What Else Can the RUC Ecosystem Be Used For?

November 30, 2021

RUC is likely to become the future of our nation’s infrastructure funding in the next several years. Some states, like Oregon and Utah, have already implemented it, and many other states are working toward implementation. Our nation’s infrastructure is in a state of severe disrepair. In fact, 49% of our roads are in a state of disrepair unsafe for travel. Politicians across the spectrum do not agree on much, but they all agree that infrastructure is a serious issue that we must address as soon as possible, as our roads are aging further every year. RUC is a proposed solution that would solve this problem for the long term. What’s more, the RUC ecosystem has several other uses that could benefit our modern society. This article will discuss what RUC means and how it can improve infrastructure and otherwise help in various ways. 

How Does RUC Work? 

First, if you are unfamiliar with RUC, you are likely wondering what RUC stands for. RUC stands for road usage charging, and it is the process of charging drivers based on how many miles they drive. This system replaces the current gas tax, which charges drivers based on how much fuel they consume. There are two significant issues with the gas tax system. Firstly, the gas tax has not kept up with inflation in a quarter of a century. This means that it is worth 40% less than 25 years ago. With this in mind, it makes sense why the Highway Trust Fund is struggling so much. 

The second issue is the increase in electric and fuel-efficient vehicles over the past couple of decades. These vehicles inflict wear and tear on the roads, but they do not pay the same towards the gas tax because they use minimal fuel, if any at all. This is not fair to all drivers and means even less money goes towards the Highway Trust Fund. 

Road usage charging solves these problems by charging drivers for how much they drive instead of how much gas they use. This way, all drivers are assessed fairly, and the price does not have to increase because more drivers will be paying into the system. By implementing road usage charging nationwide, we would bring in an additional $340 billion to improve our nation’s infrastructure. Right now, our leaders must allocate hundreds of billions of dollars a year in tax dollars trying to keep up with infrastructure initiatives. If we implemented road usage charging, we could stay on top of our maintenance needs without taking money from other funds. 

How is RUC Implemented?

As mentioned, the only states that have implemented road usage charging so far are Oregon and Utah. They have both partnered with technology vendors to create solutions that make tracking miles and collecting funds easy. For example, for Oregon’s program, OReGO, the state uses Azuga Insight. The hardware for Azuga Insight is so easy to install that the driver can do it themselves, and it takes only seconds. All they have to do is plug a device into their OBD port, which is standard in most vehicles built after 1996. The device automatically tracks their miles without any effort from the driver or any administrative support. 

Then, the driver sets up a digital wallet with a payment method such as a credit card. As they drive, Azuga Insight automatically deducts funds based on how many miles they drive. Again, no administrative support is needed for this process; it’s simple and cost-effective to implement. 

The OReGO program is optional, but drivers are incentivized to join with lower registration fees. When they buy a new vehicle, they can sign up for road usage charging right then and there by signing up with Azuga online. It’s easy to get people on board, and OReGO has found much success. 

How Can the RUC Ecosystem Be Utilized?

The road usage charging ecosystem is not only useful for replacing the gas tax. There are several different ways that funds can be collected using this system. The road usage charge ecosystem can support a lot of the procedures we already have in place. We will go over some of the ways the technology can help improve our cities below. 

  • Tolling: Right now, tolling is initially expensive to implement. Booths are often staffed, roadside infrastructure must be installed, and all of it must be maintained and repaired regularly. By tracking miles and location, technologies like Azuga Insight can automatically deduct tolls from a driver’s digital wallet when they drive through a toll area. Tolling is another way to collect funds for the Highway Trust Fund, so it makes sense to use the same system we use for RUC. 
  • Layered Area Pricing: In layered area pricing, a geofence (virtual perimeter) is drawn around two overlapping areas with variable pricing. This allows the state to collect the funds they need in certain areas as needed. 
  • Corridor Pricing: Corridor pricing involves pricing specific major roadways when a vehicle drives a predetermined distance upon it. This helps fund heavily used roads as well as encourage drivers to choose different routes, thereby decreasing traffic congestion on typically clogged roadways.
  • Congestion Pricing: When roads are congested, states can charge more for use of the roads since drivers are inflicting more wear and tear on them. This can also improve traffic by discouraging driving at busy times. 
  • Transportation Research: Technologies like Azuga insight can track location as well as miles driven. If drivers consent, this data can be used for transportation research that can help improve our nation’s transportation system. 

Stay Up to Date on RUC with Azuga

Azuga is a leader in our nation’s quest to implement road usage charging and improve our infrastructure. We created Azuga Insight to ensure that the program is not only friendly to the end user but also cost-effective and easy to implement. We regularly update our blog with the latest news about road usage charging. To keep up to date, be sure to follow our blog and @AzugaInsight on Twitter.

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