Western States Collaboration on Road User Charges Could Be a Model for the Rest of the United States
With the latest adoption of another short term road bill, the government has been considering other ways to pay for transport projects, as the tax revenue from Petrol is dropping due to greater fuel efficiency and electric vehicles such as plug-ins.
For example, in the past few years Oregon has been actively explorationing the idea through government studies or pilots, and 20 other states have actively explored its road user charge programme (now known as OreGo). The idea is not to use the petrol, but to charge drivers by the amount of milles they drive.
However, Oregon’s initiative requires a limited number of (5000) drivers inside the Oregon borders on a voluntary basis. And while the programme is expected to be compulsory for almost all Oregon licenced drivers in the future, an important problem has so far not been dealt with is how to tax off-state drivers.
Submit a two-year affiliation from the transportation dept. of twelve western states, the Western Road Use Charge Consortium (WRUCC), designed to fix this issue. Their charter notes that a funding mechanism that collects road usage costs of the driver based on “real use of the road” will be created and researched by the Community.
Though members in their states are not forced to accept road user charges, many may ultimately do so. The scheme of kilometres could likely be applied to one third of the country ‘s population and one-third of the land.
Arizona, Oregón, California, Washington, Texas, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, Hawaii, Idaho or Colorado are currently members of the Assembly; seven additional states are eligible for membership.
The consortium will exchange info and expertise over the next year, review the success of the programme of Oregon, and discuss the viability of a pilot programme for multi-jurisdictions. They will also learn from each other and research the effects of a framework for road charging users on privacy. The community will also develop good practises.
In order to join the European Union, the DOT must belong to the Western Association of State Officials on Highways and Transport and adhere to the terms of the Charter of the Consortium.
The Consortium support is given only by membership obligation of $25,000 and they are authorised to use the State Planning and Analysis Fund for this purpose from the Transportation Pooled Fund (a joint arrangement with the Federal Highway and state DOTs). In addition to this funding, the federal government ‘s contribution is limited.
Experts have long understood that “interoperability,” a fancy way to mean that various jurisdictions must be able to exchange details and agree on methodologys and procedures for tracking and reporting miles, the bill drivers and the share of revenues, is necessary for a remote fee system to be enforced.
Experience shows that this modern form of payment will operate at the national and multi-jurisdictional level. Two-year field study at GPS used to monitor the vehicle position of the vehicles and on-board devices to record and transmit kilometric data to the central billing station, using 2,650 volunteers from 12 metropolitan areas across the country.
The technology worked and most participants studied had a positive impression of the experience at the end of the study. They also refused to be paid based on location and milage, which contradicted their conviction that participating drivers value privacy over accuracy.
There is also a school of thinking that drivers who live a long way away from work, school, or company (so-called ‘rural drivers’) tend to pay by the gallon rather than the mile. Thus, even though charges which differ based on zip codes or location, it is politically difficult for these consortium members to implement road charging systems as many of them have significant populations of rural drivers. However, the fact that you are willing to align your efforts and at least take the choice seriously says something about the urgent need to find an alternative to the gas tax that is fairer and more sustainable.
Joshua Schanck, Chairman and CEO of the Eno Transport Center believes it is a huge deal to build the WRUCC. “It is increasingly unlikely that a federal highway user charge is generated or VMT of any sort,” he said. “So it is very amazing to think that this multi-state initiative will happen.”