Seattle’s pay-by-mile gas tax pilot set to begin in a fortnight

Jan. 19, 2018

Drivers will be “mock-charged” by miles traveled, over a per-gallon alternative

The city of Seattle, Wash., is looking to find a more diversified way of generating revenue, while also making the onus on its citizens as reasonable as possible.

Enter a pilot project that is set to begin in approximately two weeks, by which drivers will face a pay-by-mile gas tax, versus a per-gallon gas tax. No real payments will be made during the duration of the pilot, which is based on 2.4 cents per mile, which the state says is equivalent to what the average 20.5 mpg car in Washington currently pays under the 49.4 cents per gallon gas tax.

The pilot will involve up to 2,000 individual drivers. Mileage will be tracked by odometer, a mileage GPS, as well as non-GPS options. The testing of the pay-by-mile alternative is taking place now amidst a fleet of vehicles whose gas mileage is significantly more efficient than in older model vehicles, and leaders are looking means of maintaining, or boosting, revenue.

According to the local transportation commission, gas tax revenues in the state will drop by 45% by the year 2035, putting a strain on funding for roads, bridges and ferries.

The pilot is expected to run for about one year.