Implementing Distance-Based User Fees as a Replacement for the Fuel Tax - FY10 TechPlan

Principal Investigator(s):

Lee Munnich, Senior Fellow (Retired), Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Ferrol Robinson, Former Research Fellow, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Zhirong Zhao, Former U of M Faculty, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

This project developed ideas for shifting from a financing system for surface transportation based on the fuel tax to one that is based on vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) or distance-based user fees. The study built upon research conducted by the nonprofit global policy think tank RAND with the University of Minnesota for a National Cooperative Highway Research Program study, as well as University of Minnesota policy development work for Congressman Oberstar, to identify the best ways of moving toward a VMT fee system in the U.S. The study examined the current fuel-tax funding system versus a distance-based user fee system using a set of principles that could lay the groundwork for an extensive public outreach effort.


Project details:

  • Project number: 2010069
  • Start date: 10/2009
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Economics, Traffic operations