SECTION 1. This bill is intended to help address the need for the commonwealth to identify short- and long-term alternatives or supplements to the motor vehicle fuel tax, which is particularly important given the diminishing value of the motor vehicle fuel tax, declining supplies of conventional petroleum-based fuels, and increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles. The commonwealth is uniquely positioned to become a leader in the advancement of the technology and methods needed to develop and implement alternative ways to raise transportation revenue.
SECTION 2. PILOT PROGRAM.
(a) The department of transportation shall develop, implement, and oversee one or more statewide pilot programs to assess owners of motor vehicles a user fee that is based on the number of miles traveled on roads in this state by those motor vehicles.
(b) The pilot programs shall include at least 1,000 volunteers across the commonwealth who are representative of drivers of trucks, passenger and commercial vehicles and throughout the commonwealth, who will have on-board vehicle-mileage-counting equipment added to their vehicles, administered in a manner the department of transportation deems appropriate.
(c) The pilot programs shall test the reliability, ease of use, cost, and public acceptance of technology and methods for:
(1) counting the number of miles traveled by particular vehicles;
(2) reporting the number of miles traveled by particular vehicles; and
(3) collecting payments from participants in the pilot programs.
(d) The pilot programs shall also analyze and evaluate the ability of different technologies and methods to:
(1) protect the integrity of data collected and reported;
(2) ensure drivers’ privacy; and
(3) vary pricing based on the time of driving, type of road, proximity to transit, vehicle fuel efficiency, participation in car-sharing or pooling, or income of the driver.
(e) The pilot programs shall last at least one year.
(f) The department of transportation may refund motor vehicle fuel taxes paid by participants in pilot programs under this Act or may otherwise compensate participants in pilot programs under this Act. Identifying information about the pilot programs shall not be public and shall be exempt from disclosure under M.G.L. c. 66, s. 10.
SECTION 3. REPORT. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, no later than two years from the passage of this act, the department of transportation shall report to the general court the initial result of the pilot study, including the feasibility of permanently assessing a vehicle mileage user fee, an evaluation of the impacts of such a fee on the economy, the environment, and traffic congestion, a comparison to other potential alternatives or supplements to the gas tax, and its initial recommendations together with legislation necessary to carry its recommendations into effect by filing the same with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives, and to the joint committee on transportation.
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