Caltrans conducting road user charge research as gas tax alternative

Research will explore how drivers could be charged for the miles they travel rather than the gasoline they use

November 12, 2020 / 1 minute read
road user charge research

The California DOT (Caltrans) is seeking volunteers for continued research on a road user charge as an alternative to the state gas tax.

The California Road Charge Phased Demonstration will first explore how drivers could be charged for the miles they travel rather than the gasoline they use by testing a user-friendly pay-at-the-pump and electric vehicle charging station system, or through a usage-based insurance approach. Future phases of the Caltrans demonstration will include testing of app-based payment of ride-share miles and capturing data from autonomous vehicles.

Taxes on fuel are the primary source of state funding for road and highway repairs and upgrades. With vehicles growing more fuel efficient and more zero-emission options becoming available, Caltrans is testing various methods to collect per-mileage fees in a system where drivers contribute based on how much they use the road.

“Caltrans is continuing its research to explore how a future road user charge can fund transportation projects throughout the state," Toks Omishakin, Caltrans Director, said in a statement. "We want Californians to join us in testing payment options that will inform our research in designing an equitable and sustainable road charge program.”

The six-month demonstration will start in January 2021 and builds on California’s 2017 Road Charge Pilot, which tested the feasibility of funding road and highway repairs based on how many miles a driver travels instead of how much gas they purchase.

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SOURCE: Caltrans

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