Ongoing Research

Ongoing Road Charge Research

The Road Charge Pilot Program successfully concluded in 2017, offering valuable insight into a sustainable and equitable gas tax alternative and identifying areas for additional research.

Road Charge Research Funding

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act established the five year, $95 million Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) Program to provide grants to states or groups of states to:

  • Test the design, acceptance, and implementation of two or more future user-based alternative revenue mechanisms
  • Improve the functionality of the user-based alternative revenue mechanisms
  • Conduct outreach to increase public awareness of the need for alternative funding sources and provide information on possible approaches
  • Provide recommendations about adoption and implementation of user-based alternative revenue mechanisms
  • Minimize administrative costs of any potential user-based alternative revenue mechanisms

California has been awarded STSFA funding both as a state and as a member of RUC West.

What has STSFA Awarded California?

Year 1: 2016

Awarded $750,000 to:

  • Investigate the feasibility of a pay at the pump/charge point demonstration
  • Develop an organizational framework
  • Conduct public opinion research
  • Final Reports:
    • Pay at the Pump/Charge Point Coming Soon
    • Communications Research Coming Soon
    • FAST Act Annual Report 2017 Coming Soon
    • [Additional FAST Act reports coming]

Year 2: 2017

Awarded $1,750,000 to:

  • Demonstrate a pay at the pump/charge point road charge model

Year 3: 2018

Awarded $2,030,000 to:

  • Explore various technologies and services to discover synergies between road charge and innovative transportation trends
  • Usage-based Insurance (UBI)
  • Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)
  • Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Future Years

  • Year 4 (2019)
  • Year 5 (2020)
  • More than $40 million available

What has STSFA Awarded RUC West?

Year 1: 2016

Awarded $1,500,000 to:

  • Define a regional system
  • Begin a regional pilot planning with 11 participating states

Year 2: 2017

Awarded $2,590,000 to:

  • Demonstrate regional pilots in California and Oregon
  • Investigate interoperability

Year 3: 2018

Awarded $950,000 to:

  • Explore a road charge and autonomous vehicles

Future Years

  • Year 4 (2019)
  • Year 5 (2020)
  • More than $40 million available

What is Next for Road Charge in California?

The RCPP successfully tested the feasibility, functionality, and complexity of a road charge in California, but it surfaced some additional research areas.

  • Revenue collection: 
    • Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration are studying a road charge pay-at-the-pump model similar to the simplicity and cost effectiveness of the current gas tax collection process.
  • Technological evolution: 
    • In-vehicle telematics are being explored for standardizing mileage data collection methods across vehicle types, and the creation of a technology collaboration between public and private interests is being considered.
  • Organizational design and implementation:
    • Several entities will be impacted if a road charge transition takes place, requiring thorough design, testing, and ongoing collaboration among multiple partners.