supporting is so they want to relieve congestion and they want better Road pricing I want to disappoint the progressives I want to see it tested and then I want I'm hoping that will be successful and people will say look we've actually got congestion relief we can get to where we want to go and any time of the day we're much better off and so we think it's a good thing and then I want to get an initiative petition to say all that money from tolls and any money from mileage-based user fees and so on can only go to roads and you know the politicians if they wanted to steal the money and put it in general funds or whatever they'll have to get a constitutional amendment to amend my constitutional amendment to make that possible so yes I'm sure there are politicians drooling at that but for the most part the politicians I see are saying let's not rock the boat gas taxes don't work very well but the devil you know is better than the one you don't so let's stick with what we've got I'm not willing to do that I'm an economist gas taxes don't solve the problems I want to solve the problems and you know I want to build the political constituency for fixing problems using market tools rather than relying on government telling people when and where that to go why they should go it's hard for me to believe that we've made it this far and we haven't talked about increasing capacity simply put transit used to carry close to ten percent of the trips now it's down to around three percent the number of trips in the state of Washington is somewhat doubled in that same time frame and yet we're spending fifty percent of the dollars on transit so that's simple math that does not work does not compute it's not going to work it's not made to work why is capacity off the table and you are all open to answer that question I don't think it is I want to see more capacity and I think we need to build more general purpose lanes both for Freight and for general mobility we're done talking about and we have a fellow here from California who was here when I'll talk about building ten lanes in each direction but I think we have to add capacity when I look at four or five and i-5 over the last 20 years I've been you make tell from my accent I wasn't born here originally and the tea is better over there by the way just letting you know but the the freeway system I've seen almost no capacity added i-5 almost nothing four or five one lane ridiculous absolutely ridiculous PS RC knows by 2050 we're going to see a large large number of people move into the Puget Sound area and you'll see more folks over here as well but there's no plan right now in any of the dat planning to add any additional capacity and it's foolish they have to add capacity over the next few years capacity is off the table because both wisdom and ODOT have decided that there will be no new capacity those are official policies of the agencies in fact this Washington State Legislature has passed a law saying it's the policy of the state of Washington that per capita driving shall be reduced by 50 so there's no need to increase capacity because you're going to reduce driving by 50% that's that's the law passed in 2008 those are bad laws those are bad policies I want to see increases in capacity however you don't see this hotel building enough rooms to accommodate the demand the one night of the year that has the highest level of demand of the year and then having most of that many of the rooms be empty 364 nights of the year you see them varying the price so they can fill a high percentage of the rooms every night of the year that's a lot more efficient for the hotel and it's a lot more efficient for society as a whole so yes we need some increases in capacity if we have a variable price road system that'll tell us where we really need those increases because that's where we're making a profit and we can put that money into it in those places yeah I know but I bet I bet they're not empty any night of the year okay this will be the last question that we take can I stand thank you gentlemen for coming and I don't want to sound like a whiner or make this an east-west situation but in eastern Washington it's a very different transportation situation we don't have all the congestion by and large that you're talking about and you're talking about really the west side model that model didn't show me what has happened in eastern Washington I graduated from Whitworth in the 80s and we wanted a north-south bypass we still don't have it I mean you're building building building capacity over there and again I don't want to make this a whiner situation I don't but what the model needs to be different for rural areas as you pointed out mr. farnsworth one other thing on this capacity thing I was at a demonstration project to use live highways Christ was twenty years ago but each of the vehicles and it's possible now quite easily it was possible then but even now it's even more possible we're hooked up together in queues six seven eight vehicles traveling down the highway as one and the computers were controlling them that got rid of all the gaps the the vehicles on on the highway on the interstate 15 on this public demonstration we're driving 80 miles an hour in a queue controlled by the computers when a car would needed to get out of the queue to go to an off-ramp the queue would open up vehicle would drop out and then they would close back up and go on so what that got rid of all the spacing and kept in optimize the capacity because the vehicles are moving at a higher rate of speed my point is there are other solutions here just within the computer power connected vehicles that are on the horizon that could be implemented rather easy I Drive a vehicle that has adaptive cruise control it start/stop I put my cruise control on and the traffic stops it stops it goes I can set the distance to the vehicle in front of me on one hand but on the other hand when I was on the Transportation Committee the most efficient transportation system just the operating cost not the capital cost or building it or all the equipment was costing the taxpayer three to four times but the collected in the fare box to keep it running you have transportation systems that are extremely inefficient I've seen transportation systems for every dollar put in the fare box those costs in the city ten or twenty dollars just an operating cost my point is is that we when you start looking at transportation you got looking at what is the real cost and how much is that subsidy is it going where we needed to go and they're serious problems that are have been solved on that's good either I'd like to answer the question you're right the east side is different you don't have as much congestion as on the website but what you still have is maintenance problems local county and city streets are not perfectly maintained they are not getting enough money from the gas taxes to maintain them so they're having a supplement it with property taxes and other taxes and in many cases they aren't doing the maintenance and so then you have to deal with potholes and damage to your vehicles and so on and so forth my lease based user fees can be directed to the owners of the roads I live in a rural area on a typical day I might drive on a federal Road a state road a County Road a city road and a private road and with a mileage-based user fee all of those road owners can get their share and do the maintenance they need with the money they get rather than having to rely on subsidies or rely on handouts from the state out of the state gas taxes I think that's a much better system and a much fairer system why my only answer to that is this month I'll drive the nine states I'm not a resident of Washington how do you come many of your users interest or visitors or other people without the gas tax or some method there to get the money from them where do they pay their fair share Oregon's system is interoperable with Washington system and I drove up to the Roanoke conference a few months ago from Oregon I paid the Washington mileage-based user fee just like I paid the Oregon mileage-based user fee when I was in Oregon if I Drive to California I don't pay user fees I pay gas taxes because it's my I use the GPS system so just making sure the systems are interoperable is all you need to do to solve that problem all right I did promise to share our position on this at the policy Center we believe that a road usage charge is acceptable as a policy in Washington state if privacy and security concerns are adequately addressed administrative costs are significantly lowered the gas tax is completely phased out dollars collected from drivers are constitutionally protected to be spent on highways only and any rate increases are attached to the completion of critical infrastructure projects the public approves off and are then lifted upon completion a road usage chart should not be used to discourage driving or to impose additional burdens on working families who depend on a car to get around we do have pretty serious concerns that the political climate in Washington State will not allow for a Road usage charge to function as a true user fee and there are in fact public agencies like the Puget Sound Regional Council who support diverting more money from drivers as a recommended policy for their you know their vision 2050 plan and then we have sound transit which assumes that a per mile charge will discourage driving so that people will take transit these are in you know in written documents so I I think our concerns are legitimate if these agencies get what they want we believe that a Road usage charge could be manipulated through the legislative process to function as a mileage tax rather than a true user fee and we support true user fees and so I think one of the you know we talked a lot about mechanics I think there is you know we also have to consider our political climate here and the interests that are really pushing to get this money for things other than our state highways and so we're gonna continue to engage in this process and share our concerns and recommendations and bring you the very latest updates on the state's efforts I want to take a moment to thank our panelists thank you guys so much for being here I really appreciate the thoughtful discussion that we had here today so our next policy session on agriculture begins in ten minutes right here in the Marie Antoinette Ballroom or you can head to the Isabella Ballroom for the session on communicating free markets to the media and then for a complete guide to the solution summit agenda be sure to refer to your program and as a reminder our keynote luncheon with Governor Scott Walker will begin at noon in the grand Pennington ballroom thank you

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