A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

OReGO update: It pays!

Written July 16th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
This wheel and its three colleagues covered 45 miles on July 14, OReGo reports.

This wheel and its three colleagues covered 45 miles on July 14, OReGo reports.

Well, this OReGo program could be a money maker — for me, if not for the state. And by “money” I mean a few pennies or fractions of pennies.

My truck is enrolled in Oregon’s mileage-tax program, the first of its kind in the nation. The program allows up to 5,000 volunteers to pay a road tax of 1.5 cents per mile they drive instead of the state gas tax of 30 cents a gallon.

This morning I got my first report in my online OReGO account, which keeps track of how much mileage tax I owe and how much gas tax the state will refund to me because I’ve already paid it at the pump.

The account shows that on July 14 the truck traveled 45.4 miles — funny how fast a trip to KGAL in Lebanon and a few errands add up — which consumed 2.47 gallons of fuel. The mileage total means that I owe the state $0.681 in road tax. But I also paid $0.741 in gas tax. So based on Tuesday’s driving, my account is 6 cents to the good.

That is not, obviously, what the state is shooting for with this program. Proponents of substituting a mileage fee for the fuels tax hope that in the long run it will allow road revenue not to drop but to increase, keeping pace with the use of the road system and the rising expense of keeping it up.

This also means that if and when the new system has proved its worth, it will have to become mandatory in order to work. If it’s not required of all vehicles, owners will sign up only those that get, shall we say, less than spectacular gas mileage, just like my good old truck. (hh)

10 responses to “OReGO update: It pays!”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    How does it determine you used 2.47 gallons of fuel?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Good question. I’ll try to nail down whether the MRD measures fuel consumption as well, or whether it applies the EPA mileage rating for the vehicle to the distance traveled. Either way, the result is so close to my experience (about 18 mpg) that I accept it as accurate. (hh)

    • Hasso Hering says:

      How does it determine fuel consumption? By EPA mileage averages or directly? I asked OReGO, and my account manager replied: “To calculate fuel consumption, we use both methods in the program, depending on the vehicle’s capability. If it is capable of providing real time fuel consumption, we use that over the EPA because it is more accurate. Fortunately your truck is capable of doing so, so it provides the fuel consumption information to us directly.”

  2. Rich Kellum says:


    Is the price per mile set in stone?? or can the state change it at their wim??

  3. Debbie Swenson says:

    It is my understanding that the lost revenue comes from reduced driving because of the high price of gas. That situation won’t change as the price of gas goes up again. With our law makers doing everything they can to tax and kill businesses in the state, the economy will never flourish and the situation may never improve.
    How can we trust them not to put other tracking devices in these devices unbeknown to us?
    How do we trust them to pay anything owed, when they are already trying to steal our kickers?
    The whole thing is suspect to me.

  4. Bobby says:

    It seems a bit strange to me that the legislature would experiment with discouraging fuel-saving vehicles. The cost to maintain the infrastructure is certainly a function of distance traveled and vehicle weight and not just gas consumed. But my (undereducated guess) is that fuel consumption is a better proxy for this than purely miles traveled. Even as efficiency increases, on average heavier vehicles will consume more fuel and do more damage to roads. A Ford F450 should pay more in taxes per mile than a Ford Fiesta.

    I appreciate that legislatures are going to tinker, and do what they can to obfuscate, rather than raises taxes. But if the program remains voluntary, it seems like it can only serve as a tax decrease. No Volt drivers are going to subscribe, so they’ll continue to receive a subsidy of road-tax-free driving. So it doesn’t seem to do much to increase dwindling funds for infrastructure, which I would assume is the ultimate point. Seems it would be a lot easier to just bump up the gas tax to make up for the efficiency losses.

  5. Bob Woods says:

    First, the legislature is not trying to discourage “fuel savings vehicles”. They are trying to stabilize income per vehicle since the advent of “high MPG” vehicles do not generate the revenue needed to take care of maintaining streets!

    Vehicle wear and tear is roughly proportionate to the miles traveled and the weight of the vehicles involved. Heavy trucks have paid a weight/mile tax for 50 years or more, Back when cars averaged 12 miles per gallon – no big deal. With a Prius getting 40+miles per gallon the income has gone down over the last decades, even though the maintenance costs increase.


    Folks, you want nice highways? You have to pay. Even if you want crummy highways, you have to pay.

    So quit blaming everyone else and step up to the plate and pay your fair share.

    Quit blaming “the government” because of what the real costs in the economy are.

    Ever buy some bottled water at the convenience store for $1:29 for 12 ounces? Well your government charges you around 1 cent for 2 gallons (256 ounces) out of your tap, delivered to your house 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Safe to drink.

    Wake up and smell the roses. Comcast charges you close to $100 a month or more. Verizion? $!50 a month for me and my wife. The relative costs you pay for your government services are a lot less and the reason is clear: Government does not charge for a profit margin.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Trucks may pay a weight/mileage tax, but they pay NO state fuel tax.

      For someone like me that uses 1 “unit” of water per month, my water cost is $21.92 for 748 gal. That’s about $.03/gal. $17.93 to be connected and $3.99 for the water.
      That’s 6 times “your” price.
      And then the sewer…….

      And as far as fuel tax. Ban studded tires and they wouldn’t need as much money!

      • Bob Woods says:

        At 1 unit per month, you are a rare customer. The average for folks was around 6 units per month. Because of the fixed vs. variable components the more water you use the lower the unit cost. Using your numbers, at 6 units per month the cost comes out to $17.93 + (6 X 3.99) = $41.87. 6 units is about 4,488 gallons. $41.87/4,488 = $.009 cents per gallon. Larger water users pay less.

        So about a penny per gallon. VERY cheap.


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