With the federal surface transportation program scheduled to expire in September 2009, and with infrastructure needs far out-stripping funding from current taxes, the technology exists to implement a mileage-based fee,
said Martin Capper, CEO of Mark IV IVHS, addressing the 5,000 delegates of the 15th ITS World Congress this week in New York.

A mileage-based fee would be a fair way to collect funds needed to meet North America's infrastructure needs, Capper said.

"With key transportation leaders seeking an annual increase in infrastructure spending as great as $50 billion per year, we must look at alternatives to the motor fuel tax, especially in the long term when fuel tax revenue will decline because of fuel economy, alternative fuels and a long-term increase in oil prices."

To raise $50 billion annually with fuel taxes would require an increase in the current federal motor fuels tax of about 28 cents per gallon. A 2-cent-per-mile user fee would raise the same amount based only on activity in the top 100 major metropolitan areas. Nationally the revenue collected would be substantially more.

"Because of its inherent fairness in allocating costs to system users, a per-mile fee is one option that should be considered," added Capper. "5.9 GHz is proven and could be utilized to implement such a new fee, as well as offering coast-to-coast ubiquity for motorists in applications that today utilize disparate technologies such as electronic toll collection."

Nine years ago, the FCC allocated 75 megahertz of spectrum for intelligent transportation services to improve highway safety and efficiency as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's "Intelligent Transportation Systems" (ITS) national program. The FCC decided to use the 5.9 GHz band for a variety of Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) uses, such as traffic light control, traffic monitoring, travelers' alerts, automatic toll collection, traffic congestion detection, emergency vehicle signal preemption of traffic lights, and electronic inspection of moving trucks through data transmissions with roadside inspection facilities.

5.9 GHz has moved past the theoretic stage, Capper said, with successful field testing in California and Detroit during 2008. Once in place, a 5.9 GHz open-architecture system would be available for many additional applications, including a mileage-based fee to support infrastructure.

Mark IV IVHS supplies the majority of electronic toll collection equipment in the northeastern United States and has enabled many innovative intelligent transportation system deployments, including: Canada's Highway 407 ETR, the world's first, non-stop, all-electronic toll road; interoperability between truck electronic preclearance systems and toll collection, numerous border crossing projects; and, the E-ZPass system of the Interagency Group of 24 toll authorities.