Successful test of mileage based user fee wraps up
The Road Usage Charge Pilot Program, which is testing a mileage based user fee with multiple options for collecting data and paying the user charge, has wrapped up its main phase, and the results are in.
“We’re pleased with how the pilot went,” said Jim Whitty, who leads ODOT’s efforts on the program. “We had an occasional technical issue, but overall the system worked very well, and users found it easy to use.”
The following key findings emerged from analysis of the pilot’s data:
·         Based on surveys and feedback by pilot participants, users regard the system as acceptable because it offers multiple reporting and payment choices, protects privacy and, above all, is easy to use. In particular, pilot participants found mileage reporting equipment easy to install; plan type selections were easy to make; and account management and bill payment were simple to complete.
·         The mileage-based road usage charge demonstrated in the RUCPP generated slightly more revenue than the fuel tax for participating vehicles. Mileage-based charges can generate more revenue from highly fuel efficient vehicles than the current gas tax generates from highly fuel efficient vehicles.
·         The RUCPP demonstrates that mileage reporting hardware is safe and resistant to tampering and fraud attempts.
·         The RUCPP system performs well on a number of other system criteria: it is feasible, accurate, reliable, secure, and open.
The evaluation team drew a number of conclusions from the results:
  1. The RUCPP to date appears to have met its objectives to demonstrate an easy-to-use mileage reporting and payment system replete with palatable choices administered in an open, interoperable fashion by multiple private sector vendors.
  2. Results suggest that a road usage charge with an open system is feasible, and a private market exists for the provision of a range of services related to road usage charge collection and administration.
  3. Giving participants a choice of road usage charging plans is possible and supports the success of the pilot based on participant feedback.
  4. The perception of user privacy appears to be improved when ODOT does not operate the mileage recording and tax processing systems.
  5. A rate of 1.56 cents per mile—equivalent to what a vehicle of average fuel efficiency pays in the state gas tax— was generally acceptable as a price point.
  6. A road usage charge is generally perceived as being equitable by the participants in the RUCPP.