Symposium Summary documents
PDF, 587K, 26 pages
Session 2: Public and Political Acceptance
Findings from the Third National Symposium on Mileage-Based User Fees, by Nicholas Wood, Ginger Goodin and Richard T. Baker
Prepared for submission to the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, 2012.
PDF, 188K, 11 pages
June 15th Workshop Proceedings:
Summary of Workshop on Integrating PAYD Insurance and Mileage-Based Road User Fees
PDF, 66K, 5 pages
Summary: Session 2
Public and Political Acceptance
Monday, June 13, 2011
LEE MUNNICH, Moderator (Bio)
Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
This session featured a moderated discussion representing federal and state political perspectives and new federal research on mileage-based user fees.
Alex HerrgottCongressional Perspectives
The path toward adoption of vehicle-mileage fees is made difficult due to the process for gaining political acceptance.
- The political environment is hostile and toxic to any increase or change in the taxation structure.
- Degradation in public dialogue on the issue is hampering any progress.
- No real leadership is apparent with solving the transportation finance problem.
- Explaining transportation finance is a tremendous education and communication issue.
- Research studies on vehicle mileage fees are not being reviewed by political leaders.
- The process for getting a transportation reauthorization bill passed is difficult.
- Would the next reauthorization bill be for two or six years?
- A complete transportation reauthorization of the highway trust fund is not likely in the near future.
- An office to study MBUF on the federal level was proposed in a draft version of the bill that was leaked to the press
- The Federal government was considering pilot studies to be done through the Office of the Secretary for Transportation
- The pilot studies should be large in scale and cross numerous jurisdictional boundaries
- Proposal was immediately scuttled after an extremely negative response by the Administration and the Secretary of Transportation
Differences in political equity across state boundaries are apparent under the current fuel tax. For example, Vermont residents have an average fuel efficiency of 24.58 mph and an average monthly gas tax of $78 per month. Wyoming residents have an average efficiency of 13.69 mph and an average gas tax payment of $134 per month, due to a greater share of older and higher powered vehicles.
The three frameworks for analysis for approaching MBUF implementation are:
- Federal: A top-down approach dictating policy and direction
- State: Experimentation can be readily done
- Market: Engage and encourage the private sector to provide additional services for drivers
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JayEtta HeckerEmerging Policy Issues
The Equity with the current gas tax system need to be better explained to the public and political stakeholders.
- The public does not realize they are currently paying a regressive tax.
- Getting the public to accept the facts is difficult because data on the issue is suspect.
- Equity needs to be emphasized if transitioning to a new revenue collection system.
- The case has to be made to the public for why an MBUF system should be adopted.
- The gas tax should not be maligned because it is currently effective, but in the future it will not be as successful in meeting financial demands.
- Public support can be gained through conducting trials.
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Nick FarberState Legislative Perspectives
Other States have been considering mileage-based user fees as a revenue collection system.
- Movement with mileage-based user fees will likely be on the State-level due to the failure to progress with the Federal government.
- So far, only five states have introduced legislation to implement mileage-based user fees.
- In Texas, Rep. Linda Harper-Brown sponsored a bill in 2011to implement an MBUF pilot.
- A blue-ribbon study done in Colorado looked at 39 different studies in 2008.
- Connecticut studied MBUF and found that it was too politically challenging to change the fee structure.
- A study done in Florida found MBUF to be politically difficult and recommended a land-based user fee to be implemented in local communities instead.
- The State of Massachusetts considered raising registration fees for all users and is currently looking to fund a mileage-based user fee study.
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Karen WhiteUSDOT Technology Scan
The Federal Highway Administration is currently conducting a technology scan of mileage-based user fee applications.
- The technology scan will look at how policy objectives will feed into technology.
- The system objectives for implementing MBUF should include revenue generation and demand management.
- Users should be able to understand that costs for supporting a highway system continue to incur after a highway was originally built.
- Any future system cannot be subject to tampering.
- More studies and research need to be conducted to understand the capabilities of technology.
- Large-scale pilots are extremely expensive, as noted with the University of Iowa study that had a per participant cost of $5,000.
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Paul HanleyPowerPoint Presentation: Public Opinion and Policy Research
From the University of Iowa Study, a National Evaluation of a New Approach to Assessing Road User Charges:
- The initial perception of mileage-based user fees within the participant group before the study was conducted was 42% favorable versus 17% negative. The final perception, after 10 months of participation in the pilot, was 70% favorable of mileage-based user fees versus 19% negative.
- As vehicle mileage increased within the participant sample group, the positive perception decreased. No significant difference between rural and urban populations was discovered.
- Over 70% of the participants thought the system was fair, reliable, and accurate.
- Participants with less than a high school education had a more positive viewpoint.
- Users did not want a great deal of information on personal driving behavior; however, they did want the capability to audit the charge.
- Individuals who were the most insensitive to privacy tended to be older and lacked understanding on how the government worked.
- About 60% of the participants in the study believed the government will track their travel.
The public can start to gain trust in mileage-based user fees if they have the chance to try and test a pilot system that is currently in operation.
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