300 MPG. Could This Be the Coolest Car Ever?

Let me say up front that the Aptera totally rocks. The super fuel-efficient vehicle is so awesomely cool — the hybrid gas-electric vehicle gets up to 300 miles per gallon — that it makes me proud to be an American. (Detroit, watch out, the company that designed the vehicle is based… where else… in Carlsbad, Calif.)

The designers are pricing the all-electric vehicle at $26,900 and the plug-in hybrid at $29,000. That’s more expensive than a Prius, but with gasoline selling at $4 a gallon, you can save some serious coin with this bad boy. I would be amazed if this vehicle doesn’t make big inroads into the marketplace.

I first saw the vehicle profiled last night on NBC News. Then this morning the blogger “Not Ed Risse” posted a comment linking to the Aptera website, along with a triumphal note aimed at the real Ed Risse: “300 miles to the gallon! Autonomobility is here to stay. Deal with it.”

On the philosophical spectrum, I reside somewhere between Not Ed Risse and the real Ed Risse. I have confidence in America’s creative genius. Now that energy prices have risen to a new, higher plateau, we will find ways to both conserve and produce energy in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago. While I do perceive a risk of civilizational collapse due to the unsustainable consumption of energy, I’m pretty confident that our market-based economy will be able to muddle through.

But it’s premature to high-five each other over the end of the automobility crisis. Permit me to touch upon a couple of issues:

  • The Aptera doesn’t touch the problem of traffic congestion. Take ten million SUVs off the road and replace them with Apteras, and you still have ten millions vehicles on the road, jockeying for scarce roadway capacity and requiring parking spaces.
  • Widespread adoption of the Aptera and comparable vehicles will accelerate the collapse of our highway funding system based on the gasoline tax. Let’s estimate the impact on tax revenues… 300 miles to the gallon vs. 15 miles to the gallon. You do the math. If we don’t pay for roads with a gasoline tax, how will we pay for them?
  • Dysfunctional human settlement patterns are not rendered miraculously functional by low fuel costs. The Aptera will cut down the gasoline bill and reduce pollution — two very good things — but it won’t reduce time spent commuting or reduce the cost of providing public services to inefficient patterns of development.

So, let us salute the creators of the Aptera and praise American ingenuity. Let us hope that Aptera goes mainstream, inspires imitators and weens millions of Americans from their big cars. But let’s not forget the many other costs — few of them so easily addressed — associated with automobility.

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  1. First, this thing is nowhere near production. Like the Tesla, it’s hype designed to drum up venture capital. How many Teslas have actually shipped? Oh, right, none.

    I would love it if people drove small, light vehicles like this instead of SUVs. But nobody with a family can. It could only be registered on the street as a motorcycle (3 wheels) skirting every single DOT & EPA safety/emissions regulation. I approve, but the nanny staters here seem to think those regulations are saving the planet.

    Here’s what soccer mom thinks: There’s nowhere for groceries. There are no crumple zones. It’s just not practical to be anything more than a toy for childless eco-posers. Who wants to pay the Virginia personal property tax for a second vehicle?

    “If we don’t pay for roads with a gasoline tax, how will we pay for them?”

    The current system in Virginia only collects about a third of its motorist revenue from gas taxes. So if the 300-MPG pipe dream ever happens due to a phenomenal tech breakthrough then, duh, you adjust the tax rate. If you go 300 miles with just one gallon, it’s not like the price at the pump is much of a concern.

  2. Groveton Avatar

    Good looking car. 300 MPG is attractive. That will make living in Fredricksburg and commuting to Fairfax a whole lot more affordable. Excellent. Of course, as a hybrid gas – electric car it will take some electricity to run. More power lines through PEC country. Also excellent.

    Suburban sprawl – reisitance is futile.

  3. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    I always wondered what happened to Rutan’s neat little airplane, the Quickie 2. If they can get the price down out of the clouds, it might just be viable.


  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I realize that I get a bit spun-up on this subject so I’ll try to tone it down…a bit..

    Teaching at-risk, disadvantaged kids, especially one’s whose parents are either unable or unwilling to provide appropriate parental support….

    .. is VERY difficult (but NOT impossible) work that does require a specialized professional…who has specific knowledge and experience – and we won’t get such a professional by paying entry level wages…..

    our public school system, as currently operated in many localities – actually assigns the most inexperienced .. direct from college entry-level teachers to teach at-risk kids….

