Dover, Del. — The I-95 Corridor Coalition, with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) as the lead, has launched a three-month pilot study to begin exploring the feasibility of replacing the current fuel tax with a mileage-based user fee (MBUF).
“The fundamental question we are beginning to address is, as fuel tax revenue declines in the future due to improving efficiency and the growing use of alternative fuel vehicles, how will we pay to maintain and build infrastructure?” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan. “This study is just a first step of many and will help us answer questions about mileage-based user fees and whether this is an alternative worth pursuing further.”
Phase 1 of the study is a focused pilot in Delaware beginning May 1, 2018, with over 120 participants which include Department of Transportation officials, legislators, members of the media, and other stakeholders and will conclude at the end of July 2018. While MBUF pilot programs have taken place in other states such as Oregon, California and Colorado, this pilot will be the first to examine the unique challenges presented by multi-state travel and toll interoperability.
Phase 2 of the study will include a multi-state truck pilot in partnership with a private company to assess the synergy between current reporting requirements on commercial vehicles and MBUF and is currently scheduled to begin in 2019.
“The majority of the MBUF studies have happened in western states, and this study brings the East Coast perspective and its unique challenges, such as managing out-of-state mileage and synergies with toll authorities,” said Dr. Patricia Hendren, Executive Director, I-95 Corridor Coalition. “While the I-95 Corridor Coalition is neutral regarding MBUF as the ultimate solution for transportation funding, we want to make sure that the voices of citizens along the I-95 corridor are part of the national discussion.”
The Coalition was awarded $3.1 million for a multi-year, two phase study as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) program. Congress has authorized up to $95 million in federal grants over a five-year period to explore alternative systems of transportation funding. Results from studies across the country will help policy-makers decide on next steps.
The I-95 Corridor Coalition has launched a website, www.i95coalitionmbuf.org/, to inform and answer questions associated with the MBUF study. There are many more questions to answer before any potential transition from a gas tax funded system to an alternative system takes place and will require significant education and outreach.