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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Civil Engineering

Year Degree Awarded

Summer 2014

First Advisor

John Collura, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Eleni Christofa, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Wayne Burleson, Ph.D.

Subject Categories

Civil Engineering | Other Civil and Environmental Engineering

Abstract

Since the fuel tax is a dwindling source of revenue, states need to find alternative funding sources. A vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fee has received serious consideration from a number of states and the federal government. What is missing from the VMT fee consideration is a framework for developing VMT fee systems and an analytical approach with which to study how well a proposed system conforms to the policies promulgated in the framework. This research strives to fill that void. The framework developed presents five areas of importance in VMT fee systems: 1. Revenue sufficiency; 2. Revenue stability; 3. Environmental Justice; 4. Low implementation cost; and 5. Security and privacy preservation. The analytical approach consists of two methods: 1. Use of NPV in order to evaluate the cost/benefit position of a proposed VMT fee system with respect to monetary and non-monetary but monetizable aspects; and 2. Use of an Index to evaluate all other aspects. To demonstrate the application of the framework and analytical approach, four VMT system designs were formulated, analyzed, and then compared to each other and to the fuel tax. The four VMT fee system designs are: 1. Alternative A where the total annual VMT is determined at the state inspection and charged for those miles; 2. Alternative B where the out-of-state VMT is deducted from the total annual VMT as determined at the annual state inspection and the fee charged for in-state VMT only; 3. Alternative C where a fee matrix is applied to GPS reported trip data so that fees may vary based on time and locale; and 4. Alternative D where there is a strategic implementation of Alternatives A, B, and C in that order and with two years separating the implementations. If added revenue is the main goal, then Alternative A is the best choice by being the lowest cost. If added revenue and the provision of a better strategy for alleviating such conditions as congestion, noise or air pollution or charging for higher quality roadways, then Alternatives C or D is the best fit. Alternative B performs best as a stepping-stone in Alternative D. All alternatives have better revenue sufficiency and stability than the fuel tax. The fuel tax exceeds all alternatives with respect to security and privacy preservation since no data, personal or otherwise, is recorded. Since security and privacy preservation are considered the weakest aspects of most VMT fee collection systems, added attention must be applied to incorporating design elements that cover aspects where breaches are possible such as in any data transmission, any computational and database processing, and billing/payment functions. The next step beyond this work is to study the construction of the fee matrix and exercise its use either in simulation or with actual data as collected by a state’s department of transportation.

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