    .. and, at the same time, assigns the most capable teachers to teach kids who are not at risk – sometimes as a perk for being a good teacher – to get a “good” class.

    I’m not in favor of having dumbed-down, stripped down curriculums that bore advanced kids to tears….

    that’s wrong also….

    but our public schools are heavily influenced in terms of their programs and resources by well-off parents of kids who are, by definition, not at risk.

    But, as a society, we must recognize that at-risk kids are innocent human beings that deserve a chance at life and an education is for many.. their first and last chance to escape their parents plight …

    If we want to have programs that allow sending kids to non-public schools on taxpayer dollars…

    that “works” for at-risk kids, then those schools should be

    * – certified in terms of the experience and knowledge professionals with demonstrated success at dealing with at-risk kids.

    * – at the School level – certified in their results – that demonstrate that they can and do succeed at teaching at-risk kids as a group.

    If we are going to advocate the use of tax dollars to support non-public schools without these specific provisions for at-risk kids…

    then I question what we are trying to achieve with such programs…

    and whether or not.. they really have anything at all to do with offering true alternatives to at-risk kids.

    Gov Kaine – and folks in his administration are zeroed in on this concept.. that’s why they’re willing to shift resources from general revenues for public schools in general – to early-intervention at-risk programs.

    What I think I hear sometimes – but sometimes couched in careful language is that the problem we have is too big for us to solve… and we really are wasting resources trying to rescue kids that cannot be rescued.

    it might be true.. but I’m one that won’t accept it until we have tried harder… and it’s not a black/white proposition.. it’s about numbers.

    We cannot afford to have 25% of our kids not graduate from school.

    If we are doing something wrong, we need to fix it.. not walk away from it.

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Once again.. the re-login procedure for blogger bites me in the butt…

    sorry about the old post above..

    THIS is what I was trying to say:

    “Autonomobility is here to stay. Deal with it.”

    I agree.

    more than that – world trade is here to stay also.

    people and goods want to move from where they are to where they are needed and they will as long as that is a sustainable process.

    and I’m not ready to say than freight and people movement is not a sustainable process nor that the only sustainable level is foot traffic or beasts of burden or sailing ships.

    We know for instance – at the very least that wind and solar – can be converted to get some basic level of mobility that IS sustainable and we further know that the potential to squeeze more out of it by increased efficiencies and technological breakthroughs is likely and the opposite of impossible.

    So .. gasoline could be $20 a gallon…and we’d still be moving people and goods – albeit in completely transformed ways than the way we do today.

    We have so much fossil fuel than by the time we really do get to the bottom of the barrel literally – we probably will be 50 or more years using cleaner renewable fuels and oil/coal will be thought of like we today think of whale oil.. or animal fat tallow.. or whatever..

    I’m just not into the gloom&doom “she’s gonna blow Captain” approach to planet earth….

    though I’ll allow I might be dumb as a stump in the eyes of those more “enlightened” about these things.

    And it won’t take a 300mpg plug-in to do in the gas tax.

    All it will take is $4 gasoline to convince most skeptics and we’re going to find out pretty soon as the States are getting ready to end their fiscal years at the end of June and will have April/May/June revenue data..of which some states like West Va are already showing net reductions in the gas tax receipts for those months.

    All it will take to finish the process is the wider availability of cars that get 40-50 mpg… and the average US fleet mileage to improve by 25%…

    Even indexing won’t staunch the trend because.. in effect… higher miles per gallon is anti-inflationary….while the construction/material costs trend are not only inflationary but accelerating as oil increases in price.

    Raising the tax will have the effect of accelerating the use of cars with higher and higher mpg – with more and more of the actual cost being put on a smaller and smaller segment of vehicles – primarily those that cannot be made a lot more efficient – like vehicles that carry loads…

    and didn’t they have to outlaw the use of solo hybrids because so many folks were buying them to be able to drive on the HOV lanes?

    doesn’t that tell us something about trends also?

  6. Groveton Avatar


    You gotta get a new browser. Next time you are out driving around on uncongested Fredricksburg streets, stop by the browser store and look at the new models. And do NOT buy your browser at Costco. Costco is evil.

    As for this quote:

    “and didn’t they have to outlaw the use of solo hybrids because so many folks were buying them to be able to drive on the HOV lanes?”.

    A pretty short statement for so much confusion.

    1. What is a solo hybrid?
    2. Was the solo hybrid outlawed or was its use outlawed?
    3. Who outlawed any type of hybrid?
    4. Which company is the leading manufacturer of solo hybrids?

