The lack of funding for maintenance and expansion of current roads is severely lacking and both the state and federal legislatures know this, however they still can’t find the funding to keep roads vehicle-safe.
On July 1, approximately 5,000 Oregon drivers will start begin volunteering in a pay-by-mile program which will charge road users $0.015 per mile and refund any gas-taxes volunteers paid during their time in the pilot program.
Using OReGO’s website calculator, a person that travels an approximate 1,000 miles a month, around 30 miles a day, and has a vehicle that gets 28 miles per gallon would pay an approximate $10.71 in gas taxes and $15 through the pay by mile system.
The system would start requiring hybrids and electric cars to pay their fair share for road-usage.
“Cars are getting better gas mileage. We’re having hybrids and electric cars,” said ODOT’s Tom Fuller in an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting. “They’re not paying much at all in the gas tax that helps make Oregon’s roads safe and efficient.”
One of the most controversial components of the program has been the GPS-enabled odometer tracking device, which is able to also track where each vehicle moves and when.
“The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has some very strict policies and procedures in place to ensure the security and privacy of information collected by the Department and account managers,” OReGO’s website reads.
After backlash from pro-privacy groups and individuals, the program offers a non-GPS enabled system to pay the mileage, however the program still has some drawbacks.
Using a GPS-enabled model, out-of-state mileage can be deducted from a driver’s bill. The organizations that would work with the GPS-enabled models, Azuga and Verizon Telematics, offer added services for the pre- or post-pay, GPS-enabled systems, such as information for drivers that may help them improve driving and safe money on insurance.
Non-GPS enabled options will not reimburse drivers for out-of-state driving and will not come with other benefits. However, it will offer drivers concerned about the government tracking their location peace of mind in this matter.
While this option is already being tested in Oregon, it’s already taking shape in Washington, too.
From 2005 to 2006, 275 drivers and vehicles volunteered in a testing program within the Puget Sound using GPS-enabled, on-board devices to measure distance traveled and which zone they traveled within, as charges and fees vary by location driven. Congestion, such as within the city, would be a factor in deciding final fees.
Similarly to Oregon, Washington State would offer two choices of on-board mileage, both GPS- enabled and non-GPS enabled, with the GPS-enabled on only reporting public roads, not all roads.
The “acceptable … price point”, according to a 2013 study for WSDOT, was $0.0187 per mile and is equal to what a 20 mpg vehicle currently pays in gas taxes.
While one may or may not agree with the pay-by-mile system, it seems to be heading down the road.