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California moves toward July start of its Road Charge Pilot Program

March 15, 2016

Traffic Technology Today

Original News item appeared at: http://www.traffictechnologytoday.com/

California is pressing ahead with its Road Usage Charge (RUC) pilot program, which is designed as an alternative to the state’s current gas tax that provides funding for road maintenance and other transportation projects.

The state’s income from the fuel tax has shrunk dramatically, partially as a result of its policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, such as support for the adoption of electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars and other ‘green’ modes of transport, and the increasing fuel economy of modern vehicles.

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed 2016-17 budget shows that the revenue from the gas tax has dropped from US$5.3bn in the 2014 Fiscal Year, to US$4.5bn in FY 2015. Revenue is projected to drop to US$4.2bn in FY 2016 – a 21% drop from 2014. California is one of several states that are preparing RUC pilot programs, and one is already underway in Oregon.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has now announced that four companies have been selected to provide account management services to volunteers in the California Road Charge Pilot, which is scheduled to launch in July with 5,000 volunteers and run through to the spring of 2017.

Drivers of passenger vehicles that participate in the pilot will be able to select between Azuga and Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. (IMS) to manage their road charge mileage account, or they may choose a state-run account management service, which will be supported by Arvato Mobility Solutions. Accounts for heavy vehicles will be serviced by EROAD Inc. Azuga is currently also providing its services to volunteers participating in the Oregon pilot program.

The four companies will offer the full range of mileage reporting options recommended by the California Transportation Commission’s Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee. These options range from low-tech solutions, such as manual odometer readings, to fully automated reporting based on in-vehicle telematics systems, using an onboard unit (OBU) connected to the car’s OBD-II diagnostics port. Azuga, IMS and EROAD may also provide value added services, such as vehicle health reports or driver-safety feedback, at no cost to participants for the duration of the pilot.

Pilot participants will be able to view detailed information about their account management choices starting in May, and choose an account manager starting in June. Supporting the account managers are Vehcon Inc. and Driveway Inc., which both provide smartphone systems.