Be aware of road usage charge proposal

If you drive a car, you should be more than interested in a pair of meetings coming up on Kauai, because they could end up costing you money.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation will hold 14 community meetings across the state to get public feedback on the concept of a road-usage charge (RUC) to fund upkeep of roadways and bridges. Community meetings are scheduled tonight, 5:30 to 7:30 at Wilcox Elementary School cafeteria in Lihue, and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Koloa Neighborhood Center.

Hawaii residents can also provide input and ask questions via an online community meeting on April 18. More information about all the meetings is available on the project website,

So, what’s this all about? It’s about too many people driving fuel-efficient cars. Now, normally, that’s a good thing. Smaller, lighter cars mean less stress on the roads, less crowded roads but, more importantly, they burn less gas, which is good for the environment. Cars that are economical are usually touted as wonderful.

But maybe not.

That’s because fuel-tax revenue provides a third of Hawaii’s highways funding. And that revenue is decreasing as cars become more fuel-efficient. So the state is, as it said in a press release, looking at a long-term replacement for the gas tax that is “sustainable and fair to all road users.”

It doesn’t seem right that because more people are choosing to drive smaller cars, thus using less fuel, the state wants to come up with another way to make up the difference in falling fuel-tax revenue. We don’t blame them, but we don’t like it. Seems we would reward people for driving economical cars, not figure out ways to change the fee system so they have to pay more money. Some people have to drive long distances to work and bought small cars that get more than 30 mph because of that long drive. This could hit them the hardest.

So, how does this RUC system work?

Vehicle owners pay for actual miles driven versus a gasoline-tax system where owners pay by the amount of fuel their vehicle consumes. Hawaii is one of a dozen states, including California and Oregon, that is investigating whether the switch to a pay-per-mile-driven charge is feasible and how it might be implemented.

“Hawaii’s study looks at a RUC system as a revenue-neutral replacement to the current 16 cents per gallon state fuel tax,” said the press release from the Hawaii Department of Transportation. “As a part of this study, important factors such as sustainability, fairness, information and privacy protection, and other topics will be addressed.”

While it sounds perfectly fair to charge people based on miles driven, there are questions surrounding how that will work.

w How will the state collect mileage information?

w How will the state collect the fee from drivers?

w Would they be billed annually? Monthly?

The state knows it has work to do. The Hawaii Road Usage Charge Demonstration is a three-year project to investigate the use of a per-mile fee to fund upkeep of roads and bridges instead of a system where drivers pay at the pump.

We encourage people to attend one of these two meetings on Kauai and share their views.

  1. BelieveItOrNot March 22, 2019 1:42 am Reply

    Believe it or not, this proposal sounds familiar to when the state raised its vehicle registration fees? The state needed money to fix roads and highways so they increased the vehicle registration fees to 3-4 times its cost at the time prior to implementing the new fees.

    Believe it or not, this sounds familiar to when the State/County raises its GET to fix the roads. The county of Kauai has stated many times in public testimony that the GET was raised to generated 250 million in road repair funding for the next 10 years.

    Believe it or not, the state of Hawaii already has a GAS tax fee that generates funding for roads and highways. The 16 cents per gallon already helps pay for roads and highways.

    So what gives? Has they state of Hawaii and the counties provided the number of electric vehicles to fossil fuel vehicles ratio that supports their claim?

    This also seems suspicious to me that this happens as soon as the federal government and the media announced that the Honolulu rail project is being audited by the federal government for fraud, waste, and abuse.

    Believe it or not, the people of Hawaii are already paying a triple tax on roads and highways repairs. This is through gas tax, vehicle registration fees, and general excise tax (GET).

    So what and why are the true reasons to this attempt to siphon as much money they can get out of everyone?

    Everyone in the private transportation industry has to research this info and testify because another tax will come of this.

    Believe it or not the Federal Government scolded the state of Hawaii for not spending over 100 million on roads and highways. This audit was conducted by the Federal Government because the funding was provided at the State’s request for Federal Government funding.

    Believe it or not that there is more to this than what is being told by the State of Hawaii.

  2. behappy March 22, 2019 2:45 am Reply

    How about limiting the amount of rental cars per island or tacking on a tax for rentals. Those of us who reside in Hawaii are already taxed enough for our renewal registration fees. What do these rental companies pay, the same as the citizens? Don’t tax citizens because the rental companies are filling our roads with more and more tourist each year. Make public transportation more attractive for visitors. Just a few suggestions.

    1. livealoha March 25, 2019 2:36 pm Reply

      Yep. Drivers have a gas tax and get sold a new GET tax for road maintenance and repair yet all those tax dollars go into a giant slush fund. There needs to be a direct line item allocation for roads. Without a line item we will always be borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

      With regard to vehicle registration fees- they are not allocated correctly. I have a mini car and a big truck. The price difference between the two is negligible. Fact: Big trucks put more wear on the roads and should pay more road tax.

  3. james March 22, 2019 7:09 am Reply

    Fair? I’ve got an idea; why not charge people for the amount of gas they use. Increase the tax rate so that the more gas you use, the more you pay. This penalizes those that use more fossil fuels which impact the environment and rewards those who purchase vehicles who get better gas mileage. Wait, don’t we do this already? Just raise the gas tax and keep the same system!!!! More money to fix roads. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

  4. RG DeSoto March 22, 2019 8:39 am Reply

    The sad fact is that no matter what opposition is at the meetings, our masters, viewing us as milking cattle, have already decided what’s to happen. That will be all of us that drive paying way more than we already do as the hacks look at this as an opportunity to up their “take”.
    Unfortunately, even with the increased taxes the state will coerce from us, there is a high probability that the additionally confiscated dollars will not all be spent on roads…more social programs anyone? Then, in several years when the roads show no sign of substantial improvement we’ll hear the “lack of funds” whine and calls for even more theft of our incomes.
    Disgraceful, but so typical of state incompetence.
    RG DeSoto

  5. manongindashadow March 22, 2019 11:55 am Reply

    It’s not our fault we choose lighter and less gas use cars. So, don’t penalize us! find some other way to make money to support our roads repairs. Such as, legalize a state lottery.

  6. truth be known March 22, 2019 1:50 pm Reply

    Here’s an idea. We could use the pay-by-mile system but pro-rate the charge based on the weight of the vehicle in question. Therefore people who drive fuel efficient, low weight vehicles would pay considerably less than the people who drive the oversized vehicles and heavy trucks that do the most damage to our road system. That would encourage people to buy smaller, less polluting vehicles and drive less often.

  7. vote red March 23, 2019 3:18 am Reply

    How about we stop electing liberals and find a new way to generate income for the state! Stop voting blue, they have no ideas except theft and waste.

  8. No brainah March 23, 2019 6:11 am Reply

    This one no brainah! Just make the electric car owners keep track of their mileage since they no use hardly any gas while gas cars continue to pay the high gas tax for their gas cars..
    bottom line is not weather you use gas cars or electric cars.. they both use the roads! Gas pay their share for road use from gas purchase. Now electric cars need to pay up for their use of the roads..

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