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Transportation study finds road usage charge more equitable than gas tax

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Charging drivers per mile driven to pay for road maintenance and operations would be more expensive for the state to manage than the current gas tax system – but it would be more equitable.

That's what the state Department of Transportation shared in a briefing for Hawaiʻi lawmakers this week.

The DOT has held community meetings, and surveyed and monitored select Hawaiʻi drivers over the past two years for a federally funded study.

A road usage charge would replace the current gas tax.

Ed Sniffen, DOT's deputy director for highways, said the study found that people living in rural communities are shouldering most of the cost now with the gas tax system.

“So this will just balance out usage of the system and the payment of these systems throughout," Sniffen said.

It also found that mileage could be counted effectively during annual safety checks.

"It’s the benefit that we have in Hawaiʻi over many other states,” he said, adding that out-of-state cars are not driving in and do not need to be counted.

Sniffen said the DOT expects a report will be sent to legislators later this month.

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