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Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Factors for Revised Apportionments for FY 2009 to 2012

January 11, 2012, Revised August 30, 2012 to incorporate full year FY 2012 apportionments.

The purpose of this document is to explain why the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) revised Recreational Trails Program (RTP) apportionments for Federal Fiscal Years (FY) 2009 through 2012. The revisions were required because FHWA discovered a data entry error for the amount of light truck vehicle-miles traveled. This error resulted in a significant underestimation of nonhighway recreational fuel use attributable to light truck use, which affected the ratio of nonhighway recreational fuel use attributable to the States. When FHWA discovered this error, it was required to revise apportionments. This requirement is based on a ruling of the Comptroller General of the United States (B-145677, JULY 7, 1961, 41 COMP. GEN. 16).

Background

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both nonmotorized and motorized recreational trail uses. The Congress authorized the RTP for $60 million in FY 2005, $70 million in FY 2006, $75 million in FY 2007, $80 million in FY 2008, and $85 million in FY 2009. Extension Acts provided $85 million in FY 2010, $97.411 million (revised) in FY 2011, and an initial $39 million for the first half of FY 2012. Extension #9 raised the FY 2012 amount to $59 million, see Apportionment Notice. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) provided a full year of FY 2012 funds, $78.5 million (accounting for rescissions and other adjustments), see the Apportionment Notice.

FHWA may use up to $840,000 annually (reduced to $784,196 for FY 2012) for program administration and trail related research, technical assistance, and training.

The remaining funds are distributed by formula to the States. Half of the funds are distributed equally among all States, and half are distributed in proportion to the estimated amount of nonhighway recreational fuel use in each State: fuel used for off-road recreation by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-road motorcycles, and off-road light trucks. This formula was last used in FY 2009. Formulas have not been recalculated under the Extension Acts. The calculation of the apportionments under the Extension Acts is detailed in the apportionment notice for each fiscal year. See FHWA Notices N4510.740, N4510.743, N4510.745, and N4510.756 at www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/notices/.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and its contractor, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), developed a model to estimate the amount of nonhighway recreational fuel use and the relative shares among the States. See Fuel Used for Off-Road Recreation: A Reassessment of the Fuel Use Model, Report No. ORNL/TM-1999/100, at http://www-cta.ornl.gov/cta/Publications/Publications_1999.html. The model estimates nonhighway recreational fuel use based on the four major kinds of off-highway recreational activity:

Light Truck Fuel Use Estimate

The modelers determined that the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS) was the best source of data on the share of light trucks used off-road for recreational purposes. The VIUS had been conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census about every five years (called the Truck Inventory and Use Survey (TIUS) through 1997). After the 2002 VIUS was performed, the Census Bureau discontinued the program. The latest survey data available is from 2002. FY 2009 was the first year that the 2002 VIUS was incorporated into the RTP apportionments. The 1992 TIUS was the basis for estimates for 1998 through 2001, and the 1997 TIUS was the basis for estimates from FY 2002 through 2008.

VIUS respondents were asked to provide the percentage of miles that the vehicle was operated off-road, and the primary use of the truck (personal, business, or mixed). Respondents whose primary use of the vehicle was mixed (both business and personal) were asked to provide the percentage of business use vs. personal use. It is important to separate business use from personal use due to the fact that some off-road light truck travel is not for recreational purposes (i.e. vehicles used by the lumber industry). Information about the truck weight, body type, and configuration is also available so that pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles under 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight can be identified.

The VIUS did not specifically collect information on the vehicle miles used off-road for recreational purposes. FHWA and its contractor assumed that the product of the percent miles used off-road and the percent personal use would be a reasonable proxy of the probability that a truck would be used off-road for recreational purposes. Because light trucks travel both on road and off-road, the number of off-road recreational light trucks is counted in full vehicle equivalents (FVE). For example, if a vehicle is driven 30 percent of its annual miles off-road for recreational purposes, then the vehicle is counted as 0.30 of a full vehicle equivalent.

The 2002 VIUS data exhibited a significant decline in off-road light truck activity compared to the 1997 TIUS data. Under the category of Vehicular and Operational Characteristics and the subcategory Primary Range of Operation, Off-the-Road, the summary statistics comparing the 1997 and 2002 surveys showed a 61.3 percent drop in off-the-road operation mileage. See the 2002 Economic Census Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey at www.census.gov/prod/ec02/ec02tv-us.pdf (page 14); HTML: www.census.gov/svsd/www/vius/2002.html. Other factors, such as fuel economy and the number of light trucks registered in each State, also affect the total fuel use.

Correction of Light Truck Use Estimate

In late August 2011, the FHWA discovered an input error in the light truck vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) calculation. This error, multiplied by fuel economy and percentage of off-the-road use, had resulted in a significant underestimation of light truck use in FY 2009, 2010, and 2011. For the FY 2008 apportionments (using 2007 data), the VMT entry was 11,467 miles. For FY 2009 through 2011 (using 2008-2010 data), the VMT entry was about 1,100 miles, but should have been 11,100 to 11,500. The corrected entry for FY 2012 was 11,218 miles.

Original Calculation: The tables below show the values originally calculated for FY 2008 through 2012.

