Potential Benefits of Mileage-Based User Fees to the Freight Industry and Industry Concerns

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  08/23/2012

Summary:

The concept of funding surface transportation infrastructure through fees charged on miles driven has been receiving growing attention from transportation professionals and researchers in recent years. Highway funding in the United States has traditionally been done through user fees, most notably motor vehicle fuel taxes. However, there are growing concerns among some policymakers that fuel taxes no longer serve as an adequate, sustainable, efficient, nor equitable user fee. Recognizing the problems that arise when surface transportation is funded through motor fuel taxes, several entities, both in the United States and abroad, have conducted pilot projects or have implemented mileage-based fees. Several of these have been specifically designed for heavy trucks. There are two major concerns related to truck travel: (1) heavy trucks consume a great deal of roadway capacity due to their size, operating characteristics, and annual miles traveled; and (2) roadway wear and tear caused by the combination of truck mileage and heavy loads is significant and disproportionate to the number of trucks on the road. The concept of mileage-based user fees has seen increasing support from a number of groups in recent years; however, it faces opposition from many in the general public, and in particular from the trucking industry, which largely objects to this approach to funding transportation. This paper is part of a larger effort exploring the benefits to the freight industry of mileage-based user fees, while highlighting industry concerns over its implementation.

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