The Washington Road Usage Charge Pilot Project has successfully enrolled 2,000 drivers from across the state to explore a new way to fund state transportation improvements. Over the next year, these drivers will have an opportunity to test how a road usage charge could work in Washington.
“With the start of the 12-month road usage charge pilot project, Washington is taking the next step in figuring out how we can find a long-term replacement for the gas tax,” said Rep. Judy Clibborn, chair of the House Transportation Committee and member of the Washington Road Usage Charge Steering Committee. “I look forward to seeing the results of this project and the information it will provide in shaping future transportation funding.”
Almost 5,000 drivers from across every county in the state expressed interest in taking part in the pilot project.
“I’m thrilled with the continued strong interest the public has had in participating in this pilot project,” said Joe Tortorelli, member of the Washington State Transmission Commission and chair of the Washington Road Usage Charge Steering Committee. “To have nearly 5,000 drivers show interest in just 2,000 available spots in the pilot demonstrates how engaged Washingtonians are.”
The pool of 2,000 enrolled participants closely matches the populations of the different regions of the state, with 60 percent of participants from the central Puget Sound area, 14 percent from south central Washington, 13 percent from eastern Washington, 6 percent from northwest Washington, and 6 percent from southwest Washington. The participant pool also reflects the diverse types of drivers in the state, including demographics such as vehicle type and self-identified race, income, age and gender information.
During enrollment, participants were offered a choice of five different methods to report their miles during the year-long pilot project, with a range of options from no-tech to high-tech. Choices made to date:
- 29 percent opted to use odometer readings, in which drivers submit quarterly or monthly photos of their odometer using a mobile device or in person at select vehicle licensing offices
- 34 percent decided to use a plug-in device with GPS, in which drivers plug a device into their vehicle’s OBD-II port, which automatically reports their mileage and enables GPS to deduct miles driven on private roads or out of state
- 21 percent chose a plug-in device without GPS, where drivers plug a device into their vehicle’s OBD-II port, which automatically reports their mileage
- 15 percent picked the MileMapper app, where drivers use the test version of this GPS-enabled app, created specifically for the pilot project, to report their miles monthly and deduct miles driven on private roads or out of state
- 1 percent selected a mileage permit, where drivers pre-select miles based on how much they expect to drive in three months, and submit their mileage report using a mobile device or in person at select vehicle licensing offices
Most participants have begun recording miles. No real payments will be made during the pilot. Participants are encouraged to provide feedback throughout the project, including filling out quarterly surveys, and calling or emailing the project help desk at any time with additional comments or questions. After the pilot concludes in February 2019, the data will be processed, results analyzed, and recommendations considered. The Washington State Transportation Commission will submit a report to the Washington State Legislature and Governor during the 2020 legislative session. The report will contain the findings of the pilot project, including participant input.
“This is a rare opportunity to have the public actively participate in important transportation research and planning efforts. The results of this pilot project will impact how we pay for transportation in Washington,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and member of the Washington Road Usage Charge Steering Committee. “The feedback WSTC gathers from the 2,000 participating Washington drivers is crucial for decision-makers in Olympia. This project will shape how we as a state decide to fund our future transportation system.”