A projection of motor fuel tax revenue and analysis of alternative revenue sources in Georgia
Cherry, Phillip Warren
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Transportation funding is critical to maintaining the assets that provide mobility for the movement of Georgia's people and goods. Currently, most of Georgia's transportation revenue is provided by the motor fuel tax. Inflation and recent increases in fuel economy have decreased fuel tax revenue in Georgia and weakened the Georgia Department of Transportation's (GDOT)'s ability to maintain and expand its transportation network. This thesis synthesizes factors from literature that affect motor fuel tax revenue. These include demographic, economic, technological, and environmental forces that influence travel behavior and vehicle fuel economy. A model was then created that incorporated these factors to model GDOT's 2009 fuel tax revenue and then project revenue in 2020 and 2030. The model uses an input/output structure that segments the fleet into personal, freight, and transit categories. User inputs, historical data, and projections are linked via relationships and feedback loops to project travel and fuel tax revenue forward. Because a near-infinite number of scenarios exist, conservative and aggressive scenarios were created for 2020 and 2030 scenarios that output revenue on an absolute, per-mile, and per-capita basis for comparison with more recent revenues. The model outputs predict marginal declines in revenue by 2020 and significant declines by 2030. In response to these declines, the thesis evaluates methods of increasing transportation revenue. These methods include increasing the fuel tax, incorporating a VMT-fee, and widespread tolling measures. After evaluation, a policy recommendation is provided for how to best implement revenue strategies.