Road user charging pilot project is launched in Washington state

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French company Emovis, a leading supplier of toll-based smart mobility systems and services, has announced the start of the Washington Road User Charge (WARUC) Pilot Project.

For 12 months, 2,000 volunteers will participate in the pilot in order to experience the replacement of the gas tax by a pay-per-miles travelled charge. Drivers will simulate paying for the miles they drive rather than the gallons of fuel they buy at the pumps.

The results of this year-long trial will help shape Washington state’s future transportation funding policy. The service delivery and technology division of Abertis, one of the world’s leading highway management companies, Emovis has now launched the initiative, which seeks to explore new ways of providing sustainable transportation revenues to maintain critical road infrastructures in the USA.

The new project is part of the company’s long history of road usage charge (RUC) projects in the USA, where the company is involved in Oregon’s ‘OReGO’ RUC Pilot, as well as similar projects in Europe.

Emovis notes that it is committed to continuous innovation in conceiving smart road-based mobility services, and for the Washington project it is implementing a cloud-hosted back office system, as well as providing the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD-II) mileage recording devices and smartphone app technology.

The development of the app is due to its partnership with Automatic, a San Francisco-based leader in connecting every car on the road to the internet and empowering drivers with knowledge about themselves and their cars. Through this strategic partnership, Emovis is pioneering the introduction of a commercially available off-the-shelf consumer product and applying it to a RUC solution.

As with any state-based road charging program, out-of-state drivers pose a challenge in terms of compliance and revenue enforcement for state road authorities. One of the key objectives of the WARUC pilot is to test multi-jurisdictional charging by relying on the location-aware capabilities of the onboard mileage recording devices.

The simulated charges applied to the participants’ trips differ, depending on the location of each recorded mile travelled. All of this is achieved while adhering to strict privacy and data protection guidelines set out by the state.

The pilot program is aimed at exploring new ways to fund the upkeep of roads and infrastructure as Washington state is confronted with fast-declining gas tax-based revenues, with various methods of mileage reporting due to be tested during the trial.

In September 2017, following a competitive tender, Emovis was selected to provide a turnkey RUC system in support of the Washington State Transportation Commission’s pilot project.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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