October 14, 2015 5:27 PM, EDT

California Pay-By-Mile Program Will Include Trucks

California officials said they still are seeking volunteers, including truckers, to participate in a pay-by-mile test program scheduled to begin in July.

“Trucks put so many miles on our roads that we thought it was important for them to be included in our pilot program,” said Carrie Pourvahidi, manager for the Road Charge Program, which is being jointly administered by the California State Transportation Agency and the California Transportation Commission.

California’s Legislature created the Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee in 2014 because the state’s fuel tax — consisting of a basic 18-cent charge and an excise levy that is 12 cents now but varies annually — wasn’t generating enough revenue to maintain its 50,000 miles of roads. With the uncertainty surrounding federal funding, many states, including California, are considering new ways to generate additional revenue.

The pay-by-mile program will incorporate input from the California Trucking Association. The program is similar to an experiment taking place in Oregon, but that one does not include trucks.

The California group was scheduled to release a draft report on its plan after this edition of Transport Topics went to press. A full report is due at the end of the year, and the program’s findings must be reported to the Legislature by July 2017.

Eric Sauer, vice president of policy and government relations for CTA, is among 15 committee members who are developing the pilot’s parameters.

“CTA wanted to make sure that we had a seat at the table,” said Sauer, who noted that a minimum of 50 trucks will participate. The program will be geographically balanced among California’s metropolitan and rural areas.

California is seeking 5,000 volunteers willing to have their miles driven recorded for various time periods from July until the program ends nine months later. Information on how to volunteer can be found here.

“Our hope is that the program will give us the information to determine whether a road charge is a viable revenue source,” Pourvahidi said.