Road Charge Projects
California Four Phase Demonstration
A key recommendation from the 2017 pilot was to explore whether paying at the pump could work for a road charge just like it does for the gas tax. How could the user experience be as easy as possible? With support from a federal Surface Transportation Funding Alternative grant, California is testing how road charge can work with four technologies: usage-based insurance, ridesharing, electric vehicle charging stations/pay-at-the-pump systems, and autonomous vehicles.
The Four Phase Demonstration was held January through June 2021. An evaluation of the demonstration and a final report are in development to summarize demonstration operations, findings, and next steps.
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Pay-at-the-Pump / Electric Vehicle Charging
Currently, Californians pay the gas tax when they buy gas. It’s so easy, you don’t even realize that you are doing it. Could a road charge be collected in the same, easy way? The phase tested how Californians could pay their road charge user fees when they fill up at the gas station. In addition, this phase tested how a road charge could be collected at a charging station for electric vehicles.
As technology advances, many industries are adapting to provide better service to their customers. The auto insurance industry is now offering potential lower insurance rates if customers share more detailed driving information, including the number of miles driven. If an individual has already provided an insurance company with their mileage numbers, why not have the insurance company calculate the road charge and just add it to the bill? This phase demonstrated how the State could partner with auto insurance companies to serve as account managers that can easily, accurately, and securely calculate and collect road charge payments.
Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)
One growing shift in California's transportation system is the use of ride hailing services. These transportation network companies are now common in most of the state's urban communities. The mileage for each ride is captured as the basis of the trip's cost, so why not calculate a road charge at the same time? This phase explored the viability of collecting a road charge using technology already incorporated in real-time ridesharing vehicles and applications.
As we look toward the future of transportation, autonomous vehicles loom large on the horizon. The technology in these vehicles collects and analyzes a multitude of information, including the number of miles the vehicle has traversed. The phase worked with an autonomous vehicle operator to demonstrate how to collect vehicle and occupancy data from autonomous vehicles for a road charge system.