Preparing for the future and the need for a resilient environment and infrastructure, the State of Hawaii, along with other states in the nation, are looking for equitable ways to pay for the safety, upkeep and improvement of roads. Currently, the gas tax pays for that. That is no longer a reliable source as automakers continue to make more fuel-efficient cars and trucks and pivot to making more environmentally friendly electric, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles.
One promising way to fund roads that states, including Hawaii, are looking at is a road usage charge, which is based on paying for the miles you drive. Starting in 2018 through a federal grant, Hawaii’s Department of Transportation started a community outreach and demonstration project, called Hawaii Road Usage Charge (HiRUC), to see if this method might work in Hawaii.
The goal was to gather community input through focus groups, telephone surveys and a series of community and stakeholder meetings held throughout the Hawaii islands. In the next phase, the community provided their feedback about a customized driving report that was sent to over 300,000 Hawaii drivers. In the last phase, 1,896 volunteers participated in a pilot project where they chose one of three different technologies to report the miles they drove and provided feedback on their experience. They received regular reports comparing what they pay in gas taxes and what they would pay with a per mile usage.
If you are interested in seeing the difference in costs for you, check out our online estimater tool.
Participant input is the key to evaluating the feasibility of a road usage charge to replace declining gas taxes. The results of the surveys, feedback on drivers reports and mileage measurement tools, as well as what has been learned from community and stakeholder meetings and focus groups will all be incorporated in a final report to the Department of Transportation and Hawaii State Legislature.
HiRUC is a 36-month demonstration project.
START. Project Inception, 2018
HDOT was awarded $4 million from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to conduct a public demonstration of a road usage charge system. This three-year project will allow Hawaii drivers to experience what a RUC system will be like. The demonstration will help HDOT understand how people feel about RUC and what their concerns are. Public participation and feedback will help guide development of future funding options.
Driving Report, 2019 – 2020
VEHICLE OWNERS RECEIVE DRIVING REPORT.
Customized simulated invoice distributed by mail. Invoice will estimate how much each vehicle owner might have paid in RUC compared to gas taxes.
Recruit Volunteers, 2020
The HiRUC research team will be conducting surveys of drivers and inviting their direct feedback on potential tools for the system. Feedback will help HDOT and policymakers better understand what drivers would prefer in a RUC system. Approximately 2,000 volunteers, statewide, will be recruited to test various technologies and reporting methods.
Technology Test Drive, 2021
A second part of the demonstration project features volunteers testing new ways to report mileage including submitting an odometer photo via smartphone app, or using in-vehicle technology, such as mileage-meters.
PROJECT COMPLETION. Evaluate/Analyze, 2021
• Summarize driver’s experience and stakeholder’s feed back.
• Recommend possible ways to do RUC in Hawaii.
• Report to Legislature.