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Will We Shift to a VMT Approach

Chapter Host: Washington, D.C  |  March 10, 2021  |  62 minutes


Has the time “finally arrived” when the body politic has come to jettison a long-accepted fuel-based user fee for meeting funding needs for surface transportation at the national level?  Have we collectively “cried uncle” in recognition of the fact that politicians at the national level just cannot bring themselves to raise the rate that has been stagnant at the Federal level since 1993 and runs headlong into societal goals to eliminate the use of fossil fuels on the roadways?  Whether it’s called VMT fees, MBUFs, or RUCs, the concept of road user charging in the United States has been championed since the early 2000s by academics and analysts.  They argue that such approaches (not clearly defined) could address forecasted long-term shortfalls as well as facilitate changes in passenger travel behavior that could better optimize the roadway network.  Our speaker has been working on this issue since she served as Executive Director of one of two national commissions that recognized in 2007 the potential for a system of distance-based user fees and recommended further study, in the meantime, to help inform decision makers.  She continued to pursue the concept while on staff in the Senate, advocating for pilots to help determine whether the vulnerabilities of such approaches were real and might be overcome.

Based in Bethesda, MD, Susan Binder leads Cambridge Systematics’ Federal policy practice.  She brings over 45 years of professional experience and thought leadership in Federal funding and finance as well as program delivery.  Having worked on both US Senate and US House authorizing committees, served as FHWA’s first female Division Administrator, and led FHWA’s Office of Policy, she has unique insight into the dynamics of innovation and strategic practice of transportation investment and operation.

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