Wednesday 12 July 2023

Hawaii becomes latest US state to legislate for road user charging

Following on from Oregon, Utah and Virginia, Hawaii is the latest US state to introduce road user charging (RUC) (called road usage charging in the US) as a revenue raising measure.  

Senate Bill 1534 has been signed into legislation by Governor Josh Green and is now Act 222, following two sets of pilots into distance based road charging in the State.

The Act does the following in respect of RUC:

  • Eliminates the US$50 state annual registration surcharge from 1 July 2025. 
  • Until 30 June 2028, requires EV owners to choose either to pay a $50 per annum fee or a per mile rate of US$0.008 (0.8c per mile) to be reported annually at vehicle safety checks. 
  • From 30 June 2028, RUC will be mandatory for all EVs. 
  • A plan is to be developed to implement RUC for all cars and light-duty trucks by 2033 and report to the Legislature about that plan. 
This is more advanced than RUC in any other US state, as Oregon, Utah and Virginia all provide the option of paying an annual flat fee and can then drive as many miles as the vehicle owner wishes. Hawaii will enable that option only until 2028, after that date, RUC will be mandatory. This is much closer to RUC in Victoria, Australia and in New Zealand.

More importantly, the legislation lays the path towards moving ALL light vehicles onto RUC, and therefore away from fuel tax, which is much more forward thinking than other jurisdictions (including Victoria and New Zealand).

RUC in Hawaii will effectively be reported using odometers, inspected at the state's mandatory annual vehicle safety inspections. 

Important to remember Hawaii not only has state gas tax that this is intended to progressively replace, but county based fuel taxes, and this program will aim to try to replace them as well (although not the Federal tax on fuel, which pays into the Federal Highway Trust Fund).

This followed an extensive pilot program to test RUC with the public in Hawaii, seen in the HiRUC final report here.  This website has a good description of that program. This followed the previous Hawaii Road Usage Charge Demonstration Program (PDF). 

Disclaimer: Throughout the Hawaii Road Usage Charge Demonstration and the HiRUC project, Milestone Solutions (now part of CDM Smith, and previously called D'Artagnan Consulting) was the lead contractor responsible for delivering Hawaii’s research and demonstration program including public and stakeholder outreach, policy and financial analysis, technical and system design, implementation, and evaluation of results. I worked on several elements of the HiRUC project.

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