• Apr 22nd 2011 at 2:56PM
  • 252
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN-DOT) is looking to recruit 500 residents of Wright and Hennepin counties to test technology that could eventually be used to collect a mileage-based user fee (MBUF) in lieu of the state's gasoline tax. Cory Johnson, MN-DOT project manager, claims that:
This research will provide important feedback from motorists about the effectiveness of using technology in a car or truck to gather mileage information. We are researching alternative financing methods today that could be used 10 or 20 years from now when the number of fuel efficient and hybrid cars increase and no longer produce enough revenue from a gas tax to build and repair roads.
Minnesota's roadway revenues are derived from three sources: gas tax, vehicle registration fees and motor vehicle sales tax, and all of these support construction and maintenance of the state's roads. Somewhere down the state's metaphorical road, if a significant number of plug-in hybrids arrive, then the state's gas tax revenues could drop off dramatically, leading to a shortfall in roadway funds. This is why MN-DOT (along with other states) is trying to figure out now if a mileage-based user fee will work in lieu of today's gas tax.

[Source: Minnesota Department of Transportation]
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Mn/DOT to test technology used for potential mileage-based user fee

Research is next step in determining new ways to meet Minnesota's necessary infrastructure needs

ST PAUL, Minn.-The Minnesota Department of Transportation today announced that it will recruit 500 people from Wright and Hennepin counties to take part in research to test technology that could someday be used to collect a mileage-based user fee. Mn/DOT will start recruiting volunteers for the Minnesota Road Fee Test in May and research will begin in July 2011.

"This research will provide important feedback from motorists about the effectiveness of using technology in a car or truck to gather mileage information," said Cory Johnson, project manager. "We are researching alternative financing methods today that could be used 10 or 20 years from now when the number of fuel efficient and hybrid cars increase and no longer produce enough revenue from a gas tax to build and repair roads."

In 2007 the Minnesota Legislature appropriated $5 million from the trunk highway fund for the demonstration. Mn/DOT has contracted with several companies to conduct the technology research. An adequate evaluation of MBUF technology must include a parallel policy evaluation, so Mn/DOT awarded a $395,000 contract to the University of Minnesota Humphrey School to conduct the policy study.

If a mileage-based user fee were implemented, motorists would pay a fee based on how many miles they drive, rather than on how much gas a vehicle uses, which is how Minnesota's gas tax is now designed.

The research will help Mn/DOT and public policy leaders understand the challenges and opportunities in such a system.

Mn/DOT is seeking volunteers from Wright and Hennepin counties because the population offers a mix of motorists who travel on rural and metro area roads. The volunteers will use a Smart Phone with a GPS application that also has been programmed to allow motorists to submit information, which Mn/DOT will use to evaluate whether the device provides timely, reliable travel data from that specific trip. In addition, the test will examine whether other applications, such as real-time traffic alerts that provide information on construction zones, crashes, congestion and road hazards, are effective in communicating safety messages to motorists. Three different groups of volunteers will test the devices for six months each. The volunteers will be paid a nominal stipend to cover the expenses of this test.

The technical research is designed to record miles and road use while strictly protecting the privacy of participants. The participants' names and home contact information, as well as the data that identifies their vehicle, financial account information, travel routes, and days and times of trips, are classified as not public by the Minnesota Department of Administration to ensure that the research and results are valid.

Mn/DOT has established a policy task force to examine implications of implementing a mileage-based user fee. The task force, to be chaired by former state representative Bernie Lieder, will hold meetings throughout the state and survey Minnesotans about concerns that should be addressed before such a fee could be implemented.

Other state DOTs also are researching alternative financing methods to supplement or replace a gas tax. The state of Oregon conducted a similar study completed in November 2007 and Iowa, Nevada and Texas are among several states currently researching mileage-based user fees.

