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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 future road usage charge system, drivers would only pay for the miles they drive in
Washington. The pilot will help us determine how drivers would best record mileage in and out of Washington state.

One way that drivers can ensure they are not charged for miles driven out of state is by selecting the GPS-enabled “mileage meter” or smarthphone 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.

During the pilot, drivers who use the “low-tech” or “no-tech” options would not be able to distinguish miles driven in or out of state.

Yes. Pilot project participants will get 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 will 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.

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.

We are looking for at least 2,000 drivers throughout Washington to participate in the study beginning in early 2018. We need a diverse set of drivers: from urban, rural and suburban areas of the state; different car types including electric and hybrid cars; different household income levels, etc. We need the public’s help and input to better understand how a road usage charge might affect all types of drivers, what works and doesn’t work for them, etc.

The Washington State Transportation Commission and a 25-member stakeholder committee have been researching, assessing, and analyzing this potential replacement for the gas tax since 2012 in close partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Department of Licensing. To learn more visit the stakeholder committee page.

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.