It may not be a popular idea in Texas, but a controversial alternative to the fuel tax is gaining ground among policy makers and think tanks. Next week in Austin there will be a symposium on mileage based user fees. The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) is co-sponsoring the event with the University of Minnesota the April 15-17
TTI Senior Research Engineer Ginger Goodin is helping to plan the symposium. He says fuel use is down, which means fuel taxes are too . “Given that transportation is expected to be severely underfunded with the current fuel-based user fee system, a mileage-based user fee is being discussed as a viable long-range alternative that may also address issues of congestion, the environment, and fairness. Several research projects looking at this concept have been completed or are underway now.”
From across the United States, local, state and federal government officials, academics, trade associations, advocacy groups, and representatives of the private sector are scheduled to either attend or make presentations. Representatives from regions that have already conducted pilot tests of mileage-based user fees will be on hand to discuss their experiences, and international experts will describe how such fees are administered in other parts of the world.
"As researchers, we are not advocating any specific change to our current fee structure,” Goodin says. “But, if there is serious consideration to move in this direction, we all want to clearly understand the challenges and opportunities.”
Panel discussions will address specific topics such as public acceptance concerns, legislative and policy issues, potential technology applications, and institutional issues.