The Oregon Department of Transportation plans to launch a voluntary program statewide to test the pay-per-mile road tax. The first phase, which will include 5,000 Oregon drivers, is slated to start July 1.
Participants will pay 1.5 cents per mile while driving on public streets and highways. They’ll be monitored on how many miles they drive, how much fuel they buy at Oregon gas stations and how much they pay in fuel tax. Then, drivers will get a bill. ODOT will send rebate checks to offset money spent on gas tax.
The state is pursuing the program because gas tax revenues are starting to lag behind road maintenance costs in the state.
Volunteers will choose between an odometer reading or GPS monitoring via smartphones to track their miles. Annually, you’d pay about $210 if you’re traveling 14,000 miles a year.
The program is meant to loop in those fuel efficient and electric cars whose drivers have been skipping out on the gas tax. The rate will eventually be adjusted for vehicles that would be putting more wear on the roads, like heavy trucks or cars driving during rush-hour. There will be some bugs to work out as well, such as how to deal with the road wear done by out-of-state drivers.
The big experiment will determine how the program will work on a larger scale and give transportation officials an idea if the program should be used at all.
The Oregonian reports that the program is some 12 years in the making with the Legislature only passing Senate Bill 810, also known as the “Road Usage Charge Program,” last year.