Viewpoint: What is the role for cities in replacing the gas tax?

The 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax is not indexed to inflation and has not been raised since 1993, putting a significant strain on federal transportation coffers. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Highway Trust Fund, which sends money to states for road and transit projects, is set to run dry by 2022. Many states have raised their own gas taxes to make up for the shortfall — AlabamaOhio and Michigan are among the states considering tax increases this year — but experts caution that the gas tax may be unsustainable.

More fuel-efficient cars and the increased adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) has also hurt gas tax revenue, as drivers add to the wear and tear on roads while avoiding the gas tax. NLC also notes that, with more mobility options available, planners need to “consider how transit, shared rides and new micromobility options like electric bikes and scooters should be charged to use the roadways.” That’s led to increasing conversation around a RUC, which would charge users more fairly and could open up more dynamic funding streams, like congestion pricing or higher fees for certain types of vehicles.