PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon's new pay-by-the-mile road usage charge program, OReGO, took a big step forward Monday, as state officials announced that three private business partners are now technically certified to manage accounts and collect road user fees from those accounts for deposit into the State Highway Fund.
"Oregon is pioneering the nation's first pay-by-the-mile road usage charge system. We now have three trusted private partners on board — Azuga, Sanef and Verizon Telematics — that Oregonians can choose from when they volunteer to enroll their vehicles in OReGO," said Jim Whitty, manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation's Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding.
"It's a huge step for Oregon and the nation."
Participants in OReGO, which launches July 1, are volunteering for the program and will be charged a per mile fee, then either receive a credit or a bill for the difference in gas taxes paid at the pump.
Several states — including Washington, California, Idaho, Colorado and others — are considering similar pay-by-the-mile road usage charge systems.
Oregon has already conducted two pilot projects to test road usage charging, which led the 2013 Legislature to create the OReGO program and launch it statewide with up to 5,000 volunteer vehicle owners starting in July. Anyone interested in learning more about the program or potentially participating is encouraged to join the interest list at www.myOReGO.org.
"This is the wave of the future," Whitty said. "We've got to find a more sustainable and fair way to fund highway maintenance and new construction or our economy will suffer as our roads get more crowded and less safe."
New cars have never been more fuel-efficient and more drivers are turning to hybrid and all-electric vehicles. That's great for the environment and your pocketbook, but it also means Oregon's fuel tax revenue keeps shrinking, leaving less available each year for highway maintenance and construction.
It led Oregon decision-makers back to the drawing board to create a fair, sustainable source of revenue to fund transportation projects for all Oregonians. The result is OReGO. Here are the details:
- Beginning July 1, OReGO volunteer drivers will pay a road usage charge for the amount of miles they drive, instead of the fuel tax.
- The OReGO road usage charge is set at 1.5 cents per mile.
- Drivers will get a credit on their bill to offset the fuel tax they pay at the pump.
- Drivers will have their choice of secure mileage reporting options offered by OReGO's trusted private-sector partners, Azuga, Sanef and Verizon Telematics.
- Drivers' personal information will be kept secure and private.
- Currently, OReGO is limited to 5,000 cars and light-duty commercial vehicles registered to volunteer participants.
Whitty announced the OReGO private partners Monday at the annual Transportation Finance & Road Usage Charging Conference held by the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association at The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland. The conference brought together the nation's leading engineers, transportation experts and government leaders to explore innovative ways to fund America's transportation infrastructure.