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Dori Monson has a mole inside Washington’s pay-per-mile pilot

(AP)

Dori Monson is skeptical of Washington’s pay-per-mile pilot program. Luckily, he has a mole in the system.

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“I wanted to make sure I had a shot at seeing what the program was going to be like before it was pushed out on everyone,” Kyler Lacey told Dori. “Kind of get a feel for it while I had a choice rather than being told to. I wanted to make sure that whatever ended up happening, my voice was in there. Whether they listened to it or not. At least this way I can say that I tried to say something.”

Dori alleges that Washington transportation officials aim to toll every road in the state. Officials claim that the pay-per-mile program is an experiment to find ways to replace the dwindling gas tax. Dori says that the real goal is to get GPS transponders into every car, and then charge drivers different rates depending on the road and time of day.

Pay-per-mile options

The GPS option is one way state officials are monitoring participants’ miles. Kyler, however, is using a smartphone method.

“It’s like a hybrid between the GPS option that would plug into your car’s onboard computer port, or the regular reporting of your mileage,” Kyler said. “How it works is that you snap a picture of your odometer and you submit that. I submitted one when I first signed up at the beginning of March, and then they had me submit another one a couple days ago.”

“The app also has an option to turn on a GPS,” he added. “So I say, ‘OK, I’m going to Oregon this weekend.’ I turn on the app that tracks my GPS location. So when I’m in Oregon it automatically deducts the miles from the total number driven. It’s nice to have that option, but at the same time it’s still on your phone whether you have it on or off; I don’t know how it works in the background.”

Observations

Kyler pays 2.4 cents per mile driven. It’s a mock charge — he doesn’t actually have to pay anything. He will also receive a mock invoice showing his miles and charges.

“With the smartphone app installed, maybe they get the program going and two years from now they turn off that (GPS option) so it’s always on because they will be introducing 4 cents a mile at this time in the morning (for example),” Kyler said.

“It’s creepy to an extent,” he said. “It comes back to the argument that ‘If I’m not doing anything wrong, I don’t have anything to worry about.’ It’s still a little bit weird, the idea that when I turn that app on, it says here I am, where I am at right now, and it has a little bit of a big brother feel to it.”

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