Caltrans and the Western Road Usage Charge Consortium (RUC West) have been awarded $750,000 and $1.5 million, respectively, through the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives grant program within the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. California’s award will enhance the existing Road Charge Pilot Program while the funds for RUC West will support the development of a multi-state road usage charge system regional plan.
“California and RUC West have made great inroads into studying mileage-based user fees as an alternative to the gas tax. These FAST Act grant awards will help further our efforts in researching and developing innovative transportation financing methods not only for California and the Western States, but potentially the nation,” said Malcolm Dougherty, Caltrans Director and RUC West Board of Directors Chairman.
The FAST Act grant award affords Caltrans the opportunity to expand upon the ongoing efforts to engage the public on transportation funding and alternative methods of future revenue generation, while continuing to formulate and strengthen a streamlined system of administration, oversight and compliance for a road charge program. The current work on the California pilot has demonstrated that the pilot could improve its organizational structure, expand education and outreach, and explore alternative mileage reporting and recording options. This expanded research will provide additional information for the final report to better inform the Administration and the Legislature.
The RUC West grant award will help develop a regional plan that addresses critical policy, organizational, technological, and operational challenges for finding an equitable and innovative way to generate and collect revenue to fund transportation infrastructure.
In the FAST Act, Congress recognized the need to demonstrate user-based alternatives for raising revenue using a mileage based user fee model (road charge) to maintain the long-term solvency of the Federal Highway Trust Fund. The enactment of the FAST Act created a five-year, $95 million grant program which is eligible for a state or group of states to test the design, acceptance, and implementation of a future road charge alternative revenue mechanism.
In July 2016, California launched its nine-month pilot, the largest in the nation, enlisting over 5,000 vehicles representing the diverse demographic, geographic and socio-economic aspects of California. At the conclusion of the pilot, a final findings report will be submitted by the California State Transportation Agency to the California Legislature, California Transportation Commission and the Technical Advisory Committee in June 2017.
Formed in 2013, the Western Road Usage Charge Consortium (RUC West) is a voluntary coalition of 14 western state departments of transportation that are committed to collaborative research and development of a new method for funding transportation infrastructure based on drivers’ actual road usage. Member states include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.
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