In an interview with DC Velocity, Norm Mineta, President Bush's Secretary of Transportation and a Democrat from San Jose, provides some fantastic insight into the challenge facing our new DOT chief.
Mineta stresses the increasing inadequacy of the federal gas tax. Set at 18 cents per gallon since 1993, total receipts have decreased with inflation and improved fuel economy. The federal transportation account is deeply in the red. He reveals that Bush personally vetoed his propsal to index the gas tax to inflation when he first came to the USDOT.
The alternative? Mineta recommends a vehicle miles traveled tax, as does the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission. The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission concurs, providing a very thorough analysis of funding options.
This matters for San Francisco, of course, but not as much as you might think. Federal funds account for just one fourth of the money we spend on transportation in the Bay Area.
Thanks to Streetsblog SF for the tip.