In Nevada’s effort to become more electric-vehicle friendly, Kristina Swallow works where the rubber meets the road.
She’s director of the Nevada Department of Transportation, the billion-dollar agency in charge of state highway projects, which includes efforts such as installing the Electric Highway network of EV charging stations around the state.
Swallow told State of Nevada that a challenge of increasing EV ownership is the funding gap caused by fewer people paying their road taxes when they fill up their cars.
“The transportation funding is predominantly gas taxes,” she said, “and so if we’re going to transition to EVs we need to look at how do we continue to provide a network to travel on — so how do we provide a revenue source to maintain the roadway network?”
Swallow said it is up to the Legislature to decide on revenue sources, but more EVs and increasingly efficient traditional engines work against long-term reliance on fuel taxes.
“We also need to make sure that as we look at the revenue that we don’t end up in a case where all of the sudden we’re achieving those goals at the expense of the revenue,” she said.
Other states are considering options such as EV-specific registration fees or taxing motorists for each mile driven.
However, Swallow said that option is costly because of the price tag for administrating it.
Another answer would be for everyone to drive less, she said. Because of the progress the state has had in other areas, transportation is now the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Nevada.
Swallow said adopting EV's alone won't help us get to climate goals. People have to start choosing to take the bus or walk or ride a bike more often.
“We have to reduce how many miles each of us - you and I – drive on a daily basis,” she said.
Kristina Swallow, director, Nevada Department of Transportation
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