KRON—With the influx of hybrid and electric cars, the state of California says gas tax revenues have dwindled.
Those funds are typically used to fund road improvement projects.
The California department is now wheeling out a new pilot program, which could serve as an alternative to the gas tax.
KRON 4’s Philippe Djegal has more on the road charge pilot program.
One of 5,000 volunteers in the California Road charge pilot program, Julie Underwood, lives in Cupertino, but drives to Daly City five days a week, where she serves as the assistant city manager. It is an 80-mile ride round-trip.
“Local governments are really strained for dollars to fix and maintain our infrastructure, like our roads, so i’m very interested personally and professionally to see if there could be alternative revenue sources to replace and repair our roads,” Underwood said.
Annually, cal-trans says the state gas tax revenue is falling $5.7 billion short of its goal.
Hybrid, electric and more fuel efficient cars, which is a big reason people are buying less gas.
The road charge pilot program is similar to the way you pay for your utilities because you’ll be charged based on how much you drive.
“I’m curious to see if it would replace the gas tax,” Underwood said.
During the 9-month long pilot program which started this July, no money will be exchanged because it’s just a test.
In theory, motorists will be charged one and a half cents per mile.
Volunteers like Underwood will track their mileage in various ways, including small devices that you can attach to your car.
Drivers can also pay based on how much time they spend on the road.
Underwood will track her mileage by simply taking a photo of the odometer once a month and entering that information into an app.
“Could this be something that could only be applied maybe for those who drive electric vehicles only?” she questioned. “I’m really curious to find out how the states going to approach this problem.”
Oregon is the only state that has already implemented similar program, though it’s strictly voluntary.
Caltrans will evaluate the successes and failures of the pilot program in March.