By Governor Kate Brown
Oregon is once again demonstrating its innovative and independent spirit, exploring the concept of a per-mile charge as a way to pay for the transportation system we all share.
In 1919, Oregon was the first state in the nation to pass a gas tax to build new roads in order to “get Oregon out of the mud.” Oregon is again leading the way by studying the viability of a per-mile charge as a possible way to pay for transportation infrastructure.
We need your help. Beginning July 1 2015, the Oregon Department of Transportation will test-drive a new idea: OReGO. We are looking for 5,000 volunteers willing to pay-as-they-go: participants would pay their share of tax revenue for road and bridge maintenance based on the miles they drive, and get a credit for gas taxes paid at the pump. High fuel efficiency vehicles pay a little more, low efficiency vehicles actually pay less with OReGO.
OReGO is a unique public-private partnership. ODOT does not track where you drive. You connect with private companies like Azuga and Verizon Telematics. They supply a secure device that collects information about the miles you drive. You decide whether to allow tracking of locations. Then you pay the OReGO mileage fee through the company. In return, some of our vendors offer some pretty exciting incentives like the ability to score your driving and find where you’ve parked.
High fuel efficient vehicles are paying less and less in fuel tax, even if they use roads and bridges the same as other vehicles. Some, like electric vehicles, pay nothing at all. With OReGO, everyone pays based on miles, not gallons, which is more equitable.
It’s a first-in-the-nation idea—and lots of other states and countries will be watching our experiment. ODOT will gather information on how the system works and how Oregonians feel about it, and then use that to inform a robust legislative discussion in an upcoming session.
This pilot program will help Oregon consider better and more equitable ways to keep our transportation system safe, well-maintained and user-friendly.
I think this idea is worth your consideration. Learn about OReGO; try it for a month, two months—even six months. Then tell us about your experience. Help us determine how best to maintain the roads and bridges we all depend on.
Innovation has always been a part of Oregon’s character, with the first gas tax, the bottle bill, and our public beaches. Here’s another opportunity to demonstrate that Oregon’s pioneering spirit is alive and well.
Volunteer for OReGO
Oregon is the first state in the U.S. to adopt a road usage charge program. We’re starting with just 5,000 volunteers who will get to experience OReGO first and bolster public understanding of this new and innovative way to pay for our transportation system needs. Volunteers will pay a per-mile fee of 1.5 cents instead of the traditional fuel tax, and will receive a tax credit for fuel used.
How to Volunteer for OReGO
ODOT will evaluate vehicles for participation in OReGO based on the following legislative requirements:
• No more than 5,000 cars and light-duty trucks may participate in
OReGO on July 1.
• No more than 1,500 vehicles rated at less than 17 mpg.
• No more than 1,500 vehicles rated from 17 to less than 22 mpg.
If you are an Oregonian ready to make history, please join the interest list online http://www.myorego.org/about/interest-list/ or text ORE GO to 468311. While we can only enroll 5,000 qualified vehicles initially, and not everyone is guaranteed a spot, we anticipate future opportunities for more volunteers.
What payment options will be available?
ODOT has partnered with private vendors to manage volunteers’ OReGO accounts, and to also provide an ODOT-sponsored option. Volunteers will select a mileage reporting device and service plan that works best for them.