TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) division has weighed in on road user fees based on vehicle miles traveled or VMT. Their latest report Implementable Strategies for Shifting to Direct Usage-Based Charges for Transportation Funding responds to VMT’s critics who say the transportation funding method would be too challenging and require a lengthy implementation period. The report outlines strategies for shifting to direct user-based charges for transportation funding, focusing on incremental VMT mechanisms which can be fully implemented in the next five years. The discussion is generally limited to the technical aspects of various VMT fee mechanisms, avoiding the thornier issues of public and political acceptance.
The issuance of the NCHRP report adds to a growing body of support for a revamping of the traditional means of funding highway construction and maintenance. In February of this year, the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission issued its final report recommending the use of VMT. Interim and long-term VMT strategies will no doubt have a central role in the upcoming debate over the surface transportation reauthorization measure.
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