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.
If the legislature decides to move forward with some form of a road usage charge, they will have the opportunity to implement additional polices to balance the impact of RUC, including establishing different per mile rates according to vehicle weight, vehicle engine type, vehicle emissions, or other criteria the legislature establishes. This kind of flexibility is not present under today’s gas tax structure.
Based on the limited scoping and nature of the pilot, drivers using the “low-tech” or “no-tech” options were 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.
To help assess what approaches might work and get a sense of the challenges we may face with out of state drivers in a future with no gas tax, we recruited people from British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon who live near the Washington border, to participate in the RUC pilot project to explore how cross-border travel would work with a Washington road usage charge system.