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Road Use Charge Could Come to Hawaii’s Counties, Replace Gas Tax

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A new payment method for the maintenance and improvement of roads and bridges is slated for introduction in Hawaii by 2025, specifically targeting electric vehicles. The plan involves charging drivers for using the state’s roads.

In 2025, electric vehicle owners will be asked to fill this gap with a charge of either eight-tenths of a cent per mile driven or a $50 flat tax. This system is set to apply to all vehicles by 2033, effectively replacing the gas tax, and it may even extend to the counties.

State data shows that as of June, there were 26,001 electric vehicles in Hawaii, marking an increase of 31 percent from the same month the previous year. This rise in electric vehicle usage has diminished the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) gas tax revenue, which is traditionally 16 cents per gallon.

The DOT is promoting the road usage charge as an equitable solution for residents in less affluent communities, who they say typically drive older and less fuel-efficient vehicles. The new system would lighten their burden of paying gas taxes to maintain the state’s roads.

Robin Shishido, Deputy Director of HDOT said, “When you look at a truck, it’s probably less fuel-efficient. The eight-tenths of a cent per mile rate was based on about 21-24 miles per gallon, so a truck is likely costing between 16-18 cents. With a road usage charge, they’d be paying less.”

Following the DOT’s presentation to the City Council Tuesday, Transportation Committee Chair Tyler Dos Santos-Tam foresees the road usage charge being implemented by the city and county, both of which currently impose a gas tax of 16 cents per gallon.

“As the state moves in this direction, the county will have to follow suit. I want us to be prepared, which is why we’re having this discussion potentially years out from the state fully implementing this,” said Dos Santos-Tam.

However, the DOT is simultaneously striving to address potential budget demands brought on by future climate change, while also imposing road usage charges on electric vehicles in a state that lacks substantial incentives for these vehicles.

Adding to the issue is Hawaii’s electricity rate, nearly triple the national average, causing some electric vehicle owners to feel the state is taking steps backward.

“We’re already paying for electricity. There’s tax on the electricity; it’s just another way to charge us. There’s no real incentive for driving an electric car in Hawaii,” said Mac Robin, an electric vehicle owner.

Source : Khon2