About the Assessment

Just the Facts on Road Usage Charges
Road Usage Charge Folio


This site provides information on the Road Usage Charge Assessment. With a road usage charge system, we would pay for the roads as we do for other public utilities—based on how much we use them.

For almost a century, the motor fuel tax (or gas tax) has been a stable source of funding for our road network. It remains our primary source of transportation funding, supporting 76% of all state transportation investments, but it is not sustainable over the long term (Connecting Washington Task Force, Final Report 2012).

Population and vehicle miles traveled will continue to increase but vehicles will burn less gasoline – resulting in less revenue to maintain and operate our roadway system. To ensure a well maintained system, the move to cleaner, smarter vehicles must
be accompanied by a change in the way we pay for our roads. This approaching situation has caused leaders around the U.S. to look for alternatives.

Purpose of Steering Committee

Here in Washington, the Legislature directed the Washington State Transportation Commission, in coordination with the Washington State Department of Transportation, to work with a diversified stakeholder Steering Committee to examine the feasibility of transitioning from the gas tax to a road usage charge, which would charge drivers by the mile rather than by the gallon as currently done, and to explore policy issues, evaluate the business case, and lay out a path to potential implementation.

Past work

In 2012, the Legislature directed the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) to work with a diverse stakeholder Steering Committee to examine the feasibility of transitioning to a road usage charge (RUC), and then to explore policy issues, evaluate the business case, and lay out a path to potential implementation. A lot of work has been accomplished over the three years. In 2014, the Steering Committee:

  • Developed a Concept of Operations describing at a high level all major aspects of the system and user interactions;
  • Evaluated 10 RUC transition approaches under four economic scenarios, all of which were forecast to yield more net revenue than the fuel tax over 25 years; and
  • Identified remaining policy and operational questions.

Current work

For 2016 (July to December), the Legislature has asked the WSTC to complete the work necessary to launch a road usage charge pilot project, with all implementation details for a pilot project identified and incorporated into a pilot project implementation plan.
The proviso can be found here. See Section 205(4) starting on page 11.