Traffic on Interstate 5
Traffic on Interstate 5. The state is seeking volunteers for a study to find new ways to fund road repairs. Photo by Chris Stone

Caltrans put out a call this week for 150 volunteers to help with research on a road user charge as an alternative to the state gas tax.

“The Road Charge Program is working to develop a fairer, more transparent and more sustainable way to fund road and highway repairs based on how many miles Californians drive, instead of how many gallons of gas they buy,” according to a Caltrans statement.

Those interested in volunteering can complete a participant recruitment survey. Volunteers do not need to own or lease a vehicle in order to participate, but they must be 18 or older.

Participants will receive up to $100 in return for their time and feedback, according to Caltrans. The demonstration will start in January and last six months.

During this phase of the project, researchers will explore the ways that drivers could be charged by the mile through a user-friendly pay-at-the-pump and electric vehicle charging station system, or through a usage-based insurance approach, according to Caltrans.

In future phases, researchers will test payment of ride-share miles and collect data from autonomous vehicles through an app.

The study aims to develop new ways of funding for road and highway repairs in a state that is growing more sustainable with increasing zero-emission options on the market.

“Caltrans is continuing its research to explore how a future road user charge can fund transportation projects throughout the state,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “We want Californians to join us in testing payment options that will inform our research in designing an equitable and sustainable road charge program.”

– City News Service