Mileage-Based User Fee Public Opinion Study: Summary Report Phase II (Qualitative)

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  11/17/2008

Summary:

In 2008, a series of follow-up focus groups was conducted with drivers in Minnesota in order to further understand their perceptions of a mileage-based user fees, especially in light of a several of major transportation events including an Interstate bridge collapse, soaring gas prices and a motor fuel tax increase. Overall, Minnesotans are much aware of the recent transportation-related events because they received substantial media attention and because skyrocketing gas prices had induced some changes to driving behavior. Unlike drivers in the Phase I focus groups, it appears the recent events have impacted drivers to the degree that they are now able to make the connection between current events and the long-term impacts on transportation funding. While some are able to understand and express this issue independently, others need to have the connection made for them. Regardless, participants understand the connection and agree that a decrease in the number of miles driven or reduced amounts of gas purchased will result in less revenue available from the gas tax. Some see the situation as "zero-sum" in that they believe the impact of driving fewer miles or driving lighter, more efficient vehicles will create less damage to the roadways and, therefore, require less revenue for repair. While few had heard of a mileage-based user fee concept prior to the focus groups, they understand the concept and appear to perceive it as a logical alternative which maintains the "pay for use" aspect of the current gas tax. Participants' understanding of the concept was underscored by the types of questions raised, which attempt to understand the details of how the program might be implemented. Phase I is located at http://www.lrrb.org/pdf/200750.pdf

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