Frequently Asked Questions

Our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document provides additional details on:

  • The Eastern Transportation Coalition pilot

  • Background information on mileage-based user fees

  • How the rates are collected for the simulated monthly statements in our pilots

If you have additional questions that are not answered in the FAQ document, please contact us at [email protected].

The Eastern Transportation Coalition Mileage-Based User Fee (MBUF) Pilot

The Eastern Transportation Coalition, formerly known as the I-95 Corridor Coalition, is a partnership of State Departments of Transportation, and related authorities and organizations, working together to accelerate improvements in freight and passenger movement. This collaborative organization, founded in 1993, brings together over 100 transportation agencies representing multiple jurisdictions, modes, disciplines, and programs up and down the Eastern United States. The Coalition, through its diverse membership, provides agencies with the opportunity to leverage resources through multi-state/agency operations coordination, planning and data sharing. The Coalition strives to keep its members at the forefront of industry innovation through participation in transformative technology pilots/research, adoption of best practices sharing, and unique professional development opportunities. For more information visit tetcoalition.org.

A Mileage-Based User Fee (MBUF):

• Charges motorists for the number of miles traveled, not how much fuel is consumed

• Creates a link between how much you pay and how much you drive instead of basing it on your vehicle’s fuel efficiency

• Is currently being explored as a potential alternative to the fuel tax you pay at the pump

Americans pay for transportation infrastructure primarily with a tax on fuel each time they fill their tank. As vehicle fuel efficiency increases and more electric vehicles are on the road, drivers are purchasing less fuel and paying less fuel tax, but the cost to maintain our roads and bridges is increasing. A mileage-based user fee (MBUF) is being explored as a potential alternative to the fuel tax to create more sustainable funding for our transportation system. An MBUF would charge drivers for the miles they drive, instead of the amount of fuel they purchase, creating a direct connection between the amount you pay and the number of miles you drive. The Coalition is neutral on whether an MBUF is the ultimate solution to providing a long-term sustainable funding mechanism for the transportation network.

The Coalition has been a leader in bringing East Coast decision makers and drivers into the discussion of a mileage-based user fee (MBUF) system as a potential alternative to the fuel tax. The unique characteristics of the Eastern Seaboard – such as significant cross-state travel, numerous toll facilities, and several major truck corridors – make it a natural testing ground for the potential challenges of implementing an MBUF system nationally. The centerpiece of the Coalition’s MBUF pilot work involves gathering real-world experience and data through several phases of pilots, with each phase increasing in scope and complexity.

No decisions have been made about the future of mileage-based user fees (MBUF). The pilots along the East Coast, and in other states throughout the country, provide the opportunity to experience how mileage-based fees might work in real life. Results from this project will help national and state policymakers decide on next steps.

Mileage-Based User Fee (MBUF) - How Does it Work?

The mileage-based user fee (MBUF) calculation for the Coalition pilots is:

MBUF Charge (net difference) = (miles driven x MBUF rate per mile) – state fuel tax paid

The Coalition pilots assume that a mileage-based user fee (MBUF) would replace the state fuel tax. During the pilot, the simulated monthly statements show a credit for the estimated state fuel tax paid at the pump.

If you are a resident on the East Coast, click here to calculate how much you could pay with a MBUF system instead of the state fuel tax.

Mileage and fuel usage are based on vehicle data obtained via a plug-in device, which is inserted into the vehicle’s on-board diagnostics II (OBD-II) port. Devices that have GPS capabilities can differentiate the mileage by the state in which the vehicle was driven and provide premium features. Devices without GPS capabilities estimate mileage inside and outside your state of residence based on a ratio derived from census data for out-of-state work trips.

OBD stands for on-board diagnostics. All new vehicles sold in the U.S. from 1996 forward have on an OBD-II port except some fully electric vehicles, which do not have an OBD-II port. Some vehicles sold in 1994 and 1995 also have the port. The OBD-II port enables external devices to access data on mileage, emissions, speed and other subsystems that are stored in a vehicle’s computer. The port is typically found on the driver’s side of the vehicle either on or under the dash. While it’s most often used by mechanics to diagnose problems with a vehicle, there are a growing number of devices that drivers can install to monitor their vehicle’s performance. One potential capability of these new devices is the calculation of a mileage-based user fee. Vehicles without an OBD-II are ineligible to participate in the pilot.

