The future is arriving …


For a decade, Oregon has been the undisputed leader in pursuing the idea of taxing drivers not on the amount of fuel they buy but on the number of miles they drive. Starting this summer, though, the Beaver State will get some company: California plans to launch a nine-month experiment in July to test out different ways of charging by the mile. …

Under California’s trial, drivers will get to choose how to keep track of the miles they drive, either by buying a decal for an allotment of miles or using GPS-enabled systems to tally them. That’s more options than Oregon offers its drivers under its mileage tax program, which launched last summer.

Oregon began looking at using a vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) tax 15 years ago. It conducted two pilot projects in the last decade before launching OReGO last summer. The new program allows drivers to pay 1.5 cents per mile driven, instead of the state’s 30-cent per gallon fuel tax. Participants still pay the fuel tax at the pump, but the amount is credited against their bill for mileage taxes.

Two outside vendors keep track of the mileage each vehicle travels, bill customers and send the fees to the state. The arrangement is designed to protect the privacy of the drivers by preventing the state from knowing where vehicles have traveled, their speed and other driving behavior. The companies also offer other features, such as fuel efficiency monitoring, to attract participants.

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