A Comprehensive Review of Critical Issues on Transitioning to a Vehicle Miles Traveled Fee System
AuthorMaragakis, Dimitra P.
AdvisorTian, Zong Z.
Civil and Environmental Engineering
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Due to increased vehicle fuel efficiency, electric vehicles, inflation, and the fuel tax not being raised in the past 20 years, the Highway Trust Fund has been unable to cover the costs associated with expanding and maintaining the transportation system. Despite improved construction methods, better planning and superior materials, municipalities cannot keep up with wear and tear on roadways, let alone keep up with future expansion. There is simply not enough revenue to support the roadway system. This shortfall has led experts to look for alternative solutions to the current major method of funding the Highway Trust Fund: the fuel tax. The most attractive solution to emerge is the Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) fee.A VMT fee is an answer to many of the current problems facing fuel taxes such as increased fuel efficiency in vehicles, the rise in hybrids and electric vehicles, and responding to inflation. The VMT fee has been recommended by a number of professionals and experts as a complete replacement for the current fuel tax for these reasons. However, there are many obstacles to this attractive alternative including perception, administration, and implementation. The purpose of this study is to provide a thorough literature review of several states' approaches to the VMT fee, address prominent issues and concerns associated with the VMT fee, and provide several transition schemes which would minimize the concerns of the public, motorists, and decision-makers. It was found that allowing the motorist to choose the VMT fee collection system eases privacy concerns and thus has less resistance when passing the fee through legislation. It was found that allowing for a longer transition phase will be most desirable, because the user will have the option of paying the VMT fee or the fuel tax.