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National League of Cities suggests charging road users by the mile

The National League of Cities has released a report aimed at helping local leaders pilot road user charge systems to address the country’s transportation infrastructure deficit.

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NLC wants to help ensure the road infrastrucutre can keep up with smart mobility projects
NLC wants to help ensure the road infrastrucutre can keep up with smart mobility projects

The National League of Cities (NLC) has released a report aimed at helping local leaders pilot road user charge (RUC) systems.

 

According to NLC, RUC systems could be used as a potential sustainable funding solution for America’s transportation infrastructure deficit and an answer to the financial challenges of the Highway Trust Fund. The fund is set to run dry by 2021.

 

An RUC system, also referred to as a vehicle miles travelled (VMT) tax or a mileage-based user fee (MBUF), would charge a driver for use of a roadway.

 

A funding fix?

 

In the report, Fixing Funding by the Mile: A Primer and Analysis of Road User Charge Systems, NLC explores how RUC systems can become a funding alternative to keep up with US transportation mobility projects.

 

The report analyses the technology behind RUC systems, reviews the different pilot programmes, and shows the potential advantages and barriers to implementing a programme in the US.

 

“Having safe, reliable infrastructure is a priority for every single local leader,” said Karen Freeman-Wilson, president of NLC and mayor of Gary, Indiana.

 

“Investing in infrastructure means investing in the people in our communities. By piloting new technologies like road user charge systems, local leaders have the opportunity to find ways to sustainably and equitably fund infrastructure.”

 

In 2016, 3.2 trillion miles were driven on US roads. Autonomous vehicle technology, app-based mobility models and promises of smart city connectivity now make road user models more practical for the future.

 

Furthermore, gas tax revenues, which have traditionally funded infrastructure projects, are projected to drop steadily with the advent of electric vehicles.

"By piloting new technologies like road user charge systems, local leaders have the opportunity to find ways to sustainably and equitably fund infrastructure”

By 2025, 14 per cent of road vehicles could be electric. These systems could charge a driver for their use of a roadway and provide sustainable funding for America’s transportation.

 

Recommendations for cities looking to implement pilots include:

  • encourage collaborative efforts
  • gain state legislative buy-in
  • understand public opinion
  • provide the public with options.

“The mobility landscape is changing: driverless cars, electric vehicles, e-scooters and even robots are coming to our streets. But we still haven’t fixed our nation’s infrastructure,” added Brooks Rainwater, senior executive and director for NLC’s Centre for City Solutions.

“We all deserve safe roads and bridges, clean drinking water and access to broadband. Ultimately, city leaders will be the ones to usher in the innovative, forward-looking systems to get us there.”

 

NLC said its top legislative priority in 2019 is “rebuilding and reimagining” America’s infrastructure. Its Rebuild With Us campaign has prioritised ways congress and the administration can work with local leaders in key areas, including transforming transportation systems, broadband and water infrastructure.

 

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