with Tyler Kane, Transportation Investment Advocacy Center

Several East Coast states along the I-95 corridor are considering pilot programs to evaluate a new vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) fee, which would replace current motor fuel taxes with a fee collected on every mile a motor vehicle drives, according to The Washington Post. Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New Hampshire have all proposed a combined test program, which would involve 50 volunteers from each state submitting fake invoices to report how much distance the vehicles covered, and the amount of revenue that would have been generated if volunteers were charged a VMT fee instead of paying a state gas tax, a June 25 story said.

There are several options to track VMT, including placing small devices within cars to measure how far a driver travels or using a GPS mechanism to track distances. While some people have objected to possible privacy invasions with a GPS device, the method would ensure that each state received all revenue generated from miles driven within their borders.

A pilot program that follows similar guidelines is planned for California, while another began last year in Oregon.

California’s “Road Charge Pilot Program” will place tracking devices in 5,000 different vehicles, including private and commercial cars. Beginning July 1, the program will give individuals the choice of either a device that automatically tracks the vehicle’s distance traveled, or a manual system that lets drivers log their own miles. A legislative report, set for release in June 2017, will analyze the results of the various methods and make recommendations on permanently adopting the program.

Oregon’s program, “OReGO”, also relies on volunteers to generate analytical data advocating for VMT policy. The program charges participants 1.5 cents per mile driven, and credits participants for their gas tax expenditure at a gas station, thus simulating a scenario where the VMT program replaces the gas tax entirely. The mileage reporting options are run by private sector partners as a measure demonstrating commitment to keeping private information on drivers securely out of the state’s hands.