We’re 1 Year Old!

We’re 1 Year Old!

August 9, 2016

Greetings from OReGO!

On July 1, 2016, OReGO entered its second year of program operations. There is no set end date and we’re still learning a great deal by operating the program, which is helping us improve and grow. We hope to continue that trend well into the future!

Want to know what our OReGO volunteers have been up to? Enjoy this infographic to learn more (click for a larger version).

Thank you for your ongoing interest in the OReGO program and we hope you enjoy this “Year in Review”. If you have questions, contact us at MyOReGO@odot.state.or.us.

All the best,

The OReGO Team

19 thoughts on “We’re 1 Year Old!

  1. I’ve enjoyed being a volunteer in the program, but I’ve been thinking about the types of behaviors that a pay-by-the-mile system would incentivize. It seems right to me that those who burn more fuel pay more in tax – we want incentives for people to drive cleaner vehicles. But if a Prius pays the same amount as a Hummer H2, haven’t we lost those incentives? Also the heavier vehicles wear out the roads faster than lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles, so should operators of bigger vehicles pay more? I’m wondering if anyone else is thinking about these issues. Seems to me that the full impact a vehicle has on the road and on the environment should be considered when deciding how much the operator should pay. Thanks.

    • The difference in the wear and tear on highway systems caused by a Toyota Prius versus a Ford F-250 (since the program has a lot of those but not Hummers) is really vanishingly small. It is only the >20,000 lbs. GVW vehicles that do damage based on their weight (again, speaking of highways not neighborhood streets or driveways). This damage arises from the deformation that the really heavy vehicles produce as they roll down the road. Neither a 1.5 ton Toyota Prius nor a 3 ton Ford F-250 weigh enough to cause the kind of deformation that whittles away at the life span of the pavement structure. The simple abrasion wear produced by the two (assuming no studded tires) is minuscule to the point of be inconsequential.

      It is also important to remember that a significant part of the maintenance costs for the highways system is independent of abrasion of the pavement (that being the only area where the two vehicles differs, even if only a little). Vegetation control, signs, culvert and bridge corrosion, weathering of the asphalt cement, snow removal, debris sweeping, incident response etc. are all independent of the vehicle size and should arguably be shared equally by the Toyota Prius and the Ford F-250.

      Finally, don’t forget that the Ford F-250 will always be paying a big penalty at the pump for getting 12 mpg compared to the Toyota Prius’ 50 mpg. A 40 gallon fill-up (those crew-cab F-250s hold 48 gallons!) compared to a 10 gallon fill-up will always hit the Ford F-250 owner much harder in the wallet, gas tax or not.

  2. Peter,

    An 18-wheeler puts a lot more wear-and-tear on the road than a car, but a Hummer doesn’t put more wear-and-tear than a Prius. Prius owners get rewarded when they buy less fuel, but I think the amount we pay for roads should be proportional to the road use and wear-and-tear, not fuel. Otherwise, we end up in the same situation we are now, where gas taxes don’t cover costs because more fuel-efficient cars are paying less tax but still using the roads.

    • Hi Randal: Your claim that cars don’t damage roads – only large trucks do – is apparently backed by experts, but I don’t accept it. A Prius that weighs 3000 lbs does about two times less damage to a road than a Hummer H2 (6600 lbs). But leaving aside that point for the moment, we are in the situation we’re in right now b/c gas taxes haven’t kept up with the cost of our transportation infrastructure. The pay-by-the-mile approach seeks to force owners of more fuel-efficient cars to pay MORE relative to what they are currently paying – a situation they will never accept. So why not simply raise the current gas tax? Then Prius owners will pay more, but so will Hummer owners. The costs will be borne proportionally. But if you say, “All of you environmentally conscientious Prius owners need to pay more so Hummer drivers can pay less,” no one is going to go for that. I know gas taxes are not popular and there is no political will to raise them, but making Prius owners pay more under a new system seems like a sneaky way of raising tax revenue on the backs of those who are already paying more to do the right thing.

      • I didn’t say cars don’t damage roads. I said a Prius causes as much wear-and-tear as a Hummer, and–as you say–the experts agree, so I don’t know what the argument is about.

        One of the things I’ve learned as a volunteer is how little of money money goes for roads. My car gets 30 mpg, so I am paying more than if I paid gas taxes, but it is still insignificant.

        When I pay for a seat in a movie theater or an airplane, I pay the same weather I weigh 100 pounds or 300. You can say that’s unfair, but most of the cost to the theater or airline is the seat, not the fuel, so it really is fair. In the same way, when you pay to use a road, you are paying for the road space, and a Prius uses about as much space as a Hummer, so it is fair that they should pay the same.

        At the extreme, Teslas and other electric vehicles use no fuel but just as much space as other cars, so they should pay as much. If the government really wants to encourage fuel-efficient vehicles, it can do that with tax credits.

