Caltrans Seeks Volunteers for ‘Road Charge’ Pilot


ContactEdward Barrera

Participants can earn up to $400 and a tax credit for helping test system for six months

SACRAMENTO — Caltrans is looking for volunteers to participate in a statewide pilot program to test a “road charge” system to pay for critical infrastructure repairs. A road charge is a per mile fee where all drivers pay to maintain the roads based on how much they drive, rather than how much gas they buy. As the collection of gas tax revenue is estimated to decrease in the coming years, Senate Bill 339 (Wiener, 2021) established the pilot program to test the potential feasibility of alternative ways to maintain the state’s roads, which could potentially show a net savings for some motorists under certain circumstances.
The six-month Road Charge Collection Pilot will be conducted from August 2024 to January 2025. The pilot will test how the system would work, including the payment process. Participation is completely optional – interested drivers can complete a form through the end of June. Eligible participants can earn up to $400 in incentives for helping test the new system and providing their feedback. Motorists selected for the pilot program will be notified in July.
California has been studying road charge as a potential long-term solution for a decade, and many other states also are looking into it or have already started road charge programs of their own. This pilot will specifically test revenue collection by requiring pilot participants in the pilot be charged a flat per-mile fee or a customized fee based on the miles-per-gallon fuel economy of their vehicle. This is the first pilot the state has conducted that will require actual payment of the road charges. There is no policy mandate or outcome attached to the results of this pilot, which will be reported to the Legislature.
Caltrans is seeking a wide range of participants and vehicle types that reflect the state’s diversity and demographics. Drivers of either gas or electric non-commercial passenger vehicles will be asked to drive as they would normally and pay their monthly charge online. Participants will also provide feedback by completing surveys at the start and end of the pilot. Participants will receive a credit for the gas taxes or a proportional refund of the electric vehicle registration fee incurred during the pilot. In addition, if participants complete all required activities, they can earn up to $400 in additional incentives.
Everyone who chooses to participate will have several mileage reporting options to choose from, including manual odometer entry, an on-board plug-in device with or without GPS, or in-vehicle telematics without GPS. There are security protocols in place to protect personal identifying information using the highest data protection standards. The GPS data is anonymized, and any personal information collected during the pilot will be destroyed shortly after the pilot concludes.
Learn more about the Road Charge Collection Pilot Program