Congressional Chairmen Ask U.S. DOT for Status of VMT Advisory Board

Recently, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Tom Carper (D-DE) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-MO) sent a letter to U.S. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg asking for an update on establishing an advisory board, as required by the bipartisan infrastructure law, to study an alternative means for securing sustainable funding for the Highway Trust Fund.  The board will inform and provide structure for a new, national pilot program to test mileage-based user fees as a replacement for the current gas tax.

The bipartisan infrastructure law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), tasked U.S. DOT with setting up the Federal System Funding Alternative Advisory Board no later than 90 days after enactment.  The IIJA was enacted into law on November 15, 2021.  The advisory board has not yet been formed.

The previous surface transportation law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, provided grants for states to test road usage charges as an alternative to the gas tax.  Those pilot programs showed significant promise that using road usage fees could be an alternative source of revenue to sustainably fund transportation programs in the future.  The IIJA provides funding for a national pilot program, but this pilot is dependent upon the recommendations of the advisory board.

“The National pilot program will enable Congress to determine the feasibility of road usage charges as a viable funding source and, if they are, to consider these charges during the debate of the next Surface Transportation Authorization bill.  We remain concerned that the delay in launching the Advisory Board and the subsequent National pilot program risks preventing the timely development of the data needed for Congress to make an informed decision during that future funding debate,” the letter from Senator Carper and Representative Graves states.

Read the full letter here.