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “March 21st, 2007 @ 10:09 AM Transportation

    In a move that surprised exactly no one, Tim Kaine & the Virginia Legislature have extended the HOV exemption for Hybrids on I-66 and the DTR until the middle of next year. The Hybrid Exemption is a bit oddly composed in Virginia: if you’ve owned your hybrid since before June 1st of 2006, you can use your hybrid without meeting the HOV criteria on 395 and 95, as well as I-66 and the DTR. But, if you bought your hybrid after June 1st of 2006, you can only use the HOV lanes on 66 and the DTR, not on 395 or 95. “


    were you aware of this?

    re: browser… Firefox and Google.. one of them automatically expires the password and that’s fine but somewhere it’s keep in the buffer old posts.. so when the password expires.. it kills my current post and goes and dredges up the old one.

    re: Fredericksburg’s congested streets.

    yup… if you think NoVa has got it bad… our area – the Fredericksburg MPO gets about 30 million dollars a year for new construction and that’s it.

    They were planning on asking for the deal that NoVa got on a TA until the Supreme Court had other ideas but the thing is.. even with a TA.. with the same taxing ability of the NoVa TA.. we’d only get about 30 million more.

    Same deal in Charlottesville and every other smaller tier city/region across Va.

    If Fredericksburg wants significantly more infrastructure..the funding plan for it has yet to surface…

    and Groveton you keep talking about NoVa being “punished” with HOT lane tolls…

    I’d bet that at least 40% of the HOT Lane tolls will come from folks who live outside of NoVa and then NoVa will get that money to spend on NoVa Transportation…

    yeah..20-30 million goes for VRE – probably but that’s chump change compared to what NoVa gets to keep.

    Fredericksburg actually would like a similar deal I suspect.

    In fact.. don’t be surprised if Stafford, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania ask for their “share” of the HOT lane funds for the toll that is collected in their jurisdictions…

  8. Groveton Avatar


    You have contradicted yourself in two sentence fragments:

    I’d bet that at least 40% of the HOT Lane tolls will come from folks who live outside of NoVa and then NoVa will get that money to spend on NoVa Transportation…

    yeah..20-30 million goes for VRE – probably but that’s chump change compared to what NoVa gets to keep.

    In sentence fragment #1, “NoVA will get that money to spend on NoVa transportation”.

    In sentence fragement #2, “that’s chump change compared to what NoVa gets to keep”.

    So, does NoVA keep the money or not? Or, does NoVA keep all the money except those funds you consider “chump change”? Also, if you happen to have $20M of “chump change” lying around – maybe I could talk you into supporting a youth charity in DC that needs some money.

    “In fact.. don’t be surprised if Stafford, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania ask for their “share” of the HOT lane funds for the toll that is collected in their jurisdictions…”.

    So, this plan is so poorly hatched that the disposition of the HOT lane funds is still “up in the air”? I see the land being cleared for this scam so the starting gun has sounded. But the disposition of the funds is still unknown? Does this seem right to you? Or have the “descendants of Pocohontas” taken us into another black hole? When Stafford, Fredricksburg and Spotsylvania ask for their share, who are they going to ask? Transurban? Or the GA? If it’s the GA then you acknowledge what I have been saying – there is no solid plan for the use of these funds.

    I don’t think anybody should be paying HOT lane tolls in NoVA. Not people from Fredricksburg, not people from France.

  9. Groveton Avatar

    Also, I don’t want to reform VDOT – I want to eliminate it.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Genetic researchers are now working on hyperwhales. These beasts will cruise the ocens grazing on plankton, grow ten times as fast as regular whales, and produce four times the oil.

    Nuke the gay whales for Jane Fonda

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    How much will the HOT lane tolls work out to if you calculate thme in cents per gallon?


  12. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    some of the thing said here do sound contradictory at times..

    for instance, Groveton says he wants to get rid of VDOT but at the same time he doesn’t seem so thrilled with private enterprise doing transportation either…

    For the HOT Lane revenues .. my perceptive is that despite the private company – referred to as those Australians that a significant amount of revenues will accrue that can be plowed back into various kinds of transportation and that of the many millions..the lions share would accrue to NoVa and a much smaller amount to VRE.

    further – if you look at the jurisdictions themselves that the HOT lanes will be.. some of them …in the second phase will be on I-95 SOUTH of NoVa and it’s likely that the jurisdictions in that area.. Stafford, Fred and Spotsylvania are going to consider the HOT lane revenues in their area to be their share.

