Monday, April 13, 2009

Mileage user fees vs. Fuel Tax

Starting tomorrow, the Texas Transportation Institute will host the Symposium on Mileage-Based User Fees here in Austin. "This symposium will bring together professionals in the field of road user fees to share information and advance the discussion of user-based fees as a potential replacement for the fuel tax. Representatives from past, current and upcoming pilot studies and implementations will present lessons learned and key study topics from their projects. Panel discussions will address specific topics such as legislative and policy issues, public acceptance challenges, potential technology applications, and institutional issues. The symposium will incorporate interactive discussion sessions on logical next steps as well as the associated challenges and opportunities." Cost of Registration $300ish.

Sounds like a really interesting topic and there has been a lot of talk regarding transitioning to user fees here in Texas. The Oregon Department of Transportation is participating and has published a report entitled Oregon's Mileage Fee and Road User Fee Pilot Program. I reviewed it quickly because I am curious about whether cyclists are included in the category of road users and thus would be charged a fee. I didn't see any references whatsoever to a cyclist or bicycle. Interestingly enough, Oregon's 2006 Report states that bicycles provide insufficient revenue. Of course, that was 2006. I hope that transportation officials continue to have this perspective - it provides further incentive to ride, walk, and/or carpool!