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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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  • 252 Comments
      nnflfan
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think this tax will only apply to electric cars as the fossil fueled still pay taxes at the pump. I think it is awful idea, but like it or not it will happen. I do not know how they would collect this tax except by adding a highway use surcharge to all peoples & businesses electric bills. everybody pays, then they should cut the taxes on gas & oil.
      larry
      • 3 Months Ago
      dysolomon07----If memory serves me correctly, Bill Clinton left office with a surplus because he "borrowed" money from Social Security. Never to re-pay it back. Clinton's "borrowing" and lack of payback contributed to the cuts and shortages in Social Security today. Social security should never have been touched for anything other than security payments as it was originally intended for. Social security was paid for and set up as an insurance policy by working people. The working people paid into the SS fund over time. there is a lot of fraud involved with SS, medicare and medicaid. Many people are collecting social security, medicare, medicaid and unemployment benefits but have never worked a day in their life or contributed to the working class. In some cases, it has been going on from one generation to another and some families feel it's an entitlement to inherit as brought out on a 1994 Oprah Winfrey show . Some families on that show felt they should not have to work, and the government should pay them to stay home and have babies. It 's no surprize to me, social security and other entitlements are being cut. There is too much "fraud" . The fraud is so rampant in the SS, medicare, medicaid and unemployment, It would benefit the government to investigate fraudulant cases of people collecting social security, medicare, medicaid, state aid, unemployment, workmens comp, and student loans. Let's start with the undocumented and illegal alliens of ALL races, in all states. Don't even start on the "reduced" cost and subsidized school lunch programs. That's another Government free-be that taxpayers are being ripped-off by fraudulant individuals bilking the taxpayer because they are too lazy to pack a lunch for their kid.
        animal2605
        • 3 Months Ago
        @larry
        I never heard that about the social security surplus being used but I have been asking what happened to it. I do recall that twice it was on the ballot what to do with it. Twice the public overwhelimingly voted to leave it there and leave it alone. If in fact they still did raid it, then all involved should pay it back with interest or prison. I also agree that too much of it is given to illegal aliens, yet so many think it is a over exageration. The most glaring example is a relative of Obama's who is drawing disability, and is admittedly here illegally, and has no plans to try to make it legal. I also know of legal immigrants who are subsidized by the government, and even while working to support themselves, they still draw it. I can understand getting a leg up to get started, but when does it end? There is so much I agree with what you say, yet I also see those who need help having to fight to get it. I had to hire a attorney and it cost me 6 thousand dollars to get on disabiltiy myself. I think the problem is that we were born and raised here, and we paid into it.
        • 3 Months Ago
        @larry
        LARRY I AM A MOTHER, BLACK MOTHER, I WORKED 8 AND 16 HOURS A DAY TO RAISE 3 BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN A SON AND 2 DAUGHTERS, THEY GRADUATED FROM SCHOOL AND WENT TO COLLEGE, LET ME TELL YOU IT WASN'T EASY, BUT THANK GOD I MADE IT I WAS A SINGLE MOTHER A WIDOW, I WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW ALL MOTHERS ARE NOT LAZY, WHEN I DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY FOR ME, I GAVE MY CHILDREN MONEY FOR LUNCH AT SCHOOL I WENT WITH OUT LUNCH ON MY JOB AND NEVER TOLD ANYONE THAT I DIDN'T HAVE MONEY TO EAT I FED MY CHILDREN, ALL MOTHERS ARNT LAZY, SOME MOTHERS JUST GIVE UP BECAUSE THINGS GOT SO HARD, THATS WHY I PRAISE GOD EVERY DAY FOR HIS MERCY AND GRACE HE DIDN'T LET ME GIVE UP, SO STOP TRASHING PEOPLE AND GIVE A HELPING HAND, YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT A PERSON IS GOING THRU, AND THANK GOD THAT YOU NEVER HAD TO GO WITH OUT FOOD, AND LARRY YOU HAVE A BLESSED DAY, TRAM
      Annika
      • 3 Months Ago
      This law is BS. If it's all about roads, it doesn't matter how much you drive; you need a road regardless whether you drive a car every day or just once a week. Now, if anything, tax heavy vehicles like semis that wear our roads out faster than lighter cars.
        absentcompanions
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Annika
        They already heavily tax highway trucks and trailers. The designers of our highway system are supose to design roads that can handle the weight of these trucks and for the most part they haven't. European highway construction, in particular German construction, is far superior to ours and at a smaller cost.
