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A road usage charge is a per-mile charge drivers would pay based on how much they use Washington’s road system rather than pay by the gallons of gas they buy. This approach is similar to how people pay for their utilities, including electricity or water.

To ensure sustainable, long-term funding: As vehicles become more fuel efficient, gas consumption goes down. With a decline in gas consumption comes reduced gas tax revenues needed for our roads, bridges, and ferry system. A road usage charge could provide a more stable source of transportation funding than the gas tax, since drivers would pay by the mile instead of by the gallon.

WA RUC Gas Tax chart

To ensure everyone pays their fair share: Considering the range of MPG of today’s vehicles on the road, the gas tax has become inequitable. For the same miles driven, drivers pay widely different amounts for their roadway use, depending on their vehicle’s MPG. This inequity is expected to grow each year as vehicle MPG continues to increase.

No, the road usage charge is being considered as a replacement to the gas tax, not on top of or in addition to the gas tax.

Yes, for purposes of the road usage charge pilot, we will utilize a 2.4 cents per mile mock charge across all vehicles statewide, which is equivalent to what the average car (20.5 mpg) in our state currently pays under the 49.4 cent per gallon gas tax. No real payments will be made in the pilot.

Assuming the average vehicle per year travels 12,000 miles, this breaks down to 1,000 miles traveled per month. If we apply the road usage charge pilot’s rate of 2.4 cents per mile, this equates to a total of $24 per month, or $288 on an annual basis. Currently, drivers pay an average of $289.17 a year under the gas tax.

WA RUC Cost Impacts chart

WA RUC Fuel and RUC Costs chart

In a potential future road usage charge system, drivers would only pay for the miles they drive in Washington. The WA RUC pilot is helping to determine how drivers best record mileage in and out of Washington state.

One way that drivers could ensure they are not charged for miles driven out of state was by selecting the GPS-enabled plug-in device or smartphone app options for reporting miles. These two options utilize GPS to ensure drivers are only charged for miles they drive in Washington. The State of Washington will not store or record specific location data, only the total number of miles driven in state.

Based on the limited scoping and nature of the pilot, drivers using the “low-tech” or “no-tech” options are not able to distinguish miles driven in or out of state. If a road usage charge system were adopted by the state, policy makers would need to determine how to account for out-of-state mileage.

Yes. Pilot project participants were able to pick how they record their mileage from four options: a mileage permit, odometer readings, an automated mileage meter, or smartphone app. Each of these methods require a different mechanism for recording and reporting data. The mileage permit and odometer reading approaches do not require any technology or GPS to utilize; however, these methods do not distinguish between miles driven inside and outside of the state.

This road usage charge pilot project is a small-scale, short-term study that will help decision makers learn whether and how a concept might work in Washington. The pilot process allows the Washington state Transportation Commission and lawmakers improve upon the design or policies prior to potentially launching a larger-scale project.

Yes, Oregon began a voluntary road usage charge program in 2015 and has approximately 1,000 participants. California has completed a nine-month road usage charging pilot program with approximately 5,000 volunteers.

If the legislature decides to implement a road usage charge in the future, they will have to decide how to address different types of vehicles, personal trucks, small cars, and motorcycles. One of the unique aspects of a road usage charge is that, if implemented, it could allow state policymakers to set different road usage rates depending on different factors, such as vehicle weight or type. This kind of flexibility is not present under today’s gas tax structure.

The transition period between the beginning of a road usage charge system and a phase out of the gas tax would also allow the state time to explore how to incorporate out-of-state drivers. To help test this during the pilot project, we have recruited participants from British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon who live near the Washington border, to explore how cross-border travel works with a Washington road usage charge system. At the conclusion of the pilot, we hope to better understand how this cross-border travel works and provide some recommendations of how to ensure out-of-state drivers would still pay to use roads in Washington state in a potential future road usage charge system.

We do not voluntarily use or share a participant’s personal information for any purpose unrelated to the WA RUC pilot unless necessary to comply with a subpoena, court order or disclosure required under Chapter 42.56 Revised Code of Washington. If we receive a request for disclosure of any data or information that includes a participant’s personal information, the participant would be notified within 10 days, providing the participant an opportunity to object to its release. All personal information collected will be destroyed within 30 days of the end of the WA RUC Pilot Project.

Through implementation of the WA RUC Pilot Project, we may make certain personal information available to the private, third-party companies authorized to provide services in support of this pilot project, DriveSync and emovis. These service providers are responsible for setting up participants’ road usage charge accounts and processing their mileage reports, delivering mileage meters to persons who choose to test those devices, providing customer service and conducting surveys for research and evaluation purposes. These companies are required to adhere to this privacy policy and protect each participant’s personal information. They are prohibited from using a participant’s travel data for any purpose other than the pilot invoice processing or transferring their travel data to anyone else, except with their consent.