Pay-by-mile gas tax pilot to begin in 2 weeks

OLYMPIA, Wash. — State Transportation officials say a pay-by-mile gas tax pilot will start for a group of drivers in two weeks.

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In the pilot, drivers will be mock-charged by the number of miles traveled, rather than paying the per-gallon gas tax. No real payments are made in the pilot, which is based on 2.4 cents per mile, which the state says is equivalent to what the average 20.5 mpg car in Washington currently pays under the 49.4 cents per gallon gas tax.

The pilot involves as many as 2,000 drivers whose mileage is tracked by their odometer, a mileage meter with GPS and non-GPS options, an app or a mileage permit.

The pay-by-mile system is being tested because cars are getting better gas mileage and leaders expect that will lead to less gas tax revenue.

The transportation commission says that by the year 2035, gas tax revenues in Washington will drop by 45 percent.

That revenue is the main source of funding for roads, bridges and ferries.

An update on the pay-by-mile pilot will be discussed at 9 a.m. Thursday in Olympia.

The pilot will run for about a year.

It could be as long as eight years before Washington switches to the pay-by-mile system, if state leaders decide to do so.