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Published on Friday, September 8, 2017

Road mile usage charge study underway

In 2012, the Washington Legislature directed the Transportation Commission, in conjunction with stakeholders (including a city representative), to conduct an assessment of Road Usage Charging and determine if it is feasible. A Road Usage Charge (RUC) is a per mile charge drivers would pay for the use of the roads, as opposed to paying by the gallon of gas. If implemented, it would replace the gas tax statewide. The theory behind this approach is as more fuel efficient and electric vehicles are used, revenues from the gas tax will continue to decline. The RUC has been seen as a potential alternative to the declining gas tax.

In 2016, under the direction of the Legislature, the Transportation Commission sought federal funding for a Road Usage Charge pilot project. In mid-2016, the US Department of Transportation announced the award of $3.8 million in federal funds to Washington State for a 2,000-vehicle statewide, live pilot test of a road usage charge system. That test is about to get underway.

Beginning early in 2018, the commission will start the pilot project in which 2,000 volunteers will pay a mock tax on the number of miles they drive on Washington state roads, rather than on the amount of gas they use.

The pilot will last 12 months. To learn more about the project, and even sign up to become a participant, visit the Road Usage Charge Pilot Program webpage.

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