Vehicle Type 2007 Gallons Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use Est.
for FY 2008 RTP Apportionments
From 1997 TIUS
FY 2008 Percent 2008 Gallons Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use Est. for FY 2009 RTP Apportionments From 2002 VIUS FY 2009 Percent 2009 Gallons Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use Est. for FY 2010 RTP Apportionments From 2002 VIUS FY 2010 Percent
Light Truck 1,379,620,970 73.2 59,408,811 10.5 63,168,560 11
Off-Highway Motorcycle 184,380,900 9.8 184,380,900 32.5 184,380,900 32.2
All-Terrain Vehicle 173,426,400 9.2 173,426,400 30.5 173,818,865 30.3
Snowmobile 146,505,368 7.8 150,689,115 26.5 151,818,865 26.5
Total Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use 1,883,933,638 100 567,905,226 100 572,794,725 100

2010 Gallons Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use Est.
for FY 2011 RTP Apportionments
From 2002 VIUS
FY 2011 Percent 2011 Gallons Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use Est. for FY 2012 RTP Apportionments
Corrected 2002 VIUS
FY 2012 Percent
63,866,208 10.5 543,800,711 49.2
78,647,000 13 78,647,000 7.1
315,883,800 52 325,174,500 29.5
148,700,051 24.5 156,777,942 14.2
607,167,059 100 1,104,400,153 100

Correction: The table below shows the corrected values calculated for FY 2009 through 2011.

Vehicle Type 2008 Gallons Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use Est. for FY 2009 RTP Apportionments From 2002 VIUS Corrected FY 2009 Percent 2009 Gallons Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use Est. for FY 2010 RTP Apportionments From 2002 VIUS Corrected FY 2010 Percent 2010 Gallons Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use Est.
for FY 2011 RTP Apportionments
From 2002 VIUS Corrected
FY 2011 Percent
Light Truck 530,352,664 51.05% 548,617,756 51.90% 531,891,005 51.07%
Off-Highway Motorcycle 184,380,900 17.75% 184,380,900 17.44% 184,380,900 17.70%
All-Terrain Vehicle 173,426,400 16.69% 173,426,400 16.41% 173,426,400 16.65%
Snowmobile 150,689,115 14.51% 150,689,115 14.25% 151,818,865 14.58%
Total Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use 1,038,849,078 100% 1,057,114,171 100% 1,041,517,170 100%

Effect of the Correction on Apportionments to the States

The correction for light truck use meant that the share (not the amount) of nonhighway recreational fuel use attributable to off-highway motorcycles, all- terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles was lower. Light truck, off-highway motorcycle, and all-terrain vehicle uses are spread relatively evenly across the United States, but snowmobile use is concentrated in northern States. Therefore, the share of RTP apportionments for States with significant snowmobile use had been excessive in FY 2009 (with the effects continuing through FY 2012 under the authorization extensions), and southern States had been receiving insufficient RTP apportionments. After FHWA discovered the error, FHWA was required to correct the apportionments. This requirement is based on a ruling of the Comptroller General of the United States (B-145677, JULY 7, 1961, 41 COMP. GEN. 16).

Note: Because of the equity criteria under the Equity Bonus Program, in a correction, most States receiving lower RTP apportionments receive higher Equity Bonus funding, and most States receiving higher RTP apportionments receive lower Equity Bonus funding. However, this is not necessarily at a 1-to-1 ratio, and not true in all cases (such as States that do not receive Equity Bonus funding).

Nonhighway Recreational Fuel Use Effect on the Federal Highway Trust Fund

The primary purpose of the ORNL model (described above) was to distribute funds among the States. The model was not intended to be an estimate of actual national nonhighway recreational fuel use. At present, there is no reliable national model to calculate the actual amount of nonhighway recreational fuel use in the United States.

The ORNL report noted that the few States that had nonhighway recreational fuel use information available had used various methods to develop their estimates. Therefore, ORNL developed an independent model using national sources, rather than depending on varying methods from the States.

Some western States have estimated nonhighway recreational fuel use to distribute State funds received in State highway trust funds that would be attributable to nonhighway recreational fuel use. The State estimates, if summed and extrapolated, would result in a higher national figure than the ORNL estimate. Therefore, it is probable that the ORNL estimate is a low estimate of nonhighway recreational fuel use. Although the ORNL model is useful for distributing RTP funds among the States, it may not represent the actual total nonhighway recreational fuel use in the United States.

The Federal excise tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon. Of this, 2.86 cents goes to the Mass Transit account and 0.1 cents goes to the Leaking Underground Storage Trust fund. The Federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) receives 15.44 cents.

One of the original concepts for the Recreational Trails Program was that program should return a portion of HTF revenue attributable to nonhighway recreational fuel use to the trail users paying into the system.

Based on the 1997 TIUS, the HTF revenue attributable to nonhighway recreational fuel use for the FY 2008 apportionments was $290,879,354 (using 15.44 cents per gallon).

Based on the 2002 VIUS, with the incorrect input for light truck use, the HTF revenue attributable to nonhighway recreational fuel use as used for original (incorrect) apportionments in FY 2009 was $87,684,567; for FY 2010, $88,439,505; and for FY 2011, $93,746,594 (using 15.44 cents per gallon).

Based on the 2002 VIUS, with the corrected input for light truck use, the HTF revenue attributable to nonhighway recreational fuel use as used for revised apportionments for FY 2009 was $160,398,298; for FY 2010, $163,218,428; for FY 2011, $160,810,251; and for FY 2012, $170,519,384 (using 15.44 cents per gallon).

However, as noted above, this estimate is for the purpose of distributing funds to the States, and should not be considered a certain estimate of nonhighway recreational fuel use nationwide. It is probable that this is a low estimate of nonhighway recreational fuel use.

If you have further questions regarding the RTP, please contact Christopher B. Douwes at christopher.douwes@dot.gov, or at 202-366-5013.

Updated: 02/12/2014
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