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There are many more trips in any region on non-tolled facilities [than on tolled facilities]. Road usage charging would include all trips by all RUC-subject vehicles in the state

because all state-registered vehicles (cars and trucks) would be subject to a road usage charge. Tolling represents a small number of trips in any geographic area – there are many more trips in any region on non-tolled facilities. Road usage charging would include all trips by all RUC-subject vehicles in the state. As an example of the difference in scale, Florida, a state

with a well-developed toll road network, has 750 center- line miles of toll facilities compared with 12,084 centerline miles of highways and 121,386 centerline miles of roads altogether.1

choice would be to choose whether or not to make a trip, and if so, what the best transport mode would be to make those trips. In modeling performed by Imperial College London,

Since road usage charging would be collected

across the full network, it would cover 161 times more miles than tolls in Florida. Moreover, there are approximately 16m vehicles in Florida.2

Considering an annual mileage for each

vehicle, this is almost 2 billion miles of annual travel miles that would be subject to a road usage charge, if all vehicles were subject to RUC. The second difference – in light of the much larger scale of

RUC relative to tolls – is that the per-mile charges for RUC are much smaller than on toll facilities. Toll rates vary, but operators typically charge on the basis of a segment or for use of the entire facility. When divided by the distance driven, tolls often equate to a per-mile charge often above US$0.10 per mile and as high as $0.50 and even over US$1.00 per mile for point-based or special facilities such as tunnels and bridges. The state average in Florida is approximately US$0.15 per mile. North Carolina is averaging US$0.15 per mile with ETC payments and US$0.24 per mile for video or cash payments. California, a state that moved to tolls more recently, has a

higher average of US$0.32 per mile. A spreadsheet illustrat- ing this point is available by emailing the editor of this pub- lication at By contrast, RUC pilots have tested rates with a smaller order of magnitude of US$0.01 to US$0.02 per mile, which is fairly consistent with fuel taxes as a proxy for RUC. Considering the rate and the average number of miles driven in a year, most drivers would face an annual RUC bill on par with what they currently pay in fuel taxes, between US$200-300 per year. A third difference is the presence of user choice. Toll road

users choose to take a toll road. They generally have the option of a toll road and the public or state road to choose for their journey. The toll road may provide higher value and timesavings to attract users from using the alternate or paral- lel un-tolled roads. When road usage charging legislation is passed, every vehicle (or every member of a class of vehicles subject to RUC) that uses or drives on any road must pay the road usage charge. There are no free roads! Hence, the user


UK, and by the Southern California Association of Govern- ments, road usage charging would suppress 8–14 per cent of all journeys by eliminating “low-value” trips. [Archer and Glaister, Investing in Roads: Pricing, Costs and New Capac- ity, November 2006]. These trips are generally chained into a single trip of multiple purposes or users change mode of travel, including cycling and walking for short distance trips. Additionally, they just don’t make the trip due to its low value in the mind of the user. The fourth difference between RUC and tolling is the

potential for using revenues for bonding future projects. Bonding against toll revenues is typically allowed to pay only for the toll facility. Bonding against RUC would be similar to states that bond against the gas tax today – the bonds can be used to pay for all transportation costs in all parts of the state. Tolling bonding capacity is also limited by traffic risk on a given facility, while RUC bonding capacity would be limited only by economic indicators for a given state – the same as the gas tax. Once RUC revenues would grow as large and steady as gas tax revenues, this means much lower risk and therefore lower cost of borrowing than can be achieved with tolling and the dwindling revenues from gas taxes.

DIFFERING TECHNOLOGIES A fifth difference between the two concepts is the technol- ogy to implement the charges. Tolling has evolved to use ETC tags or transponders, video capture of license plates, and roadside infrastructure to read the passage of vehicles through tolling points on the road. The system requires roadside technology (and to a large extent in-vehicle tech- nology) to operate and identify a vehicle and the charges to be billed to a user’s account. Scaling up tolling infrastructure to cover an entire road

network in a state or region is cost prohibitive. Instead, road usage charging employs technology that reads either the vehi- cle miles or calculates them independently, stores the data and then communicates it to the account manager over-the- air. It can also be based on periodic self-reporting or verified reporting of the vehicle odometer. All miles driven between the two odometer readings are charged. Technologically, the approaches available for RUC scarcely resemble tolling. One final difference between tolling and road usage

charging is that tolling technologies are typically stand- alone applications, not providing services other than tolling. Vol 8 No 3 North America

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