The Highway Trust Fund is staring down an insolvency crisis due to diminishing gas tax revenues. Central to this development are increasing fuel efficiency standards of gas powered vehicles and the roll-out of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), which are not subject to the gas tax in most states. However, there are more cars on the roads now than ever, and many of them are powered by alternative fuels like natural gas, propane, and electricity. Are drivers of those vehicles paying their fair share for maintaining roads and bridges? Some states have enacted flat registration and licensing fees to address these issues.

In October of 2013, eight state governors signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU),  committing to coordinated efforts to  ensure the successful implementation of each state's Zero Emission Vehicle programs. This ZEV Action Plan is made up of 11 key steps to achieving widespread deployment of electric vehicles. It includes aggressive promotion of electric vehicles and of electric vehicle-friendly policies as a means of cleaning up transportation and stimulating job growth. 

The Senate Finance Committee Thursday began consideration of a proposal to keep the Highway Trust Fund temporarily afloat but left town for the 4th of July holiday break without voting on the measure as chairman Ron Wyden sought to gain support of Senate Republicans. I also have my usual weekly roundup of news items and links on MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the HTF, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

The federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money even earlier than expected this summer, according to new data released this week. That’s likely to make it even tougher for Congress to come up with a funding solution in time and it has many in Washington and around the country concerned about what would be an unprecedented situation for state transportation programs. I also have the usual collection of links to items on state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

Leaders in Washington State say a transportation funding package is dead for this legislative session, putting in jeopardy a number of mega-projects many say the state needs. I also have items this week on the nation’s road spending priorities and a reported uptick in transit ridership. Plus the usual updates on MAP-21 reauthorization, state transportation funding efforts, public-private partnerships, and state multi-modal strategies.

October 2013 ~ Stateline Midwest

Three months after an effort to block the sale of E15 stalled in the U.S. Supreme Court, the fuel blend began being offered in another Midwestern state. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced in September the availability of E15 (a mix of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) at...

With the government shutdown continuing into a second week, there may be a whole lot less bureaucracy in Washington these days. But that actually may be throwing up some roadblocks for the completion of transportation projects around the country. I also have links to some recent reports on performance measurement, transportation funding and why some public-private partnerships fail.

As growth of the US electric car industry hastens the network of publicly available chargers necessary to power these vehicles faces pressure to grow as well. One possible force slowing the effort to create a ubiquitous charging network is the intersection of public electric vehicle charging stations and state electric utility regulation. The primer examines state-level regulatory choices: the choice to regulate chargers as electric utilities and the choice to permit utility ownership of chargers. Both policies could have important implications for the viability of a charging market. 

Virginia’s transportation bill that went into effect on July 1, it included a new $64 fee for registering “hybrid electric motor vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and electric motor vehicles.”. A number of other states have at least considered following suit. North Carolina’s Senate passed a measure that would tax electric vehicle (EV) owners and hybrid vehicle owners $100 and $50 respectively. The measure has yet to make it through the House. Kansas considered taxing plug in EVs as they charge, a measure that would be analogous to the way the gas tax is collected. Arizona lawmakers considered a 1.43 cent per mile tax on EVs. But such actions and proposed actions are not simply about states seeking new revenues to pay for transportation. States are also trying to even the playing field for all those who drive on America’s roads and perhaps to breathe some life back into the concept of a user fee to help maintain them. In doing so though, states must try to balance policies elsewhere that seek to encourage the proliferation of such vehicles because of their potential for environmental benefit.    

Before I depart for the long holiday weekend, I thought I would pass along some transportation policy-related links you might want to peruse in between turkey sandwiches, Black Friday sales and endless football over the coming days. There are items below about some potential new transportation leaders in Washington, a starter list of states that might address transportation revenue needs next year, and more.

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