By Emma Moore, ARTBA intern
American motorists continue driving billions of miles on already stressed roads and highways. The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) latest report shows 285.1 billion total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in October 2019, a 1 percent increase from October 2018. The FHWA also found that 2019 cumulative travel increased at the same pace.
The heavy usage is also straining state transportation budgets. The rise of fuel-efficient vehicles, electric cars, and hybrid automobiles means state gas taxes now generate less revenue for maintenance and construction. Consequently, state lawmakers are considering taxing motorists based on the miles they drive rather than the gasoline they purchase.
ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center’s December 2019 State Funding Initiatives report found that 14 states have pursued a potential VMT tax. Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, and New York have created task forces or pilot programs to assess the possibility of a mileage user fee in their state. Illinois will consider the charge at around 2.1 cents per mile. Other states have proceeded even further. Oregon is expanding its pilot program, and Utah will provide alternative-fuel vehicle owners the option to pay road-usage fees instead of additional registration charges.