Minnesota's highway revenues are derived from three sources: the gas tax, vehicle registration fee or tabs and the motor vehicle sales tax. These funding sources support construction and maintenance of a highway system. Based on its last state transportation plan, Mn/DOT anticipates as much as a $50 billion transportation funding shortfall during the next 20 years.
The research is scheduled to end by December 2012 and results will be made available to the public at www.mndot.gov.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ugg.......time to get out of MN...it's becoming too much like that wacko-state California.
      Ford Future
      • 4 Years Ago
      Welcome to American "Democracy" where any GPS-Oil Company can push thru the stupidest TaxPayer Gouging Piece of Legislation, all because we have a bunch of Koch Brother CROOKS on the US Supreme Court that ALLOW our Legislature to be BRIBED, instead of directing the FBI to Prosecute.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Ford Future
        Random "CAPITALIZATION" and run on sentences make your points much more SYMPATHETIC, and certainly drive your political BULLSHIT to new HIGHTS, certainly not MAKING you look insane (FBI? wtf are you on).
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is a bad idea. The gas tax acts as a Pigouvian incentive to promote fuel efficiency, which plays double duty to generate revenue for road repairs. These benefits are negated by switching to a mileage-based system. Not to mention that roadway damage is dependent on the weight of the vehicle, which relates to fuel consumption fairly consistently. If revenues do in fact decline over the coming decade, the answer is to increase the gas tax, not switch to a different system.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Low mph vehicles are usually lighter than others and cause less wear on the road surfaces. Using this logic, the government should pay those of us who have high mpg cars......much like designer-clothes makers should pay us to advertise for them, not demand a premium from us. Government spending has been outpacing our economic growth for some years now. Time to put on the brakes.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "Not to mention that roadway damage is dependent on the weight of the vehicle, which relates to fuel consumption fairly consistently." No it doesn't. Not by a long shot. Roadway damage is proportional to the CUBE of the axle weight, which means a 4 ton car does 8 times as much damage as a 2 ton car. But you can bet that the 4 ton car doesn't pay 8 times as much in gas taxes!
        • 8 Months Ago
        Either install an expensive system of vehicle tracking. Expensive wasteful & complicated. Or: Charge people with electric or other untaxed fuel vehicles more for vehicle registration. Easy efficient & simple. Volt pays the registration surcharge & gas tax because it is "more than electric".
      • 4 Years Ago
      why not just follow the model of cigarette tax? raise the gasoline tax more and more to keep up the revenue until they are totally out.
      Mike Pulsifer
      • 4 Years Ago
      That would totally hose the rural lower-middle class that have to travel greater distances. Urban elites, obviously don't see a problem. They don't travel as much and it would be a lighter impact on their finances.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Mike Pulsifer
        Also people who fly to vacation destinations would pay less than those who drive. More cost shifting to the lower & middle class.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Mike Pulsifer
        C'mon guys, lets try to take a deep breath and think everything through before making assumptions. MNDOT is trying to find a way to more fairly deal with the wear and tear done to our roads, the current system still taxes people based on how much they drive, rural people STILL pay more because they drive more... lord. However, in a world where cars are more and more efficient, or don't use gas at all, they don't pay their share of tax for the roads they use. Also, this doesn't mean they will add this on top of the taxes that currently exists, eventually it would replace Gas tax. Although, with our current republican controlled legislature, there is a better chance of the gas tax being eliminated than anything being added...
      • 8 Months Ago
      One more thing, they dont tell you the Hybrids, cost you about $75.00 a month for the electric you use, so we wont win either way.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Why not just slap a huge tax on plug in cars at the time they are purchased and collect up front from them?
      • 8 Months Ago
      Thank God , mcain palin didnt win........ it would be Game over for everyone except the utra rich & the politicians
      • 8 Months Ago
      They will do everything they can to strip you from every dollar you own!!!!!
      • 8 Months Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      WTF........ write your congressmen...... senators.....governor ,,,,,,, flood them with complaints. ask WTF are you guys doing.
      Jerome Smith
      • 8 Months Ago
      you may be able to disconnect the speed sensor at the trans. check with your neighborhood teen.They will know all about it
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