Some 115 federal, state and local government representatives, transportation system users, private-sector representatives and transportation researchers attended the Symposium on Mileage-Based User Fees (MBUF) in Colorado, June 13-14. That represents a 60 percent increase over last year’s attendance.
MBUFs, also known as vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fees, would raise funds based on how many miles a motorist drives. Revenue generated would replace or supplement the inadequate fuel tax, which comes from each gallon of gas sold at the fuel pump.
“Although the idea of a road-user fee to replace or supplement the fuel tax has been discussed and researched at varying degrees for about a decade now, interest is really growing at the state and national levels,” says symposium co-chair Ginger Goodin, of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI). Goodin is currently serving as principal investigator for a USDOT study on road-user fee collection technologies and is TTI’s resident expert on the topic.
The four state DOTs — Oregon, Minnesota, Texas and Nevada — actively involved in MBUF research and testing were all represented at the conference. Alex Hergott, from Senator James Inhofe’s office, discussed federal policy issues related to MBUFs via Skype. Private entities, like the American Trucking Association, AAA and GMAC Insurance also presented their views.
The three most popular questions on attendees’ minds formed the core of the event’s “conversation circle”:
- What is the most likely implementation pathway (national framework, state led, voluntary opt-in, etc.)?
- How should research, development and implementation activities at the state level be coordinated?
- What is the most effective way to increase public acceptance, especially in the face of the lack of public trust in government and lack of public ownership in the problem?
“The conference in Breckenridge was interactive, with a lot of discussion on technology, methodology, privacy, public outreach, partnerships and lessons learned,” says Goodin.
TTI’s University Transportation Center for Mobility co-sponsored the event along with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, Move Colorado and the Transportation Research Board.
For more information about the conference, including the program agenda, visit: http://tti.tamu.edu/conferences/mbuf11/.