A mileage-based user fee, or MBUF, is a pay-for-what-you use approach to transportation funding. It is an alternative option to the fuel tax, which is the pay-at-the-pump tax we currently use to fund roads and bridges.
The fuel tax was first introduced by a state in 1919 and nationally in 1932. The premise was simple: the more you drove, the more fuel you purchased, and the more you contributed to roads and bridges.
A lot has changed since 1932. Vehicles can go farther on less fuel and some vehicles, like electric vehicles, don’t purchase fuel at all. Though this is great for our wallets and the environment, it presents a challenge. As vehicles become more fuel efficient, they contribute less revenue to building and maintaining roads, yet still contribute to road wear and tear.
Our work, as well as other pilots and programs across the country, has shown that a mileage-based user fee can be a viable replacement for the fuel tax – and a return to the user-based funding envisioned when the fuel tax first hit the road more than 100 years ago.