The more critical question related to privacy is what happens to the travel information that is stored on the on-board unit. Such a system can and should be designed so that the information transmitted to the administering agency would only relate to the bulk charges due and would not include specific information about trip origins and destinations, routes, or time of travel. In other words, the administrating agency would only receive information that a particular vehicle owes a particular amount each month. It should be noted that such a system would provide considerably more privacy than other information technology systems in our society, such as credit card and cell phone systems, where the relevant company knows not just how much a person owes but also where the individual made purchases and what phone numbers were called (and, in fact, approximately where the person is when making a call). Moreover, information should be transferred from the vehicle to the administrative agency (or gas pump) in secure ways--for example, by encrypting the data transfer.
A sixth concern relates to pricing flexibility, with the industry asserting that it does not have the ability to absorb increased costs. As noted above any system can be structured to be revenue neutral should
Moreover, per-mile pricing would create incentives to combine shipments in ways that minimize trip mileage. For example, the German heavy-vehicle comprehensive road pricing system has led to a 10 percent drop in empty trucks on long-distance trips, a 7 percent increase in containers moved by train, and a 6 percent increase in the purchase of truck tractors that emit less pollution. n5
A final concern expressed is over administrative costs. It is likely that any VMT system would have higher costs of administration than the current truck tax system. However, VMT system costs are not likely to be significantly higher, and more importantly, as discussed above, a VMT system would likely generate significantly greater benefits. As an analogy, the administrative costs of credit card systems are higher than that associated with cash, but most Americans use credit cards and most merchants accept them because of the significant benefits they provide.
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