The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is seeking volunteers to participate in a road usage charge (RUC) study. The study will focus on identifying how a RUC system that reflects unique Midwestern needs could help fund transportation investments. The study is being supported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and coordinated with the Minnesota DOT to expand the pilot’s reach.
A road usage charge, or RUC, is a policy whereby drivers pay to use the road based on miles driven. It is sometimes referred to as vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fees or a mileage-based user fee (MBUF).
Our state roads and bridges are funded primarily by motor fuel tax revenues, the taxes we pay at the pump. This funding continues to decline with the increased number of electrics and as people drive fewer miles. A recent KDOT study indicates that by 2045, our transportation system could rely on sales taxes for 60% of revenue, which is not likely to be sustainable. This is a nationwide issue, but to date, the discussion on how a RUC could work has been primarily led by research on the East and West Coasts. KDOT’s RUC Study is the first major pilot to bring a local, Midwest perspective to this important discussion.
Kansas is the first DOT to engage drivers to help design the RUC pilot—helping ensure we consider what matters most to the people who use our state’s roads and bridges. The study will be done in three phases. Phase one is seeking volunteers to engage in activities and provide feedback that will inform what the RUC pilot looks like. For instance, drivers may record mileage, and cost to drive per mile would be calculated and compared to the cost of what the driver would have paid in gas tax.