Where are we now?


The Commission’s Forward Drive is now complete! Read the final report.

The Washington State Transportation Commission applied for and received funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives program. This funded the Forward Drive research program which began in October 2020.

During the first stage of Forward Drive, the Commission explored various policy and program options and their projected revenues while taking into consideration the adoption of more fuel-efficient vehicles over time, the potential permanent impacts on how and when people drive due to the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts that may arise as vehicle automation progresses.

The second stage of Forward Drive began in November 2022 with the rollout of a pilot to explore RUC implementation issues regarding user experience, cost effectiveness of the program, and program fairness for all drivers. The pilot comprised a simulation and three follow-on experiences described below.

Forward Drive research focused on specific RUC implementation issues and considerations, including:

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Innovation – How can technology, market innovations, and design improve Washingtonians’ experience with RUC?

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Cost-effectiveness – How can we make the cost to the state of collecting a RUC as low as possible?

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Equity – How can we make sure that a RUC program is fair for all Washington drivers?

A publicly accessible simulation of a RUC system was launched in November 2022 as the first part of the pilot. The simulation built on findings from the Forward Drive research and extended into early 2023 with over 1,100 participants.

In the simulation, participants could opt into one of three follow-on experiences including WA RUC FlexPay, WA RUC AutoPilot, and WA RUC MilesExempt.

illustration reading option 1, with a subheader of get exemptions

Participants where invited and reminded to return to the website to make up to four payments over four months using preloaded cash cards.

illustration reading option 2, with a subheader of get exemptions

Participants with compatible technology automatically reported miles driven using the data generated from their vehicles.

illustration reading option 1, with a subheader of get exemptions

Participants claimed exemptions by submitting proof of miles driven off Washington public roads.

Pilot Study FAQs

The most recent WA RUC pilot was a simulation of what a real system might be like and gave drivers the chance to provide feedback and share their thoughts and experience with decision-makers. This pilot focused on various approaches to implementing a RUC system in Washington, including research around innovation, cost-effectiveness, and equity.

Washington’s 2018-19 road usage charge pilot project was a year-long test of a RUC system where 2,000 drivers from across Washington had the chance to experience different approaches to road usage charging and see first-hand how it would impact them financially. The results of this initial research is available in the January 2020 Road Usage Charge Final Report.

WA RUC FlexPay simulated installment payments for RUC as an alternative to annual lump sum transactions. Participants were asked to pay the RUC they owed from the simulation in four monthly installments and answer questions about the ease of use of an installment plan, the effectiveness of reminders, and the value-add that an installment plan adds to their experience. The project reimbursed participants for the cost of the payments.

WA RUC AutoPilot allowed motorists to report road usage directly from their vehicles using on-board telematics. Eligible participants were asked to activate their in-vehicle telematics program, which then allowed the project team to access data describing the number of miles driven in Washington provided by project partner Via. Drivers received a mock monthly statement and were asked to answer questions about the attractiveness of this approach and the accuracy of their statements.

WA RUC MilesExempt offered participants an opportunity to self-declare exemptions for out-of-state and off-road miles and provide documentation to back up these claims. Participants were asked to provide evidence of out-of-state travel such as receipts, trip records, and employment verification, to substantiate claims for out-of-state mileage deductions beyond the standard deduction offered in the RUC simulation.

Want to learn even more about RUC? Visit these pages with detailed information and documentation: