The Oregon Road User Fee Task Force (RUFTF), as directed by the Oregon Legislature, adopted policies that authorized ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) to develop and deploy a RUCPP demonstration system in advance of the 2013 biennium legislative session. The primary goal of the RUCPP is a “feasibility validation” – to demonstrate to the RUFTF, legislators, and other stakeholders that the proposed Road Usage Charge (RUC) system goals and objectives can be achieved, that the system concepts and features are viable and valid, and that the vendor community has the ability and available technologies to provide and implement the system components required to operate an effective, efficient, and easy to use RUC system.
Current Pilot Project
This pilot will demonstrate the rudimentary features of a fully implemented RUC including mileage collection, road charge processing, and mileage tax accounting. The RUCPP will address many of the overall RUC goals:
choices for mileage collection (mileage counting device types)
an automated process for determining the amount of gas taxes paid and providing a credit
methods for protecting the motorist’s privacy
an actual “open” system that includes more than one vendor
Moreover, the RUCPP will be a “real” system (unlike previous demonstrations in the U.S.) in that Oregon participants will actually pay the mileage-based charge during the duration of the pilot, less any credits for fuel taxes paid. The RUCPP will be a multi-state operation. Participants from Washington and Nevada will have a different per-mile rate. (Washington and Nevada participants will receive illustrative billings but not actually pay their respective charges.)
It is envisioned that the fully implemented RUC system will offer even more choices for mileage collection and account management, with additional vendors providing these and other RUC components and services.
Another difference is in the types of vehicles included in the program. Nearly all types of vehicles are being included in the RUCPP, regardless of the type of power (e.g., electric, hybrid, internal combustion engine) or average gas mileage. The fully implemented RUC system will likely include only highly efficient vehicles – those that do not pay their fair share of fuel tax.
Finally, if implemented, the ultimate road usage charge system would need to address:
How the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV) can share registration information with the RUC system.
Compliance and enforcement activities
Security of data communications
A full-fledged mileage tax accounting subsystem including audits
Nationwide, Transportation Dollars are Dwindling
Much of the revenue required to preserve, maintain, modernize, and operate Oregon’s roadways comes from state and federal fuel taxes. The tax is based on the fuel consumed by motorists and, for most drivers, is paid directly at the pump as part of the gasoline purchase. The fuel tax was once an excellent surrogate for roadway usage. This no longer the case as fuel efficiency standards rise and the number highly fuel efficient vehicles, paying little or no tax, increases.
The users of these more fuel efficient vehicles are paying less fuel tax than earlier vehicle fleets for the same number of miles driven. As a result, fuel tax revenue has not kept up, even though the driving population has increased. This overall transportation funding gap – at both the state and federal levels – can only be expected to grow as the average fuel economy of the American vehicle fleet improves and as the emerging fleet of highly fuel efficient vehicles becomes larger.
The proposed road usage charge (RUC) is based on the number of miles driven, thereby providing a direct correlation between the vehicle’s use of the transportation network and the amount it pays to support the system. It helps to ensure that everyone using the roadway network pays their fair share.