    And in fact.. they are already talking about spending that money for commuter parking lots…

    re: HOT lanes cost in cents per gallon.

    Not sure I understand… tolls, in general are not about gallons but about miles..

    you get charged the same no matter what you drive if you are solo.

    and if HOT lanes have the potential to modify driving behaviors – a not unlikely outcome for some folks might be the buy a super fuel efficient car so as to be able to justify the extra cost of paying for solo tolls.

    Others might keep their SUV’s but start slugging to save both gas money and tolls and still get a more reliable trip to work.

    This is the advantage of pricing.

    Different folks will choose different paths.. based on which paths best suit their particular needs and situations.

    I think there is definitely a certain amount of “theory” involved here that really can only be determined by going through with the PILOT – which is what it is and if it fails utterly.. the worst case is that the lanes come back to public ownership.

    I think we’re going to have a petty good idea of how some things will work since other HOT lanes are already operational and building experience.

    but I .. would.. like to know how we operate without VDOT…and without private industry.. doesn’t seem to leave many other options..

    and it makes my advocacies look downright timid in comparison – no?

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Not sure I understand… tolls, in general are not about gallons but about miles..

    They are interchangeable Larry. for an average 25 mpg car, a toll of 10 cents a mile is exactly equivalent to a gas tax of $2.50 a gallon.

    If we are going to claim one is better than the other, it helps to use the same measure.


  14. Anonymous Avatar

    ” a significant amount of revenues will accrue that can be plowed back into various kinds of transportation and that of the many millions..the lions share would accrue to NoVa and a much smaller amount to VRE.”

    If this was really a user pays approach their fees would only pay their costs. Those “significant revenues” you talk about are a result of significant overcharging, for the benefit recieved. They are in fact, a taking.

    If some other location wants their own new roads, they can go raise their own capital, and pay the carrying costs with their own user fees.

    This is kind of the way APF is supposed to work, right?

    And if VRE needs money, well, they already have a user pays toll system in place. Evidently it isn’t working.


  15. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “If we are going to claim one is better than the other, it helps to use the same measure.”

    Ray.. when one car gets more miles per gallon than another one on the same road driving the same number of miles – one car pays more than the other.

    when you toll -they both pay the same.

    why is that not right?

    suppose on the CBBT – they gave you the choice of paying a flat toll rate or the cost per gasoline usage?

    Well.. the guy with the super efficient car is going to pay a 5 dollar toll while the guy in the SUV is going to pay 15 dollars…whereas with a flat toll they both pay 12 dollars.

  16. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “Those “significant revenues” you talk about are a result of significant overcharging, for the benefit recieved. They are in fact, a taking.”

    If you are charging tolls so as to manage the flow – you will end up taking in more money than if you were just charging a flat toll.

    HOT Lanes, and Express Lanes generate “excess” revenues because pricing is used to keep manage congestion levels.

    So. .you have two choices of what to do with that money.

    Give it to the Australians and make that toll road really, really lucrative…

    or cap their profits and keep the rest of the money for other transportation improvements/projects.

    If you did not charge a high enough toll – the toll would have no affect on congestion levels.

    “user pays” means you pay for what you get but you don’t pay the same.

    If you want the premium service, you pay more..

    if you are willing to “pay” by trading one lower level of service for a higher level – that is another ..different option for paying.

    or you can decide to not pay and you still benefit because the non-toll lanes will have some traffic diverted such that congestion will not be near as bad as it would have been if there had been no additional toll lanes at all.

    the big thing about user pays is that you have some personal discretion as to what level of service you are willing to “pay” for.

    Your view of user pays is different.

    It sometimes appears to me that your concept of user pays is one fixed price for everyone – like at a stadium or airplane – and then everyone runs like hell to get the best seat they can… no?

  17. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “And if VRE needs money, well, they already have a user pays toll system in place. Evidently it isn’t working.”

    go visit the JLARC evaluation of the CBBT.

    Here is what you’ll find.

    That the current toll – $12 is enough to pay for ALL of the HMOF.. and enough to put aside some funds for future tunnels when the traffic levels get to the point where they are needed.

    but they won’t get enough money saved to pay for all of them…

    .. unless they raise tolls higher – and could reduce current revenues in doing so..

    so they raise the tolls.. get less ridership.. and in the longer run.. even less longer-term money….

    this is VRE’s problem.

    They take in enough for M&O and they might even have a little extra for additional infrastructure and assets but not enough.

    it’s the same problem with METRO.

    and you now know that even roads have this problem – if you look at the net income and expenses in toto for a particular road – like the CBBT.