  3. The reason a Prius and an F150 do the same damage approximately to the roads is because of physics: force (to the road) equals the mass (of the vehicle) times area (of the tires contact surface). A Prius and F150 generally run their tires at about 30-35 psi pressure, so a heavier vehicle uses bigger tires to impart the same force to the road as a lighter car with smaller tires. Tractor Trailers are a whole different animal. Their tires are inflated at about 95-105 PSI because they simply cannot make a tire big enough to distribute the weight like a car/light truck. This means that the force the exert on the road is a whole lot more. Same analogy is why an elephant can walk across a floor and not break it: the force is small because the elephants feet are huge while they still are very heavy animals. If that weren’t true, they would be stuck in the mud or soft ground all the time and would be extinct by now.

    I too agree that the mileage is the way to tax people. We are paying for the service of using the road, just like paying for a movie seat as the other posted, so we should pay the same. Once you reach the tipping point where weight is a factor, then I would add that into the tax. I also think bicycles should pay too! Yep, we put a whole lot of money into paving the roads and making bike lanes, so I think they should chip in too. I also agree that driving a more fuel efficient vehicle is better for the environment and Prius drivers are rewarded for their actions at the pump (as mentioned previously).

  4. Delores Porch says:

    One thing that I think needs to be considered is even though I think that it’s a good idea to charge by the mile for extra needed income it can be a huge burden on those that MUST travel longer distances to employment. I live in a small city in the valley but work 25 miles away. I know many people who travel greater distances to their workplace. Not everyone can afford a hybrid or electric car. Thankfully I drive a 2015 Subaru Forester that gets an average of 30-35 mpg. I’m only paying $6-$7 more a month in this program. I agree that the Prius should pay the same as the Hummer for roads. The Prius gets to thumb their nose at the oil companies.

  5. A few things I’ve noticed/question —

    Seems the pay per mile tax really is only about paying for road use, not creating incentives for fuel efficiency. I realized in this pilot program I no longer pay tax on the fuel I use to warm up my vehicle on winter mornings or fuel used idling at stoplights or sitting in traffic.

    I’ve heard the heavy trucks (semi, log, dump, etc) already pay an additional road or fuel tax. Is that the case? And does it go to Oregon or is it a federal fuel tax?

    I’ve also read that the vendors for this pilot program receive a large portion of the tax — 40 cents of every dollar. Is that true? Do other entities besides the state of Oregon and the federal government receive a portion of the current gas tax? If so, I’m curious what the breakout is.

    And do the program mangers have any idea as to why the participation is so low (only 1025 of us!), particularly in the rural counties of Oregon (where I would assume many people would be receiving rebates if they chose to participate…)?

  6. Hunter Wylie says:

    I believe here are some facts about road usage, gas tax revenues, new road construction and road maintenance costs that have to be part of this discussion. I will remove heavy commercial trucks from this discussion because it deserves a separate detailed discussion.
    Facts:
    1. Oregon roads are paid for by Federal and State funds collected through fuel taxes paid per gallon.
    We pay 30 cents per gallon total for gasoline, gasohol or diesel we buy. In Washington it is 37.5 cents per gallon.
    2. The higher the miles per gallon out vehicles get the less road taxes the State collects for each mile we drive.
    3. Fuel taxes, with the exception of gasohol, have not increased since the 1990’s
    4. All road maintenance and new construction is paid for by these taxes and are subject to any increased costs associated with wages, materials, cost of land, etc.
    5. Oregon can’t afford to build new roads because it doesn’t have enough money to adequately maintain the ones we have, much less new ones.
    6. As fuel prices decline or vehicle miles per gallon go up everyone drives more.
    7. Whether your vehicle gets 63 mph gallon or 13 miles per gallon we all use the same roads, hit the same pot holes and encounter the same traffic problems. With the exception of heavy trucks all cars and small trucks have about the same impact on road wear.
    8. The only way to fix the problems is to “collect more revenue” because there is no no extra money and we all have to pay! There are NO alternatives.

    • Recall that everyone is predicting that hundreds of thousands of car drivers will be moving to Oregon every year – ask METRO; they have been adamant about this for decades.
      The taxes these new Oregonians will pay should cover the “shortfall”.

      • Hunter Wylie says:

        Not really. Road wear is proportional to use. The more use, the faster roads wear out, We are not covering our existing costs ( road maintenance, new roads, etc.) and gas tax revenues are going down as our MPG goes up.

        Today, there are about 3.2 million registered passenger vehicles in Oregon which are under funding our road system. Adding the additional hundreds of thousands vehicles you mentioned will not fund/fix anything. This is because each additional vehicle causes an incremental amount of wear and tear on our road systems without providing sufficient funding. If we have no new roads we get even faster system wear and more traffic jams. These additional futures vehicles, you mention, will only increase the under funding at a rate greater than today because future vehicles will have greater fuel efficiency, buy less gasoline and will travel more on the road system. Bottom line there is no free lunch we need to increase our road taxes through various means.. I believe we all should have a base rate we pay, like vehicle registration fees, and a fee for each mile driven. Both should vary annually with the actual costs of achieving our transportation needs/goals. The solution will not be simple and will require our legislature and voters to face the facts. The nice thing about having good transportation systems is each of us gets to realize the benefits personally.

