The main objective of this research is to investigate the most influential parameters and possible scenarios affecting the District’s Highway Trust Fund revenues due to increased telecommuting and changes in commute mode in order to propose a multi-criteria decision-making model for transportation tax revenue generation. The final report will identify trends in HTF funds and make recommendation for possible ways to avoid insolvency.
The District’s Highway Trust Fund is funded by the District gas tax. The funds are used to provide the match funding for federal highway funds used to build and maintain the District’s transportation system. The District of Columbia has 1,057 miles of federal and local roadways with 21.6% in poor and 25.3% in fair conditions, and 244 bridges of which 12% are reported as structurally deficient. The District’s Highway Trust Fund is an integral source of funding to maintain this infrastructure. The adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles and decreases in road trips due to the transition to telecommuting and eCommerce, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, are significantly influencing transportation revenue generation from gasoline taxes. This will become a serious challenge for infrastructure asset management in the near future. The project should be completed within 18 months of notice to proceed.
Desired Outcome & Expected Benefits
The final report will include recommendations for implementing the products of this study, including specific alternatives for matching transportation revenues to the needs of transportation agencies.
Analyze Current Transportation Tax Revenue Models
DC’s transportation expenses include the costs required to operate and maintain the current transportation system, and to expand services and infrastructure as needed. Due to inflation, real revenue value has decreased. In addition, higher vehicle fuel efficiency has further worsened revenue generation (Puro, 2013). To address the deficiency of the current funding scheme, this task will analyze the current transportation tax revenue model and the variables affecting it in the District. See Figure 1.
Investigate the Impact of Telecommuting on Transportation Tax Revenue and Expenditures
In this task, the impact of the rapid transition to telecommuting on daily travel patterns, and consequently on District transportation tax revenue generation, will be investigated. While the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased rates of telecommuting in the District of Columbia, this investigation will focus primarily on long-term trends towards work-from-home, while considering the effects of new telework policies and practices that have been tried during the pandemic.
Conduct Sensitivity Analyses
In addition to recent rapid transitions to telecommuting, other factors influencing transportation tax revenue generation, will be analyzed, see figure 2, to develop projection models of future revenue. After identifying the main influential factors, a sensitivity analysis will be conducted for each variable to estimate its effects on revenues. Given the high uncertainty about most of these parameters, the sensitivity analysis will focus on realistically estimating transportation tax revenue generation. Subsequently, a parametric study will be conducted to analyze the correlations and interrelation between the most influential factors and transportation tax revenue generation.
Analyze Data, Develop Model, and Evaluate Alternatives
Using the data generated from prior tasks, a model will be developed to predict future transportation tax revenue generation in the next 10 years and propose alternative strategies for the District to bridge the gap between the revenue lost and expenditures. This model will be developed with the assistance and consultation of DDOT and its funding information. These strategies will be the result of the sensitivity analysis and a series of what-if analyses of possible future scenarios to draw conclusions regarding models and effective policies for funding future transportation needs. These scenarios will be vetted in advance by DDOT and will be generated during a period of ongoing communication about the efficacy of the frameworks generated during the analysis process.
Samuel Brooks, SRP
Stephanie Dock, SRP
Progress this quarter
The project was successfully obligated and a kick-off meeting was held with Stephanie Dock and Sam Brooks from DDOT, Dr. Stephen Ahrin from Howard University, and the research team. After several revisions to the project scope of work the team is in agreement and the researchers have started on their first task, a literature review of the subject. More information and an initial progress report is expected during Q1 of FY22.
Lengthier than expected road to obligation of funds, project team now on track.
Sam and Stephanie met with the project team for a run through of the literature review and the team's data needs. The literature review seems to encompass the concerned literature well. The DDOT team has since been working to provide guidance on which data is or is not relevant to the topic and to track down additional data points requested by the research team. We will anticipate having another meeting with the research team for an update on the project in Q2 of FY22.
Certain data from the DMV is looking like it will cost a significant amount of money to gather.
Any relevant materials, including problem statement, scope of work, interim deliverables, reports, data can be uploaded below.