    Gas tax roads have the same problem but because there are no tolls, and no specific revenue/expense data for specific road segments, the problem manifests itself in not having enough funds for new roads – unless we raise taxes.

    It’s the same basic issue with all modes…

  18. “for an average 25 mpg car, a toll of 10 cents a mile is exactly equivalent to a gas tax of $2.50 a gallon.”

    Let’s use the real scenario, RH. Ten cents a mile? It’s going to start at $1 per mile and go up sharply from there. It’ll only be 10c at 3am on Sunday morning. It’ll go up every year by a factor slightly greater than the rate of inflation.

    So if you’re driving the most fuel efficient car available, a 50 MPG Toyota Pius where you never use the accelerator, you could drive 50 miles on a single gallon. The cost for that trip:

    VA Gas Tax: 17.5 cents (25.5c in NOVA)
    Tolls: $50

    Anyone who thinks the tolling scenario could ever possibly cost the same or less is the kind of sucker that would make PT Barnum wealthy. Think your comfy neighborhood streets are safe from the toll monsters? Think again.

    That’s what happens when you let the genie out of the bottle.

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    “Ray.. when one car gets more miles per gallon than another one on the same road driving the same number of miles – one car pays more than the other.

    when you toll -they both pay the same.

    why is that not right?”

    Look at the gas tax equivalent.

    The toll is ten cents a mile. Both cars pay the same – per mile.

    The trip is 25 miles. The toll is $2.50.

    The equivalent gas tax for a car that gets 25 mpg is $2.50 a gallon.

    The equivalent gas tax for a Prius or Jetta diesel getting 50 mpg and making the same trip is $2.50 for a half gallon or $5.00 a gallon.

    In addition to being regressive, Tolls penalize conservation.



    for the

  20. Anonymous Avatar

    But, the real point of this is to expose tolls for for the high tax tht they are. If you don;t think you can sell a ten cent gas tax politically, how do you sell a tax on conservation that is equivalent to $5.00 a gallon?


  21. Anonymous Avatar

    “user pays” means you pay for what you get, but you don’t pay the same.

    Oh, so its the same as the gas tax that way, then.

    For some strange reason (very strange in my opinion) I thought that the whole idea is that the user pays for his costs and his costs only. The argument was made that NOVA drivers would pay more because NOVA roads cost more, for example.

    I don’t recall ever hearing the idea that user pays means that you actually get to pay your costs, plus some other people’s costs for some new road not even built yet, maybe one that is no use to you, the User Who Pays, or heaven forbid VRE.

    But now I hear he is going to pay significant revenues above his actual costs. He is paying for a benefit he doesn’t get, and that is a taking, in my book.

    On the other hand, when you pay a gas tax, there is no promise concerning wher the money is spent, it is for state roads that anyone in the state can use at any time, because they paid their generalized share.

    You hear that giant sucking sound? It comes from the toll booth.


  22. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I don’t think that tolls should be less than the equivalent gas tax because of the problems that we have with the gas tax method of road funding right now.

    I don’t think that the gas tax is a sustainable solution for funds but I also don’t think there is a mechanism in the gas tax to manage rush hour solo driving which ends up being the impetus for raising more and more taxes.

    And as ‘no tax’ Bob said then you have to ‘adjust’ the tax – which is code for raising taxes but he could not say that up front because he’s on record as being opposed to higher taxes.. so he uses the “adjust” word.

    Tolls “work” politically because people end up making their own decisions about how much money to spend or not spend or to take other actions to minimize the amount of toll that they will pay.

    this is unlike the gas tax is not optional…

    To the point of how much toll to charge that is “fair” especially when compared to an equivalent gas tax…

    If you had an ordinary toll road – like the CBBT – and ..

    a. – it started to get far more traffic on it that it could handle at peak hour

    b. – the current toll did not generate enough money to pay for expanding it

    what would you do?

    Could you? charge a higher toll at peak hour that would

    a. – bring in more money

    b. – shift some of that traffic to non-peak hour – thus buying you some time to build up more revenues before you had to expand?

    In a nutshell.. that is what the HOT lane proposals are… except the expanded infrastructure is being built first and the loan paid back from the tolls.

    so you’re paying back the money for the infrastructure AND you’re also collecting more money for additional infrastructure in the future…

    and you’re using a demand management tolling method to cut the top off of peak hour.. stretch as much as you can out of the current infrastructure while you try to catch up.

