The Eastern Transportation Coalition is researching how a mileage-based user fee (MBUF) would affect the trucking industry. New York State is the third most expensive state in the nation in terms of operating a truck. One of the reasons for this is that New York is one of only four states and the only one in the northeast that still has a Highway Use Tax (HUT). As such, the Coalition conducted the nation’s first multi-state pilot to get truck drivers’ perspective on MBUF.
A major finding is that trucks cannot simply be treated as big cars in an MBUF system. They are used, regulated, and accrue miles differently from cars. On average commercial vehicles drive more than four times as many miles per year as passenger vehicles do. More to the point, trucks pay substantially more in federal fuel taxes as well as several additional federal taxes deigned to support the transportation network (heavy vehicle use tax, federal excise taxes, weight-mileage tax, and higher tolls). Too often the taxes and fees that trucking companies must pay are viewed on an individual base when they should be lumped together
The trucking industry is also a highly regulated industry. Aspects such as driver training, work hours, emissions requirements, vehicle equipment, and tax reporting. The more that can be streamlined the better. International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and International Registration Plan (IRP) are templates for this.
The Coalition’s pilot showed that one rate for all trucks does not work due to the differences in vehicle operations, types, ages, performance, and mileage traveled. The initial rates for the pilot were calculated based on each state’s diesel fuel tax and an assumed average truck fuel efficiency of 6 MPG. Interestingly enough, this meant fuel-inefficient fleets would be rewarded with rebates and fuel-efficient fleets would be penalized. To set rates in a fair and transparent way, factors such as the age of the truck, vehicle class, weight, and fuel efficiency must be considered.
Any fleets interested in joining the next pilot should go here.