Oregon DOT testing new ways to enable pay-per-mile road user charging

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Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), one of the world leaders in pay-per-mile road user charging has announced it is using a federal grant to test new ways to evolve the state’s pay-per-mile system, OReGO.

Portland-area drivers are being recruited now through early February to participate in OReGO’s Local Road Usage Charge Pilot. Participating drivers will collect data for three potential funding models:

• Area-boundary pricing: Time-of-day road charge pricing within the Portland Metro area.
• Layer-area pricing sub-pilot: Time-of-day road charge pricing in two overlapping areas, such as a city and a county. In this pilot, testing will occur within Portland and Multnomah County.
• Corridor pricing sub-pilot: Time-of day road charge pricing on specific highway corridors within the Portland Metro area.

Study participants can earn up to US$450 if they plug a device into their vehicle (OBD-II port), drive that vehicle around the Portland Metro area, and answer questions about their experience. A survey will determine participants’ eligibility for the study through February 2021. All participant data is protected and confidential.

The pilot will continue through late summer. ODOT will report the data and feedback collected through the pilot to the Oregon Legislature and the Federal Highway Administration.

The Oregon Legislature identified the downward trend in transportation funding in 2001 and established Oregon’s Road User Fee Task Force to investigate alternatives to the traditional gas tax. With its direction, ODOT designed and conducted pilot programs in 2006 and 2013 to test a per-mile charging system. The fully operational and voluntary system, named OReGO, launched in 2015 and was the first of its kind in the nation.

By law, Oregon’s Road Usage Charge Program offers drivers choices for the technologies they use to report miles driven as well as how they manage and pay their road usage charges. They can obtain services through private sector account managers with market-driven options that are efficient and cost-effective.

Taking Oregon’s lead, many other states are considering charging by the mile, and members of Congress are exploring taking the approach national. As the leader in road usage charging, Oregon is working to improve the system by exploring new technologies like those in the Local RUC Pilot, and leading a coalition of western states that is working through how this system could operate across state lines, so out-of-state travelers would pay their fair share to use Oregon’s roads.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).