Why the state is asking citizens how to fund transportation

On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation about the road usage charge (RUC) survey conducted to gauge citizen’s thoughts on funding transportation infrastructure.

Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/14427300-why-the-state-is-asking-citizens-how-to-fund-transportation


Jean Ruestman, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Office of Passenger Transportation, explains how the department sought and won a federal grant to fund the survey and why the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is incentivizing states to gather the information.

Jean Ruestman

Some key takeaways:

  • The survey is a research project and not about setting policy regarding the implementation of an RUC.
  • This statewide survey is the first step in exploring how RUC, if implemented, might affect people’s modal choices (taking transit, selecting alternative less congested routes, traveling at different times of the day) and in exploring new ways to sustainably and fairly fund and maintain public transit systems, roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure in Michigan.
  • One possible funding tool is RUC, or paying based on vehicle miles traveled, which means drivers would pay a few cents for each mile driven versus paying based on how much gas they buy.
  • The Legislature adopted legislation in 2022 requiring MDOT to study tolling as an additional or alternative funding method. The Legislature later requested that the department examine RUC.
  • Gov. Whitmer’s Growing Michigan Together Council recommended lawmakers examine alternative funding sources for Michigan’s transportation infrastructure.
  • No policy changes like this are being debated by the Legislature at this time.
  • Many other states are exploring RUC, with some already having implemented similar systems (Utah, Oregon, Virginia, and Hawaii).

Listen now at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205.

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