Two primary mileage-reporting options are being used. Each pilot participant will select one of these two options:

Device with GPS – A device designed to plug in to a vehicle’s OBD-II port that automatically records mileage by state where the vehicles were driving (collected via GPS chip) and total fuel consumption. This information is used to calculate the estimated MBUF costs and fuel tax credits for each state within which the vehicle was driven.

Device without GPS – A device designed to plug in to a vehicle’s OBD-II port that has no GPS capabilities and automatically records total mileage and fuel consumption. This information is used to calculate the estimated MBUF costs and fuel tax credits. For devices without location-based capabilities, MBUF and fuel tax credits are based on where you live and an assumed percentage of out-of-state driving (obtained from US census data for work trips).

If you are a resident on the East Coast, click here to calculate how much you could pay with a mileage-based user fee (MBUF) system instead of the state fuel tax.

Please note that no money is exchanged during the Coalition pilots, all “payments” are simulated.

The charts below show what individual drivers might pay under the current fuel tax system versus what they might pay under an MBUF system. The first chart shows the relationship between vehicle fuel economy and fuel taxes paid versus the second chart, which demonstrations that under an MBUF system, drivers pay an equal amount for every mile they drive regardless of the type of fuel used and the fuel efficiency of their vehicle. These data are based on state fuel tax rates and MBUF rates for New Jersey.

 

 

Yes. Diesel fueled vehicles with an OBD-II port are able to participate in the pilot. However, participants with diesel-powered vehicles will receive an MBUF statement with the credit for the estimated state gas tax paid calculated using current gas tax rates instead of estimated state diesel tax rates (in some states these two rates are different). This means your fuel tax credit on your monthly statement will not be accurately represented if you drive a diesel vehicle unless you drive in Coalition states where gas and diesel taxes are the same). Adding diesel tax rates and calculations will be addressed in future phases. Even with this discrepancy, diesel vehicle owners are encouraged to participate to gain real world experience with MBUF, explore some of the premium features available with participation, and provide feedback on this potential new transportation funding approach.

Yes, if the electric vehicle has an OBD-II port. Electric vehicles will need to use a device with GPS, because the port in electric vehicles does not provide the necessary data for calculating miles. The device’s GPS location-based capability is needed to measure mileage in electric vehicles.

Pilots across the country continue to evaluate the potential impacts on rural drivers and urban drivers under an MBUF funding structure. The Coalition is examining the urban-rural issue in the context of East Coast states in terms of average number of miles driven each year and the average vehicle efficiency for urban and rural drivers. This analysis is also examining the potential financial impact on urban and rural drivers for a number of different per-mile rate structures.

With smart watches and phones, ride hailing apps, and on-demand services, we are connected and have access to data more than ever before. Vehicles are no different. Information is sitting within our vehicle but remains out of reach for most drivers. Premium Features have been developed to break down the barrier between this vehicle data and the driver. Tools such as a battery life monitor, check engine message decoder, trip logs, vehicle safe zones, and an overview of your carbon footprint (value of pounds of CO2 per trip) are available as premium features through our account manager for The Eastern Transportation Coalition MBUF Pilot. Participants in The Eastern Transportation Coalition MBUF Pilot will have the option to opt-in to these premium features if they choose. The following table describes the Premium Features offered with each device.

All personally identifiable information that is collected to set up and manage participants mileage account, including mileage and other data collected during the pilot, will be destroyed within 30 days of the completion of The Eastern Transportation Coalition MBUF Pilot. Non-personal information (i.e. total mileage, vehicle make and model, etc.) may be retained indefinitely and used for other MBUF research purposes. All data will be anonymized, securely stored, and only individuals involved in the research study will have access to the data. All individuals that will have access to personally identifiable information as part of this study will sign a non-disclosure agreement to ensure that they do not disclose personally identifiable information.

