Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) today identified the modernization of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) vehicle fleet as an opportunity to test a Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) user fee on a national scale. Because the USPS fleet modernization effort will include the electrification of many of its vehicles and reduce gas consumption, it will also reduce the amount of revenues generated for fixing the Nation’s roads and bridges. This continued shift toward electrification further underscores the need to eliminate the gas tax and diesel tax for all drivers in the United States and replace those taxes with a VMT user fee.
“It’s become abundantly clear that we need to move on from the gas tax and diesel tax as the primary means of building infrastructure. For years, I have been talking about the need to eliminate the gas and diesel taxes completely and transition to a VMT system so we get the long-term sustainable funding for transformative investments in infrastructure in a fiscally responsible way.
“Although critics will say that we’re not ready for VMT, we’ve heard that same argument for too long. The Highway Trust Fund continues to lose more and more revenue because not all users are paying their fair share given increased fuel efficiency and electric vehicle technology. But the fact is, we’re ready to move forward. We’ve seen enormous progress at the state and regional level, where multiple pilot programs for VMT systems and alternative revenue collection programs have demonstrated success.
“The final step necessary to begin a full conversion to a VMT system is to test it in an interoperable, national setting. The USPS operates a large, nationwide fleet of vehicles that covers the spectrum from our most densely populated cities to every corner of rural America. We need a national testbed for VMT, and this could provide an ideal opportunity to test a much-needed replacement for the obsolete gas tax that we rely on to build our roads and bridges.
“It’s time to move this solution toward reality, but in doing so, we must ensure that privacy concerns are addressed, and that we do not layer one user fee on top of another. I believe the gas tax, diesel tax, and other related fees that currently go into the Highway Trust Fund should be completely replaced by a VMT user fee.
“As a conservative, I strongly believe in the user-pays principle, and I believe that we need to start ensuring that all users pay their fair share for the roads they’re using.”
The gas tax and diesel tax are the primary user fees that support the Highway Trust Fund – the federal fund dedicated to maintaining and improving roads and bridges. Gas and diesel taxes go directly into the Trust Fund and cannot be used for any other type of federal spending. However, various factors – including the growing use of electric and hybrid vehicles – are contributing to insufficient revenues going into the Trust Fund, and a new user fee system is necessary to help secure the long-term stability of the Trust Fund and the Nation’s ability to address its critical infrastructure needs.
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