MBUFs/VMT fees not favored on Capitol Hill
By Peter Samuel
Mileage based user fees (MBUFs) have little support in the US Congress. MAP21 the recent two year authorization bill provided for some research money for MBUFs also known as vehicle miles traveled charges or taxes. MBUFs are a kind universal toll and are the favorite new funding device of most transport funding commissions and studies by policy wonks in thinktanks.
Gas taxes are in decline as a revenue source due to near stagnant miles traveled and improving fuel economy.
The Congressional leadership gives lipservice to MFUFs as seen in the original MAP21 bill, but as part of the conference negotiations to get the bigger bill passed $s-for-MBUF research was dropped. It is not in MAP21 as passed by the Congress June 29 and signed into law by President Obama.
There was a second blow to MBUFs in the House Appropriations Committee where an amendment passed on a voice vote - no one opposed it - prohibiting any funds for USDOT "to research or implement a user fee based on Vehicle Miles Traveled."
The amendment was moved by Representative Cravaack (Republican, Minnesota.)
The Senate could excise the item, but prospects for MBUF research at the federal level seem slim.