John Collura, Ph.D., Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Title: How are State DOTs going to pay for future transportation investments?
A Comparative Review of Alternative Road User Financing Approaches
Abstract: Relying on the current Federal and State motor vehicle fuel tax as the major approach to finance transportation is neither viable nor fiscally appropriate because of the combined effects of inflation and improved vehicle fuel efficiency. As transportation capital and operating costs have continued to increase annually, the purchasing power of fuel tax revenues has declined nationally and is forecast to continue to decline. The seminar will review alternative road user financing approaches currently being considered by state transportation policymakers and administrators in the U.S. Examples of such approaches include: increasing the current fuel tax and indexing the fuel tax to inflation; deploying a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fee system; and implementing innovative toll strategies on existing toll roads and on roads that do not currently have tolls. As State officials deliberate over the transportation finance problem and consider new financing approaches, a number of fiscal and administrative challenges will need to be addressed including: implementation costs associated with technology innovation; ensuring that a stable and sufficient revenue source will result over the short and long term and for vehicles powered with fossil fuels and other energy sources; providing high accountability; generating public acceptance; guarding against evasion and fraud; preserving privacy; and guaranteeing equitable fees/charges among all user groups and political jurisdictions.
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