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MINNESOTA: Mileage-Based User Fee Regional Outreach Statewide

This project is an effort to provide important input and enhance the national projects examining replacement for the motor fuel tax. What is lacking in these other national studies is an effort is to understand public attitudes and to increase public awareness about the motor fuel tax challenge. With that in mind, we propose to do an assessment of public understanding of mileage-based road user charges through market research, outreach and education. Subsequently, this project will provide direct input into ongoing work looking at the motor fuel tax replacement and how the need for a new or replacement tax might be communicated.

A baseline survey of experts regarding public understanding of existing transportation funding systems and issues will be conducted. Subsequently, through focus groups and general surveys we will "drill down" into the public attitudes as to the root causes of attitudes, regional differences, and provide insight into ways in which solutions might be framed. These messages will then be tested to develop a communications strategy that could be employed to market mileage-based fees and messages.

Study Completed

The Mn/DOT received VPPP funding in September 2006 to conduct statewide outreach on application of MBUF in Minnesota. Subsequently, in May 2011, MnDOT began conducting technical research on using MBUF as an alternative to the fuel tax. This project developed into a statewide effort to investigate public understanding and opinions of mileage-based charges via interviews, focus groups, and qualitative surveys. An MBUF Policy Task Force was developed to evaluate issues related to a potential MBUF system. The Policy Task Force issued its Final Report in December 2011, in which they recommended that the MBUF approach could be a potential supplement or alternative funding method to the fuel tax, but a full-scale implementation should not proceed due to unfamiliarity with the MBUF among the public and policymakers and the technological and operational complexities of a potential MBUF system. However, the Task Force did recommend that exploration of an MBUF for Minnesota continue to advance. Accordingly, MnDOT conducted a technical demonstration with 500 participants to test the effectiveness of using smart phone technology to collect MBUFs. This research was completed in 2012, and the Final Report was published in February 2013. Some of the key findings from the research include that participants were accepting of modest monthly MBUF invoices, privacy was not a major concern to participants, and drivers value simplicity in the design of any alternative transportation funding program. The demonstration also provided insight into the types of planning, management, and customer interactions that would be required of a full-scale MBUF program.

For More Information Contact

Kenneth R. Buckeye
Program Manager Value Pricing
Phone: (651) 366-3737

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