This summer California will test the country's second pilot program to explore road charging as a potential long-term replacement for the gas tax. Oregon launched the first pilot project in 2015 with OReGO. Road charging requires drivers pay to help maintain the roads based on the distance they travel or a period of time they use the roads rather than the amount of gasoline they consume.
On September 29, 2014 Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 1077, which requires the state of California to design and implement a statewide pilot program to study the implications of a road charge model no later than January 1, 2017.
The nine-month road charge pilot will be launched in the summer of 2016. At that time, 5,000 Californians will be part of the effort to test road charging as volunteers. At the conclusion of the pilot an independent third party will evaluate the pilot results, and the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) will submit a report to the Legislature, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) and the TAC by July 2017. The pilot’s parameters were developed through the recommendations of a 15-member Technical Advisory Committee.
The free pilot will give participants a variety of manual and technological choices for reporting the miles they travel, as well as a choice for submitting simulated payments.
Four firms have been selected to provide account management services to volunteers in the California Road Charge Pilot.
Drivers of passenger vehicles who participate in the pilot will be able to select between Azuga and Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. (“IMS”) to manage their road charge mileage account, or they may choose a state-run account management service, which will be supported by Arvato Mobility Solutions. Accounts for heavy vehicles will be serviced by EROAD, Inc.
These firms will offer the full range of mileage reporting options recommended by the California Transportation Commission’s Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee. These options range from low-tech options like manual odometer readings to fully automated reporting based on vehicle telematics.
Azuga, IMS and EROAD may also provide value added services such as vehicle health reports or driver-safety feedback at no cost to participants for the duration of the pilot. Pilot participants will be able to view detailed information about their account management choices starting in May and choose an account manager starting in June.
Supporting the account managers are Vehcon, Inc. and Driveway, Inc., which both provide smartphone solutions.
After the conclusion of the pilot program and the results report, CTC will include recommendations regarding the pilot program to the Legislature in its December 2017 Annual Report. The Legislature will make the final decision on whether and how to enact a full-scale permanent road charge program.