Oregon Voluntary VMT Bill Heads to Governor after Passage by Legislature

AASHTO Journal, 12 July 2013

Oregon may soon become the first state to open to the public a voluntary mileage-based user fee system in lieu of a state fuel excise tax after both the state House and Senate passed a bill to allow up to 5,000 drivers the option of trying the system out. The passage comes after the implementation of two pilot programs by the Oregon Department of Transportation through the last decade to test the technology.

The recently-passed bill, SB 810, would allow up to 5,000 participants to pay 1.5 cents for every mile they drive and in turn be refunded the state gas tax they pay at the pump (which currently stands at 30 cents per gallon).

ODOT had conducted multiple mileage-based user fee pilot programs, the most recent of which began in November 2012 (see related AASHTO Journal story here). ODOT officials focused on “choice, transparency, ease of use, and protection of privacy” for the most recent pilot.

“People want choices, so for this pilot, participants are choosing from several options for reporting and paying their bill,” said ODOT Office of Innovative Partnerships Manager Jim Whitty when launching that pilot. “ODOT won’t make the choices for technologies—the participants will do that.”

The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association released a statement immediately after the bill’s passage in the Oregon legislature.

“[This bill’s passage is] a major victory for alternative forms of transportation funding across the country at both the state and federal level,” said IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Patrick Jones. “By the passage of this historic legislation paving the way for a voluntary road user charge system, Oregon has lived up to its pioneer history and established a new frontier in transportation funding.”

SB 810 is now awaiting the signature of Gov. John Kitzhaber.

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