Bob Foessett’s recent letter defending electric-vehicle owners not paying gasoline taxes completely misses the point. And it highlights a growing problem for which there is no current solution.
Every time an automobile is driven, it damages the road. The damage caused by an individual car cannot be seen, but the cumulative effect of thousands of cars every day for years is undeniable. Money collected through the gas tax, which is more aptly described as a “user fee,” funds roadway construction and the repair of the damaged roadways.
The “problem” with electric cars is that, because they do not run on gasoline, their drivers avoid the gas tax and therefore do not contribute to the fund to pay for the damage done to the roadway by the electric car. Don’t get me wrong. I think electric cars are great. But they aren’t magical, and a roadway knows no difference between a Tesla and a Ford F-150.
The voters of Clark County wisely approved an increase in the gasoline tax in 2016. This was necessary for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons was the emergence of hybrid and electric cars, along with increased fuel efficiency. So now cars go farther on a gallon of gas, damaging more road, and there are fewer vehicles contributing to the fund to repair that damage. Add to that the inflationary effects on roadway construction and you have a perfect storm of underfunded roadway projects.
So while there are ancillary benefits to electric vehicles, when it comes to funding roadway construction, they don’t pay their fair share.