  7. I live in Tigard but work near Camas, WA. I drive an F-150 commuting 5 days per week.
    Since approx. half of my miles are in Washington I pay no tax on those miles, nor can Washington account for and asses taxes for in-state miles.

    But wait, I buy my gas at Costco in Washington…hmmmmmmm

    So far, I have saved nearly $80 in Oregon assessed taxes for this year. I have been driving this route since Sept of 2011 – lets talk about refunding taxes for those years – $400. That’s what I thought.

    • Hunter Wylie says:

      The nice thing about our interstate road systems is what you are describing works for all the people in our neighboring states too. It averages out. Believe it or not it even works with deposits bottle deposits paid in Washington and cashed in in Oregon.

  8. Peter Burnham says:

    This program is wasteful!
    1. The fuel tax encourages high mileage choices
    2. The fuel tax is not raising enough revenue because more people are driving high mile cars. And these cars came with tax incentives! In a way the government is fighting with itself by distributing incentives then attempting to collect more through this needlessly complex scheme.

    Solutions:
    1. Raise the fuel tax
    2. Add a small road tax fee onto electric car registrations
    3. Ensure that all money collected in fuel tax goes to Roads and ODOT

    Reasons to reject OReGO
    1. Vendor fees will extract from the total tax collected
    2. You privacy in transport is lost. Remember, even if this thing is never hacked, ANY INFORMATION can be extracted with a subpoena. The best defense is not having the travel records collected.
    3. All the overhead, collection methods are already exist for the fuel tax and have been in place for decades. No need to change anything.

    Peter in Sisters

  9. It seems like this program is a devastating failure. Thank goodness. I can only hope it gets de-funded soon. Then we can stop paying for office space like it seems we have stopped paying for commercials. In the future, government employee, know that anything the government advertises and wants people to sign up for will always sound like a terrible idea, especially when it comes to such a simple subject as this. It amazes me that the government can take such a simple tax method like a gas tax and somehow think that isn’t working right. What kind of moron would install a tracker in his car? Is there even 1,000 people that signed up for this?

    • Michelle Godfrey
      Michelle Godfrey says:

      Thanks for weighing in, Devon. The OReGO program is first in the nation to fully test a per-mile charge that could replace the gas tax for participating drivers. We are making people aware of the test and encouraging them to sign up so we can learn everything we can about how the system would work should the Legislature decide to move forward with it. The more people who participate, the more experience we will have to make confident decisions about the future of transportation funding. Your comments, and everyone’s here, will contribute to that decision making…so, thank you!

      The problem, though, continues to worsen. The gas tax, in light of fuel efficiency, simply cannot make up the increasing gap between drivers’ use of the road and their contribution toward its funding. We talk about that quite a bit on our FAQ page, but in a nutshell: as vehicle fuel efficiency increases over time, fuel tax revenue for maintaining roads declines. All the while, inflation is increasing maintenance costs. OReGO is one option that could resolve this funding dilemma to keep Oregon roads safe and efficient.

  10. Peter Burnham says:

    This entire discussion is very disappointing and most of the people here are missing the point. 1. The fuel tax is perfect. It exists, has no meaningful collection overhead, encourages efficient choices and does not suffer from privacy, cost of implementation or resistance issues. If it is true that all the fuel tax collected goes to the roads, (it does not) and if it is true that not enough revenue is being raised then raise the fuel tax. 2. Introducing an alternative tax scheme in the form of OReGO, that has substantial overhead, an up hill battle for acceptance, that does not encourage efficient behavior is absurd. 3. Fairness has nothing to do with it! It’s revenue for roads. 4. The federal and state governments have for years been subsidizing hybrid and now electric cars. $7500 federal tax revenue is forgiven for an electric car. In Washington State, Sales tax is forgiven on electric cars. It’s been this way for five years. There was an incentive for hybrid cars before that. And now, there is a concern over fuel tax revenue shortfall because of electric, hybrid, and high mileage cars? That is ridiculous! The government has become so big in this that it is at odds with itself!

    This is very simple. Raise the fuel tax if you must, put a fuel tax equivalent on electric car registrations and be done with it. Once we put tracking devices in our cars, we may as well have a travel chip stuck on your head. This opens a whole level of tracking that is not needed and will expand once precedent is set. And the solution is so easy.

    And BTW, Studded tires, road time in service and big big trucks wear roads out. If this was about road wear we would be charging $200 at Les Schawb when people install studs. The discussion of pickup trucks vs eco cars with regard to road wear is a red herring. Don;t get pulled into discussions of fairness. It’s revenue and revenue only.

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