Congressional Briefing - April 26, 2011

A New Way to Pay for Transportation: Exploring a Shift from Fuel Taxes to Mileage-Based User Fees

trucks on a highway


Liisa Ecola
Senior Project Associate, RAND Corporation


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


2103 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.


About the Program

Congress's top transportation priority this year will be passing a surface transportation reauthorization bill. One of the critical issues Congress will confront is how to make up for the declining revenues generated by the federal fuel tax due to inflation and improved fuel economy. Mileage-based user fees based on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) are viewed by many as a promising alternative to fuel taxes because, among other reasons, VMT revenues would be unaffected by fuel economy or fuel type and fees could be structured to help address other transportation goals, such as reducing congestion, harmful emissions, and road wear. But transitioning from fuel taxes to VMT fees would be a challenging undertaking, with many technical, institutional, and political uncertainties to be resolved.

Join us to hear about approaches to funding, organizing, and conducting a comprehensive set of system trials designed to help policy- and decisionmakers better prepare for a transition to VMT fees.

About the Speaker

Liisa Ecola is a senior project associate at the RAND Corporation whose current work is the areas of road pricing and the intersection of transportation with climate policy. She has coauthored two reports on VMT fees and a report on the equity implications of congestion pricing. She also organized and cowrote the proceedings for three workshops at RAND on climate, energy, and transportation policy. Prior to joining RAND, Ecola conducted extensive work in smart growth, managing the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for five years. In the transport demand management field, she worked on several research projects on the effectiveness and best marketing techniques for commuter benefits and taught courses for the National Transit Institute. Ecola received her master of city planning degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

About RAND

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most, such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. As a nonpartisan organization, RAND operates independent of political and commercial pressures. We serve the public interest by helping lawmakers reach informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. Visit us online at

Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100, ext. 5395.