April 8


Mileage Based Tax in Oregon

By Mike Spack

April 8, 2009

Gas pump old
Micah Heckman of Lancaster Engineering in Portland, Oregon

(Thanks Micah) –

attended a luncheon yesterday in which the presentation focused on Oregon's efforts to
implement a mileage tax.  The presentation was very informative and was
well prepared.  I don’t have a handout of the slides used in the
presentation but here is a quick overview based on a coworker’s and my
recollection of the presentation.

has completed a pilot program in which 20 vehicles were equipped with a GPS
unit that determined the mileage driven by that vehicle.  The speaker
addressed concerns that the unit could be used to track the vehicle by noting
the unit only receives data from a satellite and does not send any information.
 The GPS receiver is set up in such a way that the State of Oregon is one zone and
anywhere out of the State is a second zone.  Therefore, drivers would only
be taxed for miles driven within the State.  In the pilot program they
also programmed the receivers to record the number of miles driven during rush
hour which could be used for congestion pricing.  

speaker also addressed the issue of “winners” and “losers”, “winners” being
those individuals that currently drive inefficient vehicles and “losers” being
those individuals that currently drive fuel-efficient vehicles.  In order
to address this issue, the speaker mentioned that the mileage tax does not
necessarily need to be a flat rate.  An adjustment factor could be used
for vehicles based on their fuel-efficiency.  

the pilot program was a success.  One of the major drawbacks is the
difficulty with retrofitting the device.  Therefore, if the program were
adopted, it may only be implemented for new vehicles while older vehicles are
still subject to the gas tax.  Out-of-state drivers would also be subject
to gas tax.  The speaker did stress that the implementation would be much
smoother if it were implemented Nationwide.  Based on the work that has
been done and what needs to be done, a timeline of 15 to 20 years before implementation
is a realistic expectation.

have included a link to ODOT’s webpage which includes some information on the
pilot program as well as a final report.  I have not had time to review
the report but hope to find time soon.  It sounds like Minnesota is the next State ready for a
pilot program so hopefully they can also gain some valuable knowledge on the



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Mike Spack

My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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