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Think Out Loud

Gas Tax Alternative

Pete Springer/OPB

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has a new pilot program to create a way to tax drivers of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Gas tax revenue has decreased as more drivers choose fuel-efficient vehicles or electric cars that don’t use gas at all. Oregon and other states have been looking at ways to charge people for road usage based on the miles they travel rather than how much gas they buy. 

ODOT scrapped a similar pilot program in 2009 because its dependence on a GPS device raised the hackles of privacy advocates. The new system would offer a GPS option if drivers choose to track their mileage with their cell phones. But they can also choose other types of devices like those used by pay-as-you-drive insurance companies that sync with a car’s odometer and don’t use GPS at all.

Do you drive an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid? What’s your take on these possible alternatives to the gas tax?


  • James Whitty: Manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding and leader of the Road Usage Charge pilot program at ODOT
  • Eric Herzik: Chair of the political science department at The University of Nevada Reno and principal investigator on the Vehicle Miles Traveled Pilot Project Study
  • John Christian: Chair of the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association

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