Future Equity Impacts of Existing Fuel Taxes

The current fuel tax mechanism for funding surface transportation will likely remain in place for years to come, despite some movement toward future implementation of a mileage-based fee. As a fixed per-gallon fee, the federal fuel tax represents a larger share of income the less a payer makes. This research will explore how this disparity may widen as the vehicle fleet becomes increasingly fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicle ownership increases, including electric vehicles.   Improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency are developing at a rapid pace. Auto manufacturers are expanding production of electric vehicle models and states have set ambitious goals for new electric vehicle ownership. Meanwhile, lower income drivers tend to replace their vehicles less frequently and will continue driving less fuel-efficient vehicles. The equity disparity around what proportion of an individual’s income contributes to fuel costs will continue to grow under the current fuel tax structure. This research relates to AASHTO’s strategic goal of advancing equity in transportation, and will benefit state departments of transportation (DOTs) that depend on fuel tax revenue forecasting to allocate resources and make spending decisions.   The objectives of this research are to quantify the long-term user equity impacts of the current fuel tax mechanism in order to aid state DOTs in revenue forecasting; perform a detailed economic analysis of vehicle manufacturing and purchasing trends of new and used vehicles over the next several decades and the resulting equity impacts; identify obstacles for low-income users to access plug-in vehicle infrastructure; explore vehicle use trends for low-income users; and develop a revenue forecasting methodology that incorporates these elements.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $450000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 19-22

  • 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:

    Crichton-Sumners, Camille

  • Start Date: 20220607
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01845587
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 19-22
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 18 2022 10:49AM