As fuel consumption drops, the reliability of gasoline tax as a funding source for infrastructure is expected to reduce even further in the near future. Spurred by this harsh reality, states are interested in finding ways of charging drivers for miles driven. Minnesota’s Department of Transportation, working with Battelle, is testing a mileage-based user fee that relies on smartphones programmed with a GPS application that allows motorists to submit information. The idea is to keep the strategy as simple as possible and demonstrate that a mileage-based user fee could be successfully deployed using infrastructure that’s available right now.
Since consumers already carry smartphones in their vehicles, there’s no need for a state to deploy a million-dollar system to do this. The Minnesota effort, which began in 2011, is aimed at finding ways to reduce the state’s reliance on the shrinking proceeds from the gasoline tax as a way to fund roads and highways.