Transitioning Fuel Tax Assessments to a Road Usage Charge

Transportation agencies have an urgent interest in determining a viable alternative to the current transportation revenue system that is primarily dependent on fuel taxes. Electric and hybrid vehicle registrations are growing rapidly and continue to erode the funding base. Augmenting or replacing the fuel tax system with a road usage charge (RUC) system requires a transition period, especially if vehicle manufacturers need to be part of the solution. It is critical that states work together quickly to research and develop a plan. Several states have published reports on their road usage charge (RUC) pilots such as California, Colorado, Washington and the I-95 Corridor Coalition, which is comprised of 16 eastern states plus numerous cities and other agencies. Another consortium of 16 western states, RUC West, has published interim reports on its interoperability pilot and final reports on over a dozen RUC related research projects. However, this literature on RUC is not based on field testing nor is it comprehensive enough to provide clear direction for transitioning a state or the nation to a RUC. Oregon is the only state currently charging a small percent of registered vehicles a road usage charge. Beginning in 2020, Utah will become the second state to do so. The objective of this research is to understand the challenges, opportunities and practical methods for possibly transitioning from fuel-based taxation to an RUC system at state and federal levels. The final deliverable will provide estimates of transportation revenue generation, suggestions for collecting and distributing revenues in different RUC scenarios, and recommendations for transitioning over time to a RUC based revenue system. The research should consider: (1) Efficient solutions for vehicle mileage data collection, privacy protection, and operating processes; (2) Recommendations for mileage collection and payment mechanisms such as embedded telematics or connected vehicle communication; (3) How different vehicles should be charged RUC such as electric vehicles, high efficiency vehicles, and heavy trucks; (4) State-to-state interoperability concepts that could be used to distribute revenues among states for interstate travel; (5) Processes to significantly reduce RUC administrative costs e.g., blockchain or other crypto-technologies to make data collection and financial transactions more efficient and system enforcement for increased compliance to reduce revenue leakage; (6) Best practices for multi-state standards development and certification processes; (7) Uses of RUC to provide opportunities for funding city and county transportation needs; and (8) Political and public acceptance factors for transitioning to RUC.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $600000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 19-18

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

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

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Schwager, Dianne

  • Start Date: 20200519
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01739571
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 19-18
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 18 2020 3:06PM