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V E H I C L E M I L E S TR A VELED: T HE NEXT F U NDING F R ONTIER ? 43 who must travel longer distances be unduly burdened? and using their input to build support within the truck- Could this be mitigated by charging by facility type or ing industry. level of congestion and allocating additional funding to Use of a truck VMT fee could result in a reduction rural transit? Would this remove the incentive for people in the fees collected from truckers. Half a dozen truck to drive environmentally friendly vehicles? Could this be companies have expressed interest in participating in a mitigated by pricing by vehicle weight or emission rates? voluntary demonstration program involving real money Research conducted by TTI has focused on public opin- at risk, which could start as early as late 2010. The cost ion. The public appears to prefer basic odometer reading of implementing a pilot project is still being worked out. systems; charges would be paid at the gasoline pump, Truck companies already pay communication fees, and and there would be an option to migrate to more sophis- the VMT fee system could provide benefits by allowing ticated technologies in the future. Mr. Baker stated that companies to know where their trucks are at all times. transparency is essential, as is the ability to audit the charges. Questions and Answers Truck VMT Fees: A Practical Way Question: How was the cost of the onboard units cal- to Generate Revenue, Reduce Traffic culated? Congestion, and Improve Freight Mobility Answer: It was amortized over 20 years. Dick Mudge of Delcan discussed the option of using Question: How can enforcement issues be best addressed truck VMT fees as a means of generating revenue and with onboard units? providing other opportunities. He stated that it may Answer: There are multiple ways of confirming be easier from a public acceptance perspective to begin whether onboard units are active. If they are part of the with truck-only VMT fees, given the lower installa- original equipment, vehicle owners could not easily dis- tion costs and reduced privacy concerns. One approach connect or tamper with them. would be to make the truck VMT fees revenue-neutral by removing or altering other fees levied on trucks. Sim- Question: Is there a risk that VMT could diminish in the plicity is always desirable, but truck VMT fees could future as baby boomers drive less? What would be the vary by class of truck, class of road, time of day, and revenue risk associated with VMT fees? congestion. Although truckers have limited flexibility Answer: It does not matter because the gasoline tax with regard to delivery times, only 4 percent of truck would decrease even more. It would be easier to increase VMT occurs in congested urban areas. It would also the VMT fee a fraction of a cent than it would be to gen- be helpful to develop a system by working with a small erate a comparable boost in fees from the motor fuel tax, number of motor carriers with a variety of operations which would require an increase of 5 cents per gallon.
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