Texas Transportation Institute Weighs In On Road User Fees

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Experts, Researchers Examine the Issues during Symposium

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It’s clear that we need to evaluate a long-term funding alternative to the fuel tax, and MBUF presents one option. But this is a very controversial topic with numerous political and public acceptance issues.

Declining revenue generated from fuel taxes is contributing to the nation’s road construction and maintenance funding crisis. A two-day Symposium on Mileage-Based User Fees (MBUF) — co-sponsored by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) — will begin Monday, June 13 in Breckenridge, Colorado, to find solutions.

MBUF, also known as vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fees, would raise funds based on how many miles a motorist drives. Revenue generated would replace or supplement the inadequate fuel tax, which comes from each gallon of gas sold at the fuel pump.

“Although the idea of a road-user fee has been discussed and researched at varying degrees for about a decade now, interest is really growing at the state and national level,” says Symposium Co-Chair Ginger Goodin, senior research engineer at TTI. Goodin is a national road-pricing and road-user fee expert. “It’s clear that we need to evaluate a long-term funding alternative to the fuel tax, and MBUF presents one option. But this is a very controversial topic with numerous political and public acceptance issues.”

Federal, state and local government representatives, transportation system users, private-sector representatives and transportation researchers are among the attendees and speakers. The conference will include sessions and panel discussions designed to share information, discuss challenges and identify the future direction of mileage-based user fee research and testing.

Sponsors for the symposium include TTI’s University Transportation Center for Mobility, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, Move Colorado and the Transportation Research Board.

Numerous questions will be addressed by conference attendees. Assuming MBUF is the right solution to the funding problems, then:

  •     What is the next logical step given the amount of research and testing over the past decade?
  •     How can development be advanced given the lack of public trust in government and public ownership in the problem?
  •     What is the most effective way to increase public acceptance?
  •     Are we at the point where only large-scale implementation will answer the crucial questions that remain?

“This is the third national symposium on a road-user fee concept. A lot of work has been done since the first conference two years ago,” Goodin explains. “The conference in Breckenridge will be interactive, with a lot of discussion on technology, methodology, privacy, public outreach, partnerships and lessons learned.”

For more information about the conference, including the preliminary program agenda, visit: http://tti.tamu.edu/conferences/mbuf11/.

Contact Information:
Rick Davenport
Texas Transportation Institute
979-862-3763

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Rick Davenport
Texas Transportation Institute
979-862-3763
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