Authors: Alexandre Bayen, PhD; Susan Shaheen, PhD; Teddy Forscher; and Jessica Lazarus
Date: February 2019
Abstract: A brief overview of transportation user fees (historically and in a contemporary context) is presented followed by a discussion on how segmenting travel into three categories – long haul, the last mile, and at the curb – creates a new typology for transportation pricing and access mechanisms. A case study based upon California’s recent Road Charge Pilot Program demonstrates a quantitative example for a blended long haul/last mile approach using a parametric mileage-based user fee (MBUF); the case investigates distributional cost burdens under different pricing calibration scenarios. There are many ways to raise the same amount of money with a parametric structure, but compared to a gas tax and flat mileage-based fee, a parametric structure may produce a better distribution of cost burdens. Technical, political, legal, and other considerations for implementing an MBUF are discussed, drawn from a literature review of current efforts; often these aspects can direct the development of a pricing mechanism as much if not more than empirically derived goals. The conclusion discusses how this approach can aid in the development of pricing mechanisms that move closer to the user-pays principle.