State looking for volunteers to test pay-by-mile gas tax replacement

TACOMA, Wash. – Get ready to pay less at the pump – but it’s not what you think.

State transportation officials are studying how to eliminate the gas tax and instead charge drivers by the number of miles driven, and they are looking for thousands of volunteer drivers for a new pilot program.

The money raised from the gas tax will be going down over the next several years as more people move toward gas-friendly or electric cars, according to the Washington State Transportation Commission.

But drivers believe paying per mile isn’t the answer.

“No," said James Everett. “No, I don’t agree with that.”

“I got to drive, I got to take him to the doctor,” said Denise Nimrick.

It’s hard to find anybody who wants to pay more at the pump.

“I think it’s already so high that it’s hard to afford to go anywhere as it is,” said Jody Payne.

The state says it’s staring into a black hole, predicting a 45% decline in gas tax revenue by 2035.

To figure out how to pay for ferries, bridges and roads, the state is planning a new pilot program for early next year. It will look at eliminating the current gasoline tax – and instead charge you only for the miles you drive.

The state is looking for 2,000 volunteers to use one of four methods to calculate their tax.

Volunteers will either pre-select their annual mileage, submit to quarterly odometer readings, install an automated mileage meter or use a smartphone app to report mileage.

The drivers who volunteer for the pilot program won’t actually be charged any tax – this is just a way for transportation officials to figure out how to collect the data.