          wenritahouse
          • 3 Months Ago
          @absentcompanions
          The highways in the United States can't handle the truck & trailer traffic! I suggest that on several highways that have heavy truck and trailer traffic that they divert them on a truck route only for a few miles and see how the highway stands up with truck & Trailers only verses cars and p/up trucks and SUV's. It's the big trucks that are tearing up our roads, so they should be heavily taxed. The roads are under constant construction or are in need of repair all the time. This is the way I've found the roads in the southern states to be and I've been in in a few across the central part of the country and they are just as bad. They need to come up with a new substance that will last longer or perhaps it's the BED that needs to be looked at. If the bed isn't any good I don't care what you pour on it, nothing will last for very long. NOT LONG AGO SOMEONE WAS SAYING SOMETHING ABOUT A GLASS SURFACE WITH SOLAR IMPLANTS TO KEEP THE ROADS FREE FROM SNOW AND ICE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT KIND OF GLASS OR IF IT WAS MIXED WITH ANOTHER SUBSTANCE OR WHAT, BUT IT SOUNDED INTERESTING TO ME. I SAY LET THEM PROVE IT ON A HALF MILE STRETCH OF HIGHWAY AND SEE HOW IT STANDS UP UNDER HEAVY TRAFFIC IN ALL KINDS OF WEATHER. THIS IS THE WAY TO FIND OUT IF IDEAS ARE ANY GOOD OR NOT. WE MIGHT THINK ABOUT TOLL ROADS AS THE WAY TO GO. IF YOU TRAVEL 50 MILES OR MORE ONE WAY ON AN INTERSTATE HWY THEN PAY A TOLL. THAT WAY THE ELECTRIC CAR GUY PAYS HIS SHARE. I DON'T THINK THE GUY GOING TO WORK EVERY DAY NEEDS TO PAY A TOLL EVERY DAY TO DRIVE 20 OR 30 MILES TO GET TO HIS OFFICE. BUT IF YOU'RE DRIVING 50 MILES OR MORE, THEN MORE THAN LIKELY YOU ARE PASSING THROUGH.
          ettenyl19
          • 3 Months Ago
          @absentcompanions
          If we make better roads that don't need to be repaired as often then we are putting people out of work. That is why we don't make the highly engineered superior roads that Germany makes.
          • 3 Months Ago
          @absentcompanions
          In Europe the roads are built to a ten year standard.In the U.S. they're only built to a five year standard.
      ordobtrebla
      • 3 Months Ago
      Read the story before you make a comment.. What they are saying is...The more we get away from using gas...The less taxes are collected.. He is saying 10 -20 years from now If we aren't using taxable gasoline.. We have to come up with a system where we can draw money from.. To keep our roads and highways in shape..
      • 3 Years Ago
      LOL..."People are finding ways to conserve fuel so we must find another way to tax them to death." I say Social Security should be an OPTION. I can tell you right now I can do a better job of saving for my retirement than ANY politician can. Heck, If I had just put it in a coffee can in the yard I would be better off then to rely on SS.........And of course, no politician has SS for retirement, they voted themselves full pay for life....and not one of them has seen fit to try & fix that injustice.......
      jonyla
      • 3 Months Ago
      This is stupid if you drive you use gas. The more you drive the more gas you buy, the more taxes you pay. Isn't that about it in a nut shell?
      johnjhenry1
      • 3 Years Ago
      living in china might be a better option
        Tony
        • 3 Months Ago
        @johnjhenry1
        I can only presume that the persons in favor of your comment are asking you to go ahead and move to China
      • 3 Years Ago
      The day that law passes will be the day a lot of politicians will be voted out of office. How much longer are these idiots going to bleed us dry? Are they radicals or just trying to become a dictatership? stuff
      rcarr80807
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nothing will change until we get rid of Clownbama and his Liberal ilk. Everything cost so much because of scumbad Liberals and all there regulations. Just remember next time you vote, there are no good Democrats and very few good Republicans. Always vote out incumbents unless it would put in a Democrat, but remember a bad Republican is better than a Democrat
        jgrienin
        • 3 Months Ago
        @rcarr80807
        Where is your proof? What are you basing your statements on? You are obviously brainwashed. The Repubs are responsible for this mess starting with Reagan and the two Bush's.
        • 3 Months Ago
        @rcarr80807
        As I recall President Clinton left office with a government surplus, oh yeah, he's a democrat. Didn't take long for the republicans to spend it. Gee, could it be because the rich republicans weren't adding to the tax base, and democrats are too poor to carry everybody.
        • 3 Months Ago
        @rcarr80807
        YOU'RE LIKE EVERY OTHER REPUB; JUST PLAIN FULL OF IT!
      texconn
      • 3 Months Ago
      You folks should not get upset until you know how Minnesota implements the fee. I drive about 4000 miles a year in Arizona. My little truck gets bout 25 MPG. That is 160 gallons of gas. Az gas tax is 19 cents per gallon. I pay $30.40 a year gasoline tax. That is .0076 cents per mile. Say they would charge .01 cent per mile. That is 40.00 per year. The folks who drive 12000 miles per year and get 20 MPG pay $114.00 per year tax. So before you folks fly off the handle why not wait for all the info. P.S. I'm retired
      boowah
      • 3 Months Ago
      A Better Idea..........Eliminate the Gas Tax entirely and replace it with an excess profits tax on the Oil Companies! Price of gas goes down, the economy picks up, and the price gougers pay for it!
      • 3 Months Ago
      Might as well just keep the taxes.... How is that suppose to help the consumer out. Now the state is looking to take the money from us instead!!!
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