Technology Companies Selected for California Road Charge Pilot

California's Road Charge Pilot Program is set to start this July. Applications for the 5,000 volunteers are being collected. Three companies hope to entice participants to select their programs by offering them 'high-tech perks.'
March 20, 2016, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Four vendors have been chosen to participate in the 9-month California pilot, which will be the nation's second vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) fee program after Oregon's began last July. Three of the vendors, listed below, will offer "access to vehicle data usually offered to fleet managers," according to FutureStructure, a publication of Governing Magazine.

These companies may "provide value added services such as vehicle health reports or driver-safety feedback at no cost to participants for the duration of the pilot," a statement (from the pilot program) reads. IMS describes their services here"The fourth vendor, [Germany-based] Arvato Mobility Solutions, will manage the accounts," notes FutureStructure.

Azuga and IMS already participate in the Oregon program (known as OReGO) which is not a pilot, contrary to what many media, including FutureStructure, claim. [Pilots have termination dates. See post on OReGO's sponsoring legislation.]

If the California pilot works like OReGO, here's what to expect, according to an April 2015 post from an Oregon-based conference on the road usage charge (RUC):

Nate Bryer of Azuga explained that the RUC will essentially work as a public-private-partnership: Participants select one of the three providers, install their device [called a dongle] into their vehicle's on-board diagnostics (OBD) system, and receive a quarterly bill, or rebate check from that company...The device will not only determine how much you drove, but how much fuel you used—necessary to subtract the appropriate gas tax as the RUC is meant to replace the gas tax, not supplement it.

Participants need not select a tracking program to report their mileage. An earlier post dealt with impediments to acceptance of the California road charge, including privacy. Program participants can select non-tracking options posted here.

The second part of the article deals with the pressing need to replace the fuel tax with a sustainable option, or increase it (easier said than done), as it will be decreasing for the third straight year come July (posted here). The state's looming infrastructure crisis is detailed from a revenue perspective.

Increasing the gas tax has a distinct disadvantage over the road charge because of the state's focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions which entails transitioning from carbon-emitting gasoline to alternative fuel or zero emission vehicles.

Charging for miles driven rather than gas burned would be consistent with those goals, and complementary as well as it would encourage motorist to consider alternatives to driving to reduce their invoice.

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Published on Thursday, March 10, 2016 in FutureStructure
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