WSTC votes in favor of switching to pay-per-mile charge for Washington drivers, rather than gas tax

OLYMPIA, Wash. — One of the reasons why gas may be expensive in your area is because Washington has the third-highest gas tax in the nation.

On Tuesday, the Washington State Transportation Commission voted unanimously to recommend replacing that high gas tax we all pay at the pump with a per-mile charge.

The commission calls it the road usage charge, or RUC.

The commission, which reviews and assesses the state’s transportation system, recommended to lawmakers that all vehicle owners would pay at least 2 and a half cents for every mile they drive, beginning in 2027.

This is far from a done deal — but here’s the concept behind all this.

Washington drivers pay 49 cents in tax for every gallon of gas they buy now.

But because there are so many more electric cars and fuel-efficient cars on the roads, people are buying less fuel than they used to — and that means less money paid at the pump for gas taxes.

The WSTC recommended Tuesday that drivers averaging 25 miles per gallon or higher, may be able to volunteer to pay by the mile, as soon as next year.

The state would waive the $225 registration fee for all-electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles when drivers pay for road usage by the mile.

The commission has been conducting statewide testing and research on the RUC, with 748 volunteer drivers for the last 10 years.

Supporters argue a pay-per-mile system could ultimately mean modest cost savings to low-income drivers who don’t drive long distances.

The RUC will be debated by lawmakers after the new year.

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