White-Paper "RUC Pilot Programs in the US: the Customer Experience"
Through the Road Usage Charge (RUC) pilot programs in Washington state, California, and Oregon, participants drove over 37 million miles, logging over 4,026 emails and phone calls with about 12,000 participants across the three states. Finally, by the end of 2019, these RUC pilot programs were all complete, and each state DOT learned unique information about their programs and capabilities to scale statewide.
California learned that it may be difficult to scale a program statewide, due to concerns of citizens across the state related to privacy, ease of use, and consistent results; Oregon learned that citizens were very concerned about equity, especially for drivers that frequently cross state lines; while Washington state learned that calculating payments and coordinating with individual state taxes would pose challenges. Ultimately, each state, from 2015 on, learned a lot about RUC and it is obvious that states are looking into RUC programs nationwide, which seem on the surface to be more equitable than the current fuel tax as a pay for infrastructure. Particularly in red states, that tend to be averse to additional taxes, the concept or RUC is easier to introduce.
In Europe particularly, RUC has been in existence in various forms for almost a decade, with over 1.2 million enrolled in these types of programs across multiple nation-states (1). As Europeans have been accustomed to paying for their own infrastructure maintenance since the end of the World War II, they are more amenable to the concept of RUC, versus Americans that experienced government run infrastructure creation and maintenance for the past 60 years – which is now crumbling as our country falls deeper into national debt and the gas tax withers away. In this white paper, A-to-Be will explore specifically the user experiences through pilots in Washington state, California, and Oregon, making recommendations on the best practices for RUC programs moving forward in the United States. It is imperative that states continue to explore and implement RUC programs in order to pay from crumbling infrastructure in an equitable manner for citizens and the environment.