The Pennsylvania and Delaware Departments of Transportation are working with the I-95 Coalition to study possible mileage-based taxation for trucks.
The truck study – slated to begin next year — is an extension of a test already underway in both states looking at the feasibility of taxing automobiles on a mileage basis. California and Oregon are pursuing similar studies. In Oregon a group of volunteer drivers are allowed to pay 1.5 cents per mile in place of the fuel tax.
The I-95 Corridor Coalition is an alliance of transportation agencies, toll authorities, public safety and related organizations, stretching from Maine to Florida, with affiliate members in Canada.
Declining fuel prices and pressures on state budgets have taken a big bite out of the traditional user fees normally imposed in the form of fuel taxes. Add in the increasing fuel efficiency of engines and the rising popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles, and it’s easy to see why states are casting about for viable funding alternatives.
Some have turned to public private partnerships that have created toll roads and separate “hot lanes” – but these programs offer realistic financial alternatives only for heavily travelled routes.
The coalition said it hopes to initially recruit 50 trucks to take part in the study next year, expanding that number to several hundred trucks later.
The process sounds relatively painless – data gathered primarily involves information truckers currently must supply to regulators, including International Registration Plan, International Fuel Tax Agreement and hours-of-service data.
The funding for the $1.2 million program comes from the Federal Highway Administration. It includes allocations for lobbying and public relations efforts to make the case that fuel taxes will not be adequate to meet future highway needs.