The federal government should be taking advantage of GPS technology to establish a national "road user charge" (RUC) system for cars and commercial trucks to replace fuel taxes, a tech-based policy group contends.
The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation's (ITIF) is taking its proposal to Capitol Hill on April 25 to try to influence lawmakers as Congress debates how to pay for highway infrastructure.
According to the plan, "A Policy User's Guide to Road User Charges," passing legislation to implement a national RUC system would require a transition period of at least three to five years as automakers develop a standard technology, and as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) funds the development of a national payment system. "During this period, electric-vehicle adoption will grow, further weakening the gas tax as a sustainable funding method for the highway trust fund," the ITIF plan states.
The most recent calls for "user-pay" based infrastructure funding - such as a vehicle mileage tax - started in January after the new Congress settled in and fresh debate began over reauthorization of the FAST Act, the-multi-year surface transportation bill set to expire in September 2020.
While House of Representatives' Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter Defazio (D-OR) has agreed to consider user fees as a long-term option, he supports raising the gas tax as the most efficient way to address the depleting Highway Trust Fund, which is due to run out of money by 2021.
According to the ITIF, while the trucking industry may not be able to pass along all the costs associated with an RUC system to customers in the short run, "truckers should be able to do so in the moderate term and long term if the fees are stable or changed with sufficient advance notice."