NCSL hosted legislators and legislative staff for a discussion of road usage charging (RUC) policies and programs on June 27, 2022, in Salt Lake City. Since the early 2000s, states have led the discussions to explore replacements for the motor fuel tax (MFT). States are heavily reliant on MFT revenue for transportation funds, the only existing source of funding that relates to roadway usage. According to the National Association of State Budget Officers’ 2021 State Expenditure Report, “Motor fuel taxes represented the largest revenue source for transportation funds at 38.7%,” a percentage that has been steadily declining over the past decade.
As vehicles become more fuel-efficient or all-electric and burn no fuel at all, states have begun to study and pilot RUC systems as a replacement for declining MFT revenue. Also known as Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) or Mileage-Based User Fees (MBUF), these systems charge drivers based on their usage of the road, typically a per-mile charge, to preserve the user fee principle of paying for roadways. These efforts have been supported by the federal government via the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) grant program.
Attendees heard from a diverse selection of experts from state departments of transportation, the transportation industry and engaged with experts to better grasp the challenges and opportunities related to a RUC revenue system.
Monday, June 27, 2022
Welcome and Introductions
- Douglas Shinkle, transportation program director, National Conference of State Legislatures
Perfect Storm: Electric Vehicles, Increasing Fuel Efficiency and the Impact on State Transportation Revenues
States are heavily reliant on fuel tax revenue for transportation funds, the only existing source of funding that relates to roadway usage. As vehicles become more fuel-efficient or use no fuel at all, the speaker discussed what are the short, mid and long-term prospects for fuel tax revenue and how might states transition to a RUC?
- Jim Whitty, road pricing specialist, CDM Smith | Presentation
The Federal Role in Road Usage Charging
This session discussed the supportive role the federal government has played to encourage and fund state experimentation with RUC programs, as well as relevant initiatives in the federal infrastructure bill.
- Ben Husch, Natural Resources and Infrastructure committee director, NCSL | Presentation
State Road Usage Charging Programs Overview
For this session, attendees heard from states with operational RUC programs or advanced pilots and the details about legislative support, how their programs are operated, eligible vehicles, public outreach and future plans for their programs.
Moderator: Angela Fogle, transportation specialist, Federal Highway Administration
- Maureen Bock, chief innovation officer, Oregon Department of Transportation | Presentation
- Nathan Lee, technology & innovation director, Utah Department of Transportation | Presentation
- Scott Cummings, assistant commissioner for finance, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles | Presentation
RUC Payment and Reporting Options for Drivers
This session explored the different options states can offer drivers to report and pay for their mileage, as well as multi-state efforts to address RUC interoperability between states.
Moderator: Rep. Steve Elkins, Minnesota legislature
- Travis Dunn, road usage charge discipline leader, CDM Smith | Presentation
- Mark Muriello, director of policy and government affairs, International Bridge, Tunnel & Turnpike Association | Presentation
How to Ensure Privacy in a RUC System
Presenters for this session discussed how states are working to ensure privacy and the data security of drivers. They explored the options that can be offered to drivers and how states address and discuss privacy concerns.
Moderator: Adrian Moore, vice president of policy, Reason Foundation
- Raymond Ward, Utah legislature,
- Lauren Prehoda, road charge program manager, Caltrans
Equity in a RUC Program
Gaining public trust for a RUC program involves explaining how a RUC will impact differing populations. This session discussed the existing and ongoing research that has examined the potential impact of a RUC on rural, urban and low-income populations, and possible strategies to increase equity.
Moderator: Andrew Fremier, deputy executive director, operations, Metropolitan Transportation Commission
- Reema Griffith, executive director, Washington State Transportation Commission | Presentation
- Joel Skelley, director of policy, Kansas Department of Transportation | Presentation
Public Communication: Explaining the Why and How of RUC to the Public
Road usage charges can be difficult to explain to stakeholders and the general public. This session discussed what communication strategies and messages work best regarding transportation revenue shortfalls and the reasoning and potential benefits of a RUC system?.
Moderator: Baruch Feigenbaum, senior managing director of transportation policy, Reason Foundation | Presentation
- Trish Hendren, executive director, the Eastern Transportation Coalition | Presentation
- Tammy Lee, administrative services officer, highways division, Hawaii Department of Transportation | Presentation
Attendees heard from four state lawmakers about their thoughts on RUC, and RUC efforts in their states, including communication with their legislative colleagues and key stakeholders, public outreach and future plans.
Moderator: Douglas Shinkle, transportation program director, NCSL
- Senator Wayne Harper, Utah Legislature
- Senator Chris Lee, Hawaii Legislature
- Senator Rebecca Saldaña, Washington Legislature
- Senator Vickie Sawyer, North Carolina General Assembly
Thank you to Meeting Sponsors
Funding for this Summit is provided by CDM Smith, the Federal Highway Administration, the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) and the Reason Foundation.