Road Charge Pilot Final Report
Compounding the effect of improved fuel efficiency was the stagnant gas tax rate. However, after over two decades without an adjustment for inflation, the passage of Senate Bill 1 restored the purchasing power of the gas tax, helping the state address the immediate backlog of transportation maintenance and repair needs.
While much of the concern regarding an immediate funding crisis has been addressed by Senate Bill 1’s updates to the existing transportation infrastructure funding mechanism, a road charge program is worthy of further research to prepare the state for a future where most of the cars on the road are powered by alternative energy sources.
- Maintaining over 5,000 participating vehicles over a nine-month pilot
- Demonstrating six reporting and recording methods
- Offering various technology options, including no technology and high-technology options: and
- Including, for the first time, heavy commercial vehicles
2. The RCPP was successful in studying the viability of utilizing third-party vendors (account managers), to provide the necessary services and technologies used to record and report miles driven. The pilot was also successful in providing flexibility of services to pilot participants and demonstrating the ability to offer other value-added features, enhancing the user experience.
3. All the mileage reporting options tested worked to some degree:
- The manual options, provided the highest degree of privacy and data security, but will in all likelihood be the most difficult to enforce, and in some cases, such as the odometer reading, could be costly to administer.
- Of the automated methods, the plug-in (OBD II) devices are the most reliable, however, as new technology emerges, this methodology could be obsolete by the time a road charge program is adopted. The more technologically advanced methods of the smartphone application with location services and in-vehicle telematics show great promise, but both need further refinement.
- With in-vehicle telematics becoming standard equipment, this method of recording and reporting a road charge has the potential of being a cost effective option. However there are a number of issues needing resolution:
- Currently there are a limited number of manufacturer’s (as well as makes and models) allowing access to the mileage data collected.
- Vehicle manufacturers require owners to subscribe to telematics services (i.e. OnStar, AccuraLink), and in some instances at a cost to the vehicle owner.
- Login credentials need to be shared with the Account Managers to access the mileage data.
- Continuous transmission of location data due to the high frequency rate required to ping, or query the vehicle to establish connection and determine location, to verify out-of-state or private road mileage for automatic mileage exemptions, the cost of this query methodology employed during the pilot is too exorbitant to be feasible for a statewide system.
- There was a misconception from pilot participants on how transportation is truly funded and why the current funding is diminishing. There is also disconnect between paying a gas tax and revenue being used for transportation funding for repairs and maintenance on our roads.
- Continued education and outreach is key to creating the awareness needed by the general public to feel comfortable with a new change that might happen in the future.
- Experience and education throughout the pilot led to an increase in acceptance among participants, with an increase from 66% to 73% agreeing that a road charge is more fair than a gas tax.
2. Cost to Administer
- Compared to the minimal cost (less than 1%) associated with administering the gas tax, a road charge is much more complex with higher costs. Further research is needed to explore various ways to bring the cost of administration down.
3. Vehicle Technology
- The advancement with in-vehicle technologies is constantly evolving and it will take a collaborative effort between state agencies, car manufacturers, and the Legislature to stay ahead of the curve.
Building on the momentum of the road charge pilot program, Caltrans will utilize this grant award to demonstrate pay-at-the-pump/charging station revenue collection funding methods and continue research on public attitudes towards transportation funding and strategic educational outreach. With in-vehicle telematics advancing, and the internet of things expanding, these evolving technologies could provide a user-friendly and seamless solution for the collection of mileage-based user data at the pump or charging station, which has the potential of providing enhanced privacy and data security.
RUC WEST STATES:
Hawaii Department of Transportation – User fee collection based on manual and automated odometer readings at inspection stations.
Oregon Department of Transportation – Improvements to Oregon’s existing road usage charge program. Establishing the consistency, compatibility and interoperability in road user charging for a regional system in collaboration with members of the Western Road User Charge Consortium.
Washington Department of Transportation – Testing critical elements of interoperable, multi-jurisdictional alternative user-based revenue collection systems. Piloting methods of road usage reporting with Washington drivers.
Delaware Department of Transportation – User fees based with on-board mileage counters in collaboration with members of the I-95 Corridor Coalition.
Minnesota Department of Transportation – Use of Mobility-as-a-Service providers as the revenue collection mechanism.
Missouri Department of Transportation – Implementation of a new registration fee schedule based on estimated miles per gallon.
- Held 12 public meetings throughout the state
- Reached out and asked for feedback and input from over 400 stakeholder groups and every elected official that represents California.
- Conducted public surveys and focus groups to gain a better understanding of the public’s views and opinions of the current condition of California’s roads, perceptions of how transportation is funded, and to gauge public reaction to road charging as a replacement for the gas tax
- Briefed reporters and newspaper editors in every major news media outlet to seek help in broadcasting the work of the TAC to the general public