Oregon's New Opt-In Mileage Tax Pilot

Interstate 5 from the Portland Aerial Tram

This week Oregon DOT (ODOT) announced the public trial of a proposed new mileage tax. They're calling it a Road Usage Charge Program and it will beging July1, 2015. They are looking for 5,000 volunteer drivers to launch the program, which will be trailblazing user-based fees like this. 

New funding structures for transportation are needed as it's not clear how much longer the federal gas tax will last, which is especially problematic given the depletion of the Highway Trust Fund. To cover the challenging gap between current funding and what is needed to maintaining the current U.S. transportation system, new finding models are emerging. Road pricing, often implemented as tolling, is a very common method. Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) based taxes are another user-based method which is being discussed nationally, though Oregon is the first state to take steps to implement such a tax. Critics of these methods argue that such taxes penalize fuel efficient vehicles, or that they are regressive taxes and social inequities must be accounted for. The equity question is currently a very active research topic.  

This past spring, a mileage tax for California drivers was introduced in the state Senate. SB-1077 was voted by the Senate and Assembly, and approved Governor Jerry Brown in September.