WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE GAS TAX?
The current gas tax funds a large portion of the transportation budget that pays for maintenance on our highways, ferries, and other infrastructure. As vehicles become more fuel-efficient, gas consumption and gas tax revenue decrease. A road usage charge system could provide a more stable source of long-term transportation funding because this funding source does not rely on fuel consumption.
Under the gas tax, Washington drivers do not pay equally to use our roads. Drivers with more fuel-efficient or electric vehicles pay less in gas taxes because they fill up less often or not at all. A road usage charge system would create a more balanced system for all drivers in our state because everyone would pay the same per mile, regardless of their vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
TEST DRIVING THE ROAD AHEAD!
The test-driving portion of the pilot wrapped up in January 2019! This one-year pilot project was designed to see if a road usage charge makes sense for Washington as a potential replacement to the current gas tax at the pump. Participants tested a mock pay-per-mile system to see how the system personally affected them. About halfway through the pilot, a handful of diverse participants hailing from all around the state opted to share their experiences on camera via in-person interviews (hear their perspectives in this Participant Experience video)
Nearly 5,000 drivers across Washington volunteered to be one of 2,000 drivers participating in the year-long WA RUC Pilot Project.
Click to enlarge
Participants selected one of four mileage reporting options to record and report their mileage for roadway use.
From No-Tech To High-Tech
HOW PARTICIPANTS REPORTED THEIR MILEAGE
- Pre-select a block of miles (1,000, 5,000, 10,000)
- Report odometer either electronically or in person every three months
- Obtain additional miles as needed to keep mileage permit valid
- Post-pay for miles reported quaterly
- Report miles either electronically or in person
(37% with GPS, 19% without GPS)
- Automated mileage meter with GPS and non-GPS options
- Plugs into OBD-II ports in vehicles 1996 or newer
- GPS-enabled devices automatically deduct out-of-state miles
MILEMAPPER TM SMARTPHONE APP
- Records miles using a smartphone
- Works with all vehicles
- Available only on iPhone iOS
The Pilot Project gave participants the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience throughout, so we can better understand the implications and impacts of a road usage charge system.
What we’ve heard from drivers
Over 15 million miles reported and mock-charged at 2.4 cents per-mile
3 surveys, 6 focus groups, and the project help desk actively gathered feedback
Nearly 1,900 emails and phone calls received from test drivers (67%) and members of the public (33%)
Top concerns and questions include:
- Privacy and data collection
- Compliance and administration costs
- Fairness and equity
- Travel between states
- Operational viability
WASHINGTON STATE IS NOT ALONE
Washington received a federal grant to fund the pilot project. Six other states received similar grants: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon, Minnesota, and Missouri.
RUC West is an association of 17 western states that are collaborating to explore funding solutions for our transportation system. Oregon currently has a voluntary road usage charge program called OreGo, while Washington, Hawaii, California and Colorado are testing RUC pilot programs. Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Alaska, Nebraska and Texas are currently researching road usage charging, and Utah has passed legislation enacting a RUC program in 2020.