    You could never do this with the gas tax.

    first..you’d not alter the demand and second..you’d never take in enough money to do anything about the current infrastructure much less future infrastructure…

    I really would not have a problem with the gas tax if I thought it was flexible enough and sustainable enough for the longer term…

    but it is not…

    and it’s not my opinion…either

    it’s the opinion of a lot of people involved in transportation planning both public and private… pro-road and anti-road environmental folks.

    Across the board there is general agreement about tolling vs the gas tax.

    I can name dozens of groups in favor of this approach.

    How many groups can you name that are opposed to this?

  23. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    HOT lane tolls and Express Lane Tolls are not about generating revenue per se.

    They use tolls to shape peak hour road demand.

    and they have to charge a high enough toll to have an effect.

    Express Lanes, by the way, are lanes with variable tolls just like HOT lanes but they are not dynamic and instead set by the hour.

    But neither one of them would shape demand for say a quarter for 10 miles…

    Everyone would pay the quarter and peak hour would continue worse than before and the quarter would not buy squat in terms of additional capacity.

    and that’s the problem witht he gas tax.

    If you were going to have NoVa drivers pay in gas tax – what it would cost to build 3 billion dollars worth of additional capacity or let’s say we all drive plug-ins and the EPA does away with non-attainment such that money is the only limiting factor for building new lanes…

    how high would the gas tax in NoVa have to be to pay for say..each billion dollars in additional infrastructure?

    And if you raised the gas tax in NoVa 50 cents.. would folks then drive to Winchester or Md or Charles County Maryland to buy cheaper gas?

    So.. no matter where you drew the high gas tax boundary.. it would cause people to drive for cheaper gas.. even beyond state borders…

    and the more money you need per billion dollars of infrastructure the higher the gas tax would have to be.

    In order to raise 50 million dollars, you need a penny statewide.

    That same penny in NoVa would raise around 20 million..give or take..

    so to get a billion dollars of revenue in NoVa, you’d need a gas tax of fifty cents…

    but I’ve been egging you guys on..

    would 50 cents a gallon gas tax be YOUR proposal instead of tolls?

    or.. would you do what Bob has suggested.. going through the current NoVa jurisdiction budgets and ferreting out money collected on cars and not spent on roads?

    If you don’t like tolls.. come up with an alternative approach…but it’s got to be reasonable enough so that you’ll actually get some folks to sign on to it…

    just proposing something that has no prayer of being implemented is not doing much more than railing on against tolls with no real alternative…either..

  24. Anonymous Avatar

    “And if VRE needs money, well, they already have a user pays toll system in place. Evidently it isn’t working.”

    go visit the JLARC evaluation of the CBBT.


    CBBT isnt VRE and it isnt congestion tolled. What’s the point?

    VRE as user pays, still isn’t working. But it will still get some of that “significant revenue” that is overpaid in user fees by users of the HOT lanes.

    And all toll modes have the same issue: if you charge enough to make them pay, you reduce revenue, and you still don’t have enough for new aquisitions (APF). Like I said, VRE isn’t working. Neither will HOT.

    And gas tax funding also has the same problem. (Not enough money unless you raise the tax). Except with gas tax we know what we are getting. The right to drive anywhere in the state, based on your proportional payment. No bogus promises of user pays for what he gets are required, and none are broken.

    The problem is they (CBBT, VRE, Raods in general , toll roads) need more money and they can’t get it unless it comes from us.

    More taxes, one way or another, whatever you call them.

    More Wealth transfer (otherwise known as a taking) one way or another. But, it appears to be much worse with tolls, and more dishonest. We can agree the state distribuion of funds could be better, but it would have to go a long long way to be worse than what HOT lanes are shaping up to be.

    Groveton is right, we are going to love to hate this.


    And Bob is right. I was trying to be kind. the real figures would scare people to death. But let’s be fair. The tolls don’t cover all roads so the equivalent gas tax should take that into account.

    Using bob’s figure of a dollar a mile, my figure of ten cents a mile would apply if ten percent of all roads were tolled. If that many roads are tolled, then tolls wll be hard to avoid. If you guess that you would drive on toll roads tenpercent of the time, then you would be paying a true transportation tax equivalent to $2.50 per gallon.

    Except, unlike the gas tax, tolls are regressive and penalize conservation. And larry thinks that ten cents a gallon is politically imposible. But I don’t hear any comments from him as to why tolls are politically possible when they are much higher, expressed in the same terms.

