General Questions about HiRUC
RUC is a way to pay for roads and bridges based on how many miles we drive, instead of a tax on how many gallons of gas we buy.
In Hawaii, gas taxes are the largest source of funding for the safety, upkeep, and improvement of public roads and bridges. The state gas tax is 16 cents per gallon. The federal government and counties also collect fuel taxes. As Hawaii gets closer to the goal of 100% clean energy by 2045, many people are buying more fuel-efficient cars and trucks. Fewer gallons of gas sold means less gas tax collected. RUC is a possible way we could pay for our roads and bridges in a future without gas taxes.
In addition to paying gas taxes by the gallon, Hawaii drivers also fund roads by through vehicle weight taxes and registration fees. Surcharges on rental cars and tour vehicles also contributes. The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) has investigated the pros and cons of raising these fees along with other options for road and bridge funding, including a higher general excise tax (GET) or income taxes. Highway tolls have been implemented in other states.
The Hawaii Road Usage Charge Demonstration project, or HiRUC, is a three-year research effort led by HDOT where drivers can experience what it would be like to pay for roads through a per-mile charge, without owing any real money.
Vehicle mileage will be calculated based on odometer readings collected during vehicle inspections. Vehicle owners will receive a Driving Report in the mail that shows how many miles they drove in the past year, how much gas tax they paid, and how much they would owe under a RUC instead. The mailings begin in late 2019. This is a limited-time demonstration, and no one will owe any real money.
Throughout the project, HDOT is seeking input from the public. This began with community meetings in the spring of 2019 and will continue throughout the project as motorists have ongoing opportunities to provide input. HDOT is also recruiting volunteers willing to test automated ways of collecting vehicle mileage. Throughout the demonstration, drivers are being asked their opinions and experiences. The results of the demonstration project, including feedback from drivers, will be shared with elected officials for consideration to address Hawaii’s roadway funding challenges.
Hawaii’s fuel tax decline is expected to be faster than most since we are leaders in transitioning to cleaner, more efficient vehicles. Many states face challenges in funding roads and bridges. About a dozen states have examined RUC. Several have conducted statewide pilot tests, including Oregon, California, Washington, Colorado, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Oregon has had a RUC in place since 2015 for some vehicles. Utah enacted new registration fees on hybrid and electric vehicles in 2019 and in 2020 will offer a RUC as an alternative to those fees. New Zealand drivers of diesel vehicles have paid a RUC to fund roads since 1978, and soon EV drivers will pay a RUC there too.
According to initial research by HDOT, residents of rural areas and outlying suburban areas tend to drive older cars with less fuel efficiency. This means they pay more now under the gas tax. If a road usage charge system replaced the gas tax for all vehicles, drivers in these areas would, on average, save money. HDOT will examine this question in more detail as part of the HiRUC research.
As it stands, the gas tax will fade away gradually as drivers buy less or stop buying gas. The state and counties must choose whether to keep the gas tax in place even as it diminishes. HDOT’s research assumes that for Hawaii, a RUC only will work if it replaces the gas tax for the vehicles it applies to.
The purpose of the gas tax is to fund repair and maintenance of roadways and bridges, not to discourage people from driving any type of vehicles (which today are mostly gas-powered). HDOT is focused on ensuring equitable and sustainable funding for roadways and bridges. This research will explore how a RUC might impact future car-buying choices and gather information to understand purchasing decisions. Feedback from electric vehicle owners will be particularly important. HiRUC will present a range of options for elected officials to consider to ensure that a RUC aligns with state energy goals.
Rental car drivers today pay gas taxes. Under a RUC, rental car companies could be assessed the per-mile charge and pass the cost along to their customers.
Vehicles under about 10,000 pounds cause the same level of pavement damage. These include passenger cars, pickups, and SUVs. Vehicles more than 10,000 pounds cause more damage that increases with weight. Those vehicles pay diesel taxes and weight taxes for road maintenance. The RUC research is focusing on passenger vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds because this vehicle category is quickly growing more fuel-efficient and eroding gas tax revenue.
Getting a vehicle inspection is each driver’s responsibility. HDOT’s research is looking at how to ensure correct reporting of odometer readings and detecting odometer fraud.
There are options for enforcing an odometer-based or technology-based mileage reporting. HDOT will research and provide recommendations to the Legislature for viable approaches.
