The Honorable Peter DeFazio, Chair, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
The Honorable Sam Graves, Ranking Member, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
The Honorable Thomas R. Carper, Chair, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito, Ranking Member, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Dear Chairs DeFazio and Carper, and Ranking Members Graves and Capito:
As your committees begin work to reauthorize surface transportation programs, we write in support of creating a comprehensive national vehicle miles traveled (VMT) implementation program.
The long-term need to transition away from motor fuel taxes as the foundation of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) continues to grow. Motor fuel tax receipts are not keeping pace as vehicles become more fuel-efficient and use of new electric vehicles surges. This decline in motor fuel tax receipts will continue. So far this century, Congress has chosen to provide regular General Fund and other transfers to keep the HTF solvent. Since 2008, such transfers have totaled $158 billion. Congress must consider a long-term solution to ensure HTF viability and the future health of our surface transportation system, and to maintain the user fee principle upon which the HTF is founded. A VMT or mileage-based user fee to replace all current motor fuel taxes and fees is that solution.
In 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act established the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) Program to provide grants to states or groups of states to demonstrate user-based alternative revenue mechanisms that utilize a user fee structure to maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
Since its creation in 2016, the STSFA grant program has provided $73.7 million to 37 projects in states across the nation. It funds projects that test the design, implementation, and acceptance of user-based systems, such as a vehicle mileage-based user fee. Grants also support outreach by transportation officials to help the public understand these new revenue collection methods. We support the continuation of this program to fund critical work happening in states across the nation.
These pilots provide valuable lessons learned and identify several important factors to consider for implementing a national VMT program. It is now time for Congress to leverage the progress made to-date and create a comprehensive national VMT implementation program.
A national implementation program should work in cooperation with the public and private sector to address national implementation issues, such as standards for data collection, user equity, interoperability, administrative structure and costs, and public acceptance. Once these issues are resolved and recommendations for moving forward are made, a system must be tested in an interoperable, national setting. The United States Postal Service and other federal and state fleets provide an ideal testbed for consideration for a national VMT program.
American ingenuity and innovation stand ready to meet these challenges. Congress has an extraordinary opportunity to create and test a much-needed long-term replacement for the user fees that we currently rely on to build our roads and bridges.
We look forward to working with you and your staff to ensure a comprehensive national VMT implementation program in the upcoming surface reauthorization.
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
American Council of Engineering Companies
American Institute of Steel Construction/National Steel Bridge Alliance
American Public Transportation Association
American Road and Transportation Builders Association
American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
Association of American Railroads
Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Associated General Contractors of America
Bipartisan Policy Center Action
Eno Center for Transportation
Governor’s Highway Safety Association
Institute of Transportation Engineers
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association
International Union of Operating Engineers
Laborers International Union of North America
Maryland Transportation Builders and Materials Association
National Asphalt Pavement Association
National Association of County Engineers
National Ready Mix Concrete Association
National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association
Portland Cement Association
United States Chamber of Commerce