    Not showing the true equivalent, or trying to obfuscate it as Larry is, is fundamentally dishonest, in my opinion. Avocados are pretty much the same price whether you buy them each, or by the pound. Same for roads. If you don’t pay enough, you don’t get enough avocados. Offering a “sale price” for avocadoes by the each which is higher than your usual price per pound would get you thrown in jail.

    But that is exactly what is going on with these dumber than toast tolls.

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    50 cents a gallon, statewide.

    For starters.

    Would not be unreasonable compared to tolls on some and nothing on others.


    Forget about where the money comes from, and spend it where there is the most need.

    Fix one problemn at a time and move on.

    Recognize you aren’t going to fix all the problems, ever.

    But do the best you can.

    That’s the way my farm works. I gather that’s the way most marriages work.


  26. “But let’s be fair. The tolls don’t cover all roads so the equivalent gas tax should take that into account.”

    Wrong, RH. The plan is to toll every road. It’s called road pricing, and is on the table in England right now — even though 1.8 million people signed an official petition saying they were completely opposed to the idea. I linked to a story showing Dallas wants to be the first to start tolling side streets. Once you start feeding greed, there is no end.

    There is no reason to be “fair” to this absurdly wasteful, Rube Goldberg scheme that financially enriches all the groups that come out in support of it.

  27. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: …”The plan is to toll every road. It’s called road pricing, and is on the table in England right now”

    did you say you had some links of where they are planning to do that in the US?

  28. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: 50 cents

    Don’t you and Bob differ on this also?

    Doesn’t Bob say that we don’t need to raise taxes?

  29. Anonymous Avatar

    This company out of Calf. isn’t the only one – check out GM-VOLT, and they are planning to have 100,000 produced in 2010. Let’s hope so, I’d hate to live like EMR wants us to live.

  30. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I’m still a skeptic on the plug-in technology and would not be surprised to see delays in the actual introduction of the VOLT.

    I think plug-ins WILL happen some day, but, wandhy do we think that GM has vaulted ahead of it’s more tech-savvy advanced competitors to trump their pioneering hybrids?

    GM and the other US manufacturers have never shown an interest in fuel efficient cars until they actually get hammered financially.

    They have been more than happy to continue selling gas-guzzling SUVs while their Japanese Counterparts have continued to invest in fuel efficient technologies?

    The Toyota Prius has been converted to a plug-in version by 3rd parties and one would think if it was a simple thing to do AND it worked that it would be easy for Toyota to advance the technology and in the process, further bury their competitors – like GM.

    Since plug-in technology has a holy-grail aura to it… and a viable product would figuratively explode on the world market – i.e. anywhere that power lines could be strung.. and hydro/coal/nukes used instead of oil… etc..etc…

    so.. at this point.. I’m from Missouri with respect to GM and the Volt.

    If they pull it off, I’ll cheer twice. Once for GM and it’s workers and twice for the return of good old American ingenuity and innovation.

    maybe 3 times.

    the third time to cheer for American auto executives starting to look at longer term issues about sustainability of American corporate competitiveness in manufacturing.. and world markets.

    but my expectations are low right now.

    GM is the same company yammering about Hydrogen cars.. and Hydrogen appears to be a total dead-end because it does not occur in a native form (like oil does) that can be extracted and refined and the process for manufacturing hydrogen uses more energy than the extracted hydrogen actually delivers.

    so.. I’ll eat my hat if GM pulls off the Volt…

  31. Anonymous Avatar

    “re: 50 cents

    Don’t you and Bob differ on this also?

    Doesn’t Bob say that we don’t need to raise taxes?”

    Bob makes a strong and opinionated argument that we have plenty of transportation money, if we consider all the sources and spend it on transportation.

    I’m not entirely convinced.

    Some of the funds could be more “user fee oriented” and this might result in less demand, same as tolls only better.

    Probably highway construction and maintenence costs have increased faster tahn inflation in general, and the gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1986. I think the amount of catch-up we need to do justifies higher taxes now to make up for previous sloth.

    Finally, mass transit need huge infusions of money, and it needs to be correctly directed to pay off. We need an HONEST discussion of what the benefits are or could be in order to figure out how to fund it. And the quality needs to be raised immensely. We shouldn’t substitute SRO for efficiency.


  32. Anonymous Avatar

    “The plan is to toll every road.”

    I don’t doubt tha, but my remarks were meant to concern the current situation.

