Mileage-Based Road User Charge Concept

A new approach is presented for charging vehicles that travel on public roadways. This approach applies intelligent transportation system technology to the problem of assessing road user charges, enabling these charges to be fairer, more stable, and more flexible. The approach is amenable to alternative forms of vehicle propulsion systems. Though very simple in concept, the new approach has required that a number of institutional and technological issues be resolved. Key to this approach is a simple onboard computer that stores a record of actual road use charges. Periodically this record is uploaded and transmitted to a data processing center, referred to as the collection center. The center bills a vehicle owner and reimburses the states, counties, and cities operating the roads on which the vehicle has traveled. The onboard system is simple, secure, and capable of protecting the user's privacy. Importantly, the onboard system enables a variety of user charge conventions. In its simplest form, this approach can be used to assess a vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) user charge. With a VMT user charge, the computer can calculate road mileage actually traversed and compare this mileage with that obtained through an odometer feed. It then applies appropriate user charge rates to the mileage traveled in each jurisdiction.