There are no plans to implement a road usage charge. At this time, the state is only collecting information. Please provide feedback by filling out the survey
That is an option in the near-term. Drivers are using less gas overall. This means a smaller number of drivers of older vehicles pay more, while drivers of newer and more fuel-efficient cars pay less and it’s not tied to their usage of the roads. If the state transitions to a road usage charge, it means all drivers would pay the same amount per mile, regardless of what they drive.
Questions about the Driving Report
Most households in Hawaii are getting a Driving Report. This is NOT a bill. It provides you with information about how you currently pay for roads and bridges through the gas tax for one of your vehicles. It also shows how that could change under a road usage charge where you pay for road upkeep based on miles driven instead of gas purchased. After reviewing your Driving Report, complete a short survey online to share your thoughts.
No. The Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (HDOT) was awarded federal dollars to research how it might work.
Most registered vehicle owners in Hawaii who have their vehicle inspected after October XX 2019, at least 8 months after the previous vehicle inspection, to allow for enough mileage data to calculate comparisons. Most households will receive only one Driving Report.
No. The Driving Report is for information only.
The fuel tax is a per-gallon tax on gasoline and diesel used in cars and trucks for driving on public roads. The state and counties use money from the tax to maintain and improve Hawaii’s roads. The state collects 16 cents for every gallon of fuel sold in Hawaii, which in 2018 added up to about $82 million. This money is dedicated to maintaining and improving the 2,500 lane-miles of state highways across the islands. The county tax rates on gasoline and diesel vary, and the monies are used to maintain and improve roads within each county. The rates are 16.5 cents per gallon on Oahu, 17 cents on Kauai, and 23 cents on Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Big Island.
Your vehicle information is collected as part of your vehicle inspection and registration.
Review the information and complete the survey here. Please enter the code on your Driving Report to access your survey.
The best way is to complete the survey. Go to here to take the survey and enter the code on your Driving Report to access the survey. The survey is short and includes an opportunity to share your open-ended thoughts.
This is a one-time research project, so once.
Driving Reports estimate the number of miles and the gallons of fuel each vehicle burns. The number of miles is calculated by the difference between the odometer readings at recent vehicle inspections. The number of gallons consumed is based on your particular vehicle’s estimated miles per gallon. The reverse side of your Driving Report contains the detailed calculation.
The per-mile rate for road usage charge shown on your Driving Report is based on the amount the average car currently pays in gasoline taxes per mile driven. Your Driving Report includes two components: the state gas tax and the county gas tax for the county where your vehicle is registered. The state gas tax is 16 cents per gallon, which works out to about 0.8 cents per mile for the average car. County gas taxes range from 16.5 cents per gallon to 28 cents per gallon, or 0.8 to 1.1 cents per mile.
No, Hawaii Department of Transportation does not monitor drivers.
What do I do if I have a question about my Driving Report (for example, my mileage is wrong, I do not own the vehicle on my report, or the information about my vehicle is incorrect)?
Please complete the survey. The survey is short and contains a section for you to describe any inaccuracies in your Driving Report. Call (808) 800-3527 if you are unable to complete the survey or would like to request a paper survey. Since your Driving Report is informational only, and you do not owe anything, it will not be re-issued. But, it’s important to share what issues you encountered, so describe any problems in the survey.
It will be distributed over the course of a year starting in late 2019. Not every household will get a Driving Report as part of this research. For example, if your two most recent vehicle inspections were less than 6 months apart, or if you have a new vehicle and have not yet gotten a second vehicle inspection, or if the odometer you reported at your most recent vehicle inspection appears inaccurate. You may still complete the survey here.
YES! To operate your vehicle legally, you must maintain a valid registration by paying the fees. You do not need to pay the road usage charge amount shown on your Driving Report. Please do not confuse this with your vehicle renewal notice, which you must still pay.
The state takes data security very seriously. The information about your vehicle is stored securely by the state. Information about your vehicle inspection is stored securely by the HDOT and its contractors.
All reports have the same information, with two exceptions. 1) Electric vehicles do not receive information about gas tax. 2) Fleets will receive a Driving Report with itemized information for each vehicle.
All Hawaii drivers are welcome to sign up to be a volunteer! HDOT is seeking up to 2,000 volunteers statewide, or about 500 per county. Volunteers will enroll in a trial of electronic mileage reporting, to learn more about motorist preferences. Drivers will choose from among three high-tech methods of reporting miles driven and receive monthly or quarterly driving reports showing their mileage totals and other information about their driving. No volunteers will owe any money, but HDOT will ask for participants to share their experiences by completing surveys before, during, and after the trial.