    Tolls will turn out to cost much more than the gas tax by equivalent measures, and this hasn’t been made clear by the proponents.


  33. Anonymous Avatar

    “North Texas officials contemplate tolling neighborhood streets “


  34. Anonymous Avatar

    “The nation also allows the private sector to build hundreds of kilometers of tolled highways. All these are to facilitate more cars, and therefore more oil consumption. Many of these highways are turning into ‘parking lots’ as traffic congestion becomes the norm rather than the exception.”

    “With the toll roads; the cars become so congested; don’t complain, they say traffic jams are signs that Kuala Lumpur has become a world-class city.”

    Congestion is our friend, the world over,it seems.


  35. Anonymous Avatar

    The state Legislature has approved another option for Ohioans looking to spend less on gasoline.

    A massive spending bill that cleared the Ohio House and Senate on Tuesday includes language opening Ohio roads to electric vehicles that resemble small cars with only three wheels.

    Rechargeable three-wheelers such as the Zap Xebra and the Myers Motors NmG — which stands for “No more Gas” — are currently illegal in Ohio. The legislation would allow them to be registered as motorcycles.

  36. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “Tolls will turn out to cost much more than the gas tax by equivalent measures, and this hasn’t been made clear by the proponents.”

    how do you know this?

    do you know right now how much it costs to collect the gas tax and process it?

    Are you not just assuming that it is just like you are assuming that collecting tolls would cost more?

    what evidence do you have to back up what you are saying?

  37. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: the need to raise taxes verses making better use of the existing funding.

    Ray and Groveton have agreed with Bob that the existing funding is being diverted to other purposes…

    but Bob wants to reform the system and Groveton and Ray would rather raise taxes to turn over to be spent is the same wrong ways that it is now.

    In other words, they advocate continuing the current failed approach….

    why would you guys support bascially feeding the same wasteful beast ?

    Ray -how can there be an “honest” DISCUSSION about transit if you want to raise taxes first ???

  38. Anonymous Avatar

    what evidence do you have to back up what you are saying?

    In that “pro tolls” article I previously listed, US DOT went out of its way to describe how it was that we had “a convenient and efficient stream” of revenues in the form of gas taxes, which the Euros didn’t have, so they resorted to tolls, which is why they have a toll industry and we don’t.

    But, the Euros have high fuel taxes, they just go to the general fund. So, as a result of tolls Euro raod users pay for everything twice.

    The closer you read that article, the more you see it looks like a pro toll article, but underneath the arguments for tolls are very weak and actually undermined by the articles own weaknesses.

    If you express the proposed tolls in their equivalent cents per gallon burned, the tolls willbe higher than any gas tax ever proposed.

  39. “Are you not just assuming that it is just like you are assuming that collecting tolls would cost more?”

    Are you really oblivious to the evidence, or are you just pretending?

    Gas tax is an excise tax. It is collected by electronic fund transfer from distributors. A few dozen companies at most. It costs the state precisely nothing to collect and process the money itself. It’s dumped automatically into a government account. There is enforcement to check for cheating which is tied to weights & measures inspections that happen anyway. There is refund processing for when a tanker truck explodes or the gas is otherwise not delivered. That’s it. Those are the only costs.

    Since you didn’t get the obvious last time, maybe if it’s in all caps it will help:


    That’s a fact. 16%. And no existing Virginia toll road is nearly as efficient as E470.

    If gas tax collection were as inefficient as the best toll road, it would cost $148,800,000 to collect it. So unless you can show plausibly where it would cost that much to collect the gas tax, stop pretending both methods are equivalent in cost.

    They are not, and that is fact, not assumption. You have not asserted a single fact on this point, and it’s tiresome to have to rehash the obvious over and over again. Collecting a lot from a few is always going to be cheaper than collecting a little from many.

  40. Tom James Avatar
    Tom James

    Will someone please help me with this one.

    How did the state of VA Gov. Warner, Tim Kaine, etc. find the $17,000,000 to build a driveway (widen route 30 at the Hanover/Caroline line) for a non-profit private company dba State Fair of Virginia, Now 3 years in advance of the Fair ever being built at the site.

    Oh yeah, the contractor English Construction finished ahead of schedule so they also got a bonus and they are doing the construction work of the Fair itself. Which is being financed with 60 million in tax exempt municipal bonds, The State Fair Boys paid Caroline County $100,000 (and favors I’m sure) to use the Caroline IDA to secure, The IDA compared the Fair to a hospital to justify the use of the tax free bonds.

    Please help me understand.

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