Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies. Road Usage Charge: Applying Lessons Learned in New Zealand to the United States

Road Usage Charge (RUC)—also known as Vehicle-Miles Travelled (VMT) fee or Mileage-Based User Fee—has been a feature of the New Zealand road transport funding regime for forty years. With U.S. state transportation agencies facing significant funding gaps between current revenue sources and amounts needed to provide transportation infrastructure, many agencies are exploring the concept of RUCs. For example, fourteen western states are members of the Western Road Usage Charge Consortium (RUC West) that brings together leaders from state transportation agencies to share and information, experience, and ideas on RUCs as a source of revenue. A number of the RUC West states have either conducted RUC pilots or are in planning stages. Oregon, California and Colorado have conducted pilots; California’s with 5,000 vehicles was the largest to date. Hawaii, Utah, and Washington are planning pilots, and interest is not restricted to the western states. In December 2015, with the passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), Congress acknowledged the need to secure adequate and sustainable revenue sources to supplement currently used funding mechanisms. A five year, $95M Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) Program provides grants to support states as they conduct demonstrations of user-based alternative revenue mechanisms such as RUCs. The first round of STSFA grant funds, in the amount of $14.2M, were awarded by FHWA in August 2016, to eight states to demonstrate user-based alternative revenue mechanisms that utilize a user fee structure like RUCs; five of these were awarded to RUC West states. The second round of STSFA grant funds, in the amount of $15.5M, were awarded by FHWA in October 2017, to seven applicants from six states. The remaining three years of the STSFA program funding will be available in potentially $20M per year increments. Considering the interest and experience of both countries with regard to using RUCs, the New Zealand government has proposed to host a brief study tour by U.S. state transportation officials to visit New Zealand. This study tour would provide an opportunity to share information about the use of RUCs to fund system development and operational performance, issues associated with RUC design and implementation, practical lessons learned, and opportunities associated with evolution of technology and public policy. The study tour is being planned for Fall 2018. The objective of this research is to provide professional and logistical support for a study tour of state transportation agency leaders to observe and discuss with New Zealand officials that nation’s experience with RUCs and extract from that experience lessons that may be informative to state transportation agencies considering adoption of RUCs in the United States. The project entails (a) provision of support for travel and other logistics arrangements for up to eight state agency officials and a contractor subject-matter expert (SME); and (b) time for the SME to engage in study-tour planning, accompany the study-tour participants, and work with these agency officials to draft and revise a report of the tour and the participants’ findings suitable for distribution to AASHTO’s membership.


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  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $70000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-24(121)

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Lemer, Andrew

  • Performing Organizations:

    Cambridge Systematics, Inc

    , CA  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Binder, Susan

  • Start Date: 20180501
  • Expected Completion Date: 20190228
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01668533
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-24(121)
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 7 2018 3:03PM