top of page

California Continues Its Pilot Program to Tax Drivers by the Mile. Is This Coming to Livermore?

The short answer is, not yet. However, state and national legislative bills and executive orders are leading to what looks like inevitable changes in how citizens pay taxes and fees to maintain the roads, bridges, and public transportation. At present, we pay for those through gasoline taxes —in California, about $1 for every gallon goes to state taxes and fees. In the future, if California and national governance plans prevail, we are likely to pay through what is called “road use charges” (RUC). Payment would be for miles driven and the mechanism for collecting that payment in California is to be developed via an RUC pilot program within the next five years.


This idea is not completely new to California. Its first pilot program was initiated in 2014 when the legislature realized that the increasing numbers of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road would result in a commensurate decreasing gasoline-tax-derived revenue to pay for roads. Senator Mark DeSaulnier thus authored State Senate Bill 1077, which was signed into law by then Governor Brown, creating an RUC pilot program involving 5000 participants over 9 months, which was completed in 2017. The program confirmed that RUC could potentially replace gas taxes and fees, but did not solve the problem of how to document and collect payment. Urgency to solve this problem increased with the requirement that California transition to a completely zero emission new vehicle market by 2035, as mandated by Governor Newsom’s September 2020 Executive Order N-79-20. To address this, Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill (SB) 339, signed into law by Governor Newsom in September 2021, extends the pilot program to 2027 and requires that a usable RUC payment method be developed. (References 1,3-4)


Methods for tracking the miles driven are being discussed. One possibility is a yearly mileage reading, collected via odometer readings or collection of mileage from insurance companies. Another is requiring drivers to carry GPS devices, which would track their driving. The Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is tasked by SB339 with recommending the methods to be tested for road use charging as well as suggesting participants by July 2023. They discussed their progress in their September 2022 meeting. The pilot program and summary report are to be completed by the end of 2026 (Reference 2,4).


There are complications with such a project. Chief among these is can the privacy of the driver be maintained in such a system? Also, as laws now stand, there would be no way to collect taxes from those visiting from out-of-state for their use of California roads. Plus there would still be federal taxes on gasoline purchased, so there would be a mixed taxation system of gasoline and RUC. EV drivers are likely to be the most irritated by a changeover to RUC, as they pay little to no taxes under the current system.


For now, citizens of Livermore and the Tri-Valley are not affected. But with the state requiring a zero emission new vehicle market by 2035, we are likely to be in the next several years.


1. Paying by the mile for California roads, infrastructure, Daryl Hopkins, February 9, 2022, Capitol Weekly,


2. California Transportation Commission Road Charge Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting 24 February 2023,

3. CalTrans Road Charge FAQs,, accessed 2 March 2023.


4. Senate Bill 339, 27 September 2021, billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB339

bottom of page