Near-Term-Implementable Mechanisms for Collecting Road User Charges Based on Vehicle-Miles Traveled

Principal Investigator(s):

Gina Baas, Deputy Director, Center for Transportation Studies


  • Max Donath, Professor, Mechanical Engineering
  • Lee Munnich, Senior Fellow (Retired), Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

Motor fuel excise taxes have been the principal mechanism for raising highway revenue at the federal and state level for most of the past century. Despite several compelling advantages, their utility over the coming decades may be limited by a combination of structural and political factors. This potential decrease in revenue has led some to suggest that fuel taxes should be replaced by a system of user fees based on vehicle miles of travel (VMT). The goals of this NCHRP project were to identify a range of potential options for the near-term implementation of VMT fees, assess their relative strengths and limitations, identify one or more options offering the greatest potential, enumerate the necessary steps to institute VMT fees by 2015, and develop a strategy for phasing in a more sophisticated and flexible system for levying VMT fees in the long-term. The project team produced a report that can be used as a guide for future decision-making and also as useful input to the 2009 transportation authorization process.

CTS is part of a team led by ICF International and RAND Corporation. Max Donath, director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute, and Lee Munnich, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, served as expert advisors on the project, and CTS staff coordinated a one-day workshop in Washington, D.C.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2009078
  • Start date: 02/2009
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Research Implementation
  • Topics: Economics, Event services