The Coalition is taking special precautions to ensure no information about your vehicle use, including vehicle location, specific routes driven, driving behaviors, or other vehicle information, is released to anyone outside of the Account Manager over the course of the pilot (including the Coalition and departments of transportation). The Coalition has partnered with Azuga, a well-established industry leading account manager, who is currently certified to provide MBUF account management services in Oregon. All personally identifiable information collected by Azuga will be destroyed within 30 days of the completion of The Eastern Transportation Coalition MBUF Pilot.

Every month, Azuga sends the Coalition aggregated vehicle mileage reports. The only participant-specific information included in the reports to the Coalition is each participating vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) provided when a participant enrolls with Azuga. No personally identifiable information is included in the monthly reports.

These reports will only contain the following information:

• Total miles traveled by each vehicle (identified by the VIN) for the month

• Total miles traveled within each of the Coalition states (for vehicles using a device with GPS) for the month.

• The amount of simulated MBUF less estimated fuel taxes paid for the month

• Equipment errors or malfunctions for the month

Participants in the pilot receive simulated monthly statements that provide details on miles driven, fuel used, mileage-based user fee charges compared to estimated fuel tax, and daily trip logs. The monthly statements help participants gain a better understanding of how transportation is funded, how many miles they drive, where they drive (device with GPS only), what they are currently paying in fuel tax, and how a mileage-based user fee could affect individual households.

MBUF Statement & Rates

The table below displays the fuel tax rate (both gasoline and diesel) for each of the Coalition states. In addition, there is a federal tax of 18.4¢ per gallon on gas and 24.2¢ per gallon on diesel. The gas and diesel tax values shown in the table are based on information provided by the American Petroleum Institute (API), effective January 1, 2020.The 2020 Pilot is studying MBUF as a replacement to the state fuel tax.

The per mile rates and gas tax credits used for calculating the MBUF for The Eastern Transportation Coalition 2020 MBUF Pilot are based on the concept of “revenue neutral” – that is, a vehicle getting the national average of 23 MPG would pay an MBUF that is equal to the amount paid for the state gas tax.

The per-mile rates and gas tax rates for the device with GPS, are listed in the table below for each of the Coalition states. The gas tax values shown in the table above are based on information provided by the American Petroleum Institute (API), effective January 1, 2020. The rate calculation is:

Per Mile Rate = State Fuel Tax / National Fuel Economy Average of 23 MPG

For participants using a device without GPS there is no way to determine the state(s) where the vehicle was driven. For this pilot, a specified percentage of mileage and fuel tax payments were assumed to have occurred in the state where the vehicle is registered. These percentages were derived from census information regarding the percent of residents in each state that work in another state (see assumptions in the table below). The remaining percentage of the vehicle’s mileage is assumed to have occurred outside of the state of registration, with an average per-mile fee and average fuel tax for all out-of-state mileage based on the per-mile rates and state fuel taxes in adjacent Coalition states.

The per-mile rates and gas tax rates for the device without GPS, are listed in the table below for each of the Coalition states. The per-mile rates and state gas taxes in the table are “blended” rates that assume the percentage of out-of-state travel by the residents of each state (shown in the table above). In the event the blended rates were less than the rates for the state of vehicle registration (shown in the device with GPS table above), the rates for the state of vehicle registration were used.

The rates being explored in this pilot are solely for research purposes. Ultimately, each state would determine the per-mile rates, which could vary by vehicle type, location or other considerations. Each state would also determine any changes to the per-mile rates.

For all gasoline vehicles, the MBUF device (either with or without GPS) calculates the state fuel tax credit using the gasoline usage data obtained via the OBD-II port and each state’s per gallon gasoline tax. . For vehicles where fuel usage data cannot be obtained from the OBD-II port (i.e. diesel vehicles), the fuel is estimated based on the miles driven and the average MPG rating for the vehicle make, model, year and engine type, as identified by the EPA. This information is available at www.fueleconomy.gov and clicking on the “Find a Car” tab.

Using a device with GPS results in your mileage being differentiated by the Coalition state where the mileage was accrued, and the MBUF rate and gas tax credit based on the mileage driven in each state. The tables below provide some examples as to how this works.

Using a device without GPS means that where your mileage occurred is unknown. Accordingly, all mileage driven is assumed to have occurred in your state of vehicle registration with the blended per-mile rates and gas tax values for that state applied to all mileage. The tables below provide some examples as to how this works.