The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) has retained D’Artagnan Consulting as the prime contractor to assist with formulation, design, management and implementation of the Washington Road Usage Charge Pilot Project.
As the fuel efficiency of vehicles increases, and more drivers turn to electric or other alternative fuel vehicles, gasoline consumption decreases and this equates to a reduction in gas tax revenues over time.
The fuel tax serves as the major source of funding for building and maintaining the state’s highways, bridges and ferries, and with a projected decrease in revenues of nearly 50% by 2035, state government has been looking at alternative models. Under the direction of the state legislature, the WSTC has been assessing a Road Usage Charge (RUC) as a possible replacement for the gas tax in the future, and a 25-member steering committee has guided this work since 2012.
In December 2016, the WSTC approved a plan to conduct a pilot project that will simulate how this system might work. Drivers across the state will have a chance to ‘test drive’ a proposed system that would charge them by the mile, rather than by the gallon of gas, for their road usage. The pilot project will demonstrate and evaluate an operational RUC system with a minimum of 2,000 volunteers for a period of 12 months, expected to begin in January 2018. Pilot project participants will choose different ways to participate and report their vehicle’s mileage. Some options do not involve any technology, such as manually reporting odometer readings, while others will trial systems that make use of GPS, smartphones or in-vehicle devices such as telematics-based onboard units (OBUs). Because this is a simulation, participants will not be charged for any miles driven, but will pay the gas tax in the normal way.
As the state’s prime contractor, D’Artagnan has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from companies that wish to be considered for the following functions:
Provision of the operational concepts selected by WSTC:
Automated distance charge (with general location);
Automated distance charge (without location);
Collectively, across two proposers, provision of the following supporting mileage reporting technologies for automated distance charge and odometer-based operational concepts:
OBDII device (with and without general location);
Smartphone app to report and transmit mileage data to a RUC account manager for verification and calculation of the RUC owed.
The RFP is open until June 19.