OLYMPIA – Washington drivers are ready to get behind the wheel and test a new way to pay for our roadways. Since active recruitment of drivers began last fall, the Washington Road Usage Charge Pilot Project has heard from nearly 5,000 drivers from every corner of Washington state who have expressed interest in participating. With the recruitment phase now complete, starting today (Tues., Feb. 6) the Washington State Transportation Commission will begin inviting drivers to enroll and fill the 2,000 available spots in this year-long pilot.
“We are thrilled with the strong response and interest in participation from Washington drivers,” said Joe Tortorelli, chair of the Washington Road Usage Charge Steering Committee and Washington state transportation commissioner from Spokane. “It’s exciting to know that so many drivers are interested in this unique opportunity to inform future transportation policy – we hope to see a continued strong response throughout the enrollment process.”
Over the next few weeks, invitations to potential participants will be sent via email until all 2,000 drivers are enrolled. The enrollment goal is for a participant pool that best represents state demographics, including geographic location (rural, urban, and suburban), race, income, and gender. Types of cars driven will also be considered, as the pilot is aiming for a mix of electric, hybrid, and gas-powered vehicles. The 2,000 drivers that ultimately enroll will test a simulation of a road usage charge system and provide feedback on their experience throughout the pilot.
Drivers who are not invited to participate will be placed on a wait list and will remain on our interested drivers list so they can stay in the loop as the project progresses. If participants drop out of the pilot project, or if invited participants do not enroll, drivers on the wait list will be invited to fill the open spots.
The findings from the pilot project will be presented to the legislature and the governor before they make any decisions about whether to enact a road usage charge in Washington. Public participation in the pilot is crucial, as it will inform future decision-making. The pilot will conclude in early 2019 and a report will be presented to the legislature during the 2020 legislative session.