Assessing the challenges of a mileage-based user fee as an alternative to the fuel tax

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As cars and trucks become more fuel efficient and more vehicles switch to battery-electric or alternative fuels, the need to replace the federal fuel tax with a different source of funding becomes more important. 

Vehicles are still contributing to the wear and tear of highways and bridges as much as ever, but the fuel tax isn't as lucrative for the Highway Trust Fund as it used to be. Groups are working with Congress to develop an alternative to the fuel tax that will be fair for all highway users but will also provide enough funding to the Highway Trust fund. 

In this week's 10-44, Jason and Matt talk with Dr. Trish Hendren, executive director of The Eastern Transportation Coalition, which is one of those groups working on a solution. TETC, in particular, has been working on a mileage-based user fee (MBUF) for several years and will soon be launching the fourth phase of its research to find the most equitable solution for passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks. 

Because trucks are heavy highway users, TETC has been working with the industry in its quest to develop a fair MBUF. The group at the end of February released its report from the third phase of its study, which found through a national truck MBUF pilot that a tiered rate based on miles per gallon of a vehicle won't work for trucking. The fourth phase of TETC's work will look into a MBUF for trucks based on the registered weight of the vehicle. 

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