The FY 2016 STSFA grant was used to develop a pre-deployment DBUF planning study and proof of concept. According to the Federal Highway Administration’s biennial STSFA report, MnDOT’s Phase I activities included:
- Recruiting MaaS providers.
- Modeling pricing strategies and exploring multi-modal pricing options.
- Engaging in stakeholder outreach and developing and executing legislative strategies.
- Gauging public interest and acceptance of a distance-based fee approach.
- Researching DBUF collection methods.
- Developing a design for Phase II’s deployment.
Phase I’s primary goal was to design an affordable DBUF program. MaaS providers were chosen because the vehicles already have onboard technologies. Over two weeks, 56 vehicles traveled 23,000 miles. A concept of operations was completed during Phase I and a limited proof-of-concept was studied to put in place a data sharing mechanism.
The results from Phase I validated MnDOT’s ability to download and store mileage data in a secure data repository across MaaS providers, automated vehicles and MnDOT and MnDOR. By testing a MaaS model, MnDOT anticipates better data security and system reliability than with personally owned vehicles not involved in commercial transportation services because MaaS relies on a private third-party repository and a mileage tracking technology already embedded in the vehicles.
Phase I activities have been completed, with MnDOT stating, “The DBUF model is viable, cost-effective and scalable for a larger implementation.” A DBUF equating to 2.7 cents per mile was calculated based on the results of Phase I and will be used during Phase II’s demonstration. Phase II will address the following activities:
- A 12-month demonstration, which is slated to wrap-up on March 31, 2021.
- Two roundtables with transportation leaders and policymakers on the national landscape for transportation financing. Preliminary results from the DBUF demonstration will be discussed.
- Test connected and automated vehicles (C/AV).
- Develop the business case and revenue model for potential DBUF deployment.
- Develop a rate-setting framework to consider how charges should be levied fairly.
MnDOT notes that certain MaaS companies, such as ride-hailing providers Lyft and Uber, could not participate in Phase II because their telematics platform was on personal devices not actually embedded in the vehicle itself. Thus, for Phase II’s demonstration, MnDOT determined that only HOURCAR and Zipcar met their criteria. These car-sharing services typically have embedded telematics in-vehicle and more accurately reflect the equipment that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are now installing in the majority of manufactured vehicles. Thus, they represent a model for wider and more efficient deployment of DBUFs. MnDOT is also optimistic they can potentially include OEMs in future demonstrations.
MnDOR will receive electronic reports and invoices detailing the net DBUF less state and federal fuel taxes. MnDOR will audit provider data to ensure it is valid and accounts will be assessed and reconciled as needed. No real monies will be collected, and any charges will be simulated.
MnDOT has also established a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to advise the DBUF project team, provide guidance on policy and technical matters and participate in discussions with the public and policymakers. The TAC will consider issues such as social and geographic equity, rate-setting options (including variable rates based on time of day or location), stakeholder outreach and data privacy concerns.
Seven demonstration goals were outlined for Phase II, including equity, public acceptance, privacy, ease of payment and collection, transparency, evasion and scalability. The demonstration will also examine the nexus between C/AVs, electric vehicles and MaaS ownership models to “promote a more sustainable transportation funding mechanism.” To help meet project goals, Phase II activities will include educating the public and policymakers about declining transportation revenues, establishing appropriate pricing structures, data and financial systems security and minimizing collection and enforcement costs.