The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(121) [Final]

Road Usage Charge: Applying Lessons Learned in New Zealand to the United States
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $70,000
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Susan Binder
Effective Date: 5/1/2018
Completion Date: 2/28/2019

Road Usage Charge (RUC)—also known as Vehicle-Miles Travelled (VMT) fee or Mileage-Based User Fee—has been a feature of the New Zealand road transport funding regime for forty years. With U.S. state transportation agencies facing significant funding gaps between current revenue sources and amounts needed to provide transportation infrastructure, many agencies are exploring the concept of RUCs. For example, fourteen western states are members of the Western Road Usage Charge Consortium (RUC West) that brings together leaders from state transportation agencies to share and information, experience, and ideas on RUCs as a source of revenue. In December 2015, with the passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), Congress acknowledged the need to secure adequate and sustainable revenue sources to supplement currently used funding mechanisms. A five year, $95M Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) Program provided grants to support states as they conduct demonstrations of user-based alternative revenue mechanisms such as RUCs. 

Considering the interest and experience of both countries with regard to using RUCs, the New Zealand government proposed to host a brief study tour by U.S. state transportation officials to observe and discuss with New Zealand officials that nation’s experience with RUCs and extract from that experience lessons that may be informative to state transportation agencies considering adoption of RUCs in the United States. This study tour, conducted in 2018, was intended to provide an opportunity to share information about the use of RUCs to fund system development and operational performance, issues associated with RUC design and implementation, practical lessons learned, and opportunities associated with evolution of technology and public policy. The objective of this research was to provide professional and logistical support for the study tour and to prepare a report of the tour and the participants’ findings suitable for distribution to AASHTO’s membership. That report was delivered to AASHTO staff and is available for download by clicking here.

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