Technical Support for Bridging the Communications Gap in Understanding Road User Charges

Principal Investigator(s):

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


  • Matthew Schmit, Former Researcher, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

The Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance (MBUFA) was contracted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in January 2019 to develop recommendations for an innovative outreach and education program designed to effectively bridge the communications gap between state organizations demonstrating user charge pilots and their stakeholders.

This study was conducted by a team led by MBUFA with the State and Local Policy Program (SLPP) of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Cambridge Systematics, and the Reason Foundation. The study was designed to build awareness about road user charge deployments in the US and abroad, and in the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) program and to identify how to create an environment and policies that allow for collaboration and networking among entities interested in supporting the deployment of road user charge strategies. The STSFA program provides grants to demonstrate user-based alternative revenue mechanisms that utilize a user fee structure to maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. The grants are only available to states or groups of states.

The objectives of this study were as follows:

  • Assess user and stakeholder perception of the STSFA pre-deployment and pilot deployment activities (did they understand the technology choice, simplicity of use, etc.).
  • Identify gaps in education/outreach and policy, and identify possible outreach activities to bridge the gap.
  • Assess and convey potential options to expand access to the existing STSFA pilot program.

The SLPP team members were responsible for assessing user and stakeholder perception of road user charge (RUC) programs. SLPP researchers interviewed project managers from 11 deployed projects and compiled and synthesized information collected by the deployed RUC program operators and users as it related to what outreach and education strategies worked and did not work. This included identifying any lessons learned and crosscutting issues across sites.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2019061
  • Start date: 01/2019
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy