This report analyzes data from the 2006-2007 Oregon Road User Fee Pilot program to assess if and how urban form variables correlate with travel behavior changes that participants made in response to the mileage-based fee program. It finds that charging a noticeably higher fee for driving in congested conditions can successfully motivate households to reduce their VMT in those times and places where congestion is most a problem. Households in both traditional (mixed use, dense, transit-accessible) and suburban (single-use, low density) neighborhoods will likely reduce their peak-hour and overall travel under a charging scheme that charges a high-rate for peak-hour travel, though households in the traditional neighborhoods will do so more. It also finds that a mileage fee program that charges a high rate during the peak hour is likely to strengthen the underlying influence of urban form on travel behavior. In other words, land use probably will matter more to transportation planning if the nation shifts to a new paradigm of mileage-based financing and pricing system. For transportation policy-makers, this raises another layer of consideration when designing the optimal rate structure to achieve policy goals—either reduced VMT and congestion or sustained funding sources. For urban planners, this offers a wonderful opportunity to move towards a sustainable built environment through revised and compatible land use regulation under the context of a mileage-based fee. The research also reveals that program design could significantly affect a household’s response to a mileage-based fee program. Particularly in Portland, the establishment of an endowment account for participants actually increased household VMT when a flat-rate fee was charged, the opposite to policy-makers’ expectation. One possible explanation is that paying the mileage-based fees once a month, instead of paying the gas tax at each visit to the pump, may have encouraged households to drive more due to the reduced gas price at the pump.
Mileage fee; Land use; Financing; Congestion pricing; Portland
Zhan Guo, Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Jennifer Dill, and Megan Quirk. "The Intersection of Urban Form and Mileage Fees: Findings from the Oregon Road User Fee Pilot Program, Research Report 10-04" Mineta Transportation Institute Publications (2011).