A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

OReGO update: Where did miles go?

Written August 4th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
Only 37 miles from Albany to the Yachats Farmers' Market? Not really.

Only 37 miles from Albany to the Yachats Farmers’ Market? Not really.

So how’s it going with OReGO, the state’s volunteer program of charging a mileage fee instead of the gasoline tax to pay for highway programs? It could use more volunteers, for one thing. For another, there may be technical issues to iron out.

The 2013 legislature authorized the program to show how it might work on a large scale to charge vehicle owners and drivers by the miles they drive.  Up to 5,000 vehicles can take part. The program began July 1, and after one month, 801 vehicles had been signed up. So, as ODOT’s Michelle Godfrey told me Tuesday, there’s a lot of work to be done to build both awareness of the program’s existence and confidence that it works.

You can sign up by going online and looking for OReGO. It works this way: A mileage recording device (MRD) you plug into your vehicle measures how far you drive and how much fuel you use. It reports this information to the ODOT vendor you chose when you signed up, and an online account keeps track of the mileage fees you owe — at 1.5 cents per mile — versus how much credit you get for the gas tax you paid.

On Saturday we drove to the coast, with a side trip outside Philomath, but the device registered only 38.6 miles. For the return trip two days later, on the same road but without the detour, the mileage total was 76.6 miles. How come?

One possibility is that spotty cell phone coverage along Highway 34 caused some of the miles to be ignored. But as I understand it, the device would have stored the distance and downloaded it once it was again in range of a cell tower. So a more likely possibility is that I somehow jarred loose the MRD.

This is possible because in my truck the gizmo is mounted under the dash within an inch or two of the parking brake, and I may have inadvertently kicked it when my left foot was fumbling for the brake. I’m waiting for more information on that from the technical people at Sanef, the vendor keeping track of my device. Preliminary conclusion for the benefit of ODOT when the program is evaluated: Consider where the MRD should be mounted so it can’t be kicked loose.

In the meantime, though, my account shows that I’ve paid more in gas tax than I owe in mileage fees since first plugging in the MRD. I’m owed a refund so far of $1.53. (hh)

4 responses to “OReGO update: Where did miles go?”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    Maybe the “Cover Oregon” people now work for ODOT?

  2. Shawn Dawson says:

    Good for you Hasso, for helping to figure out the system.

    Can you explain how they calculate or track the gas tax refund? Is this based on actual gas purchased (do you keep the receipts or something)? Is it based on an assumed MPG for your type of car?

    Would the plan in the future be that gas stations have a ‘tax free’ pump for folks with cars that are paying by the mile, or would it be based on whatever is being done now, where one pays up front and then receives a refund?


    • Hasso Hering says:

      Thanks for the question, Shawn. When I asked about this, OReGo told me that the device installed on my truck is capable of measuring fuel consumption directly, though how it does that I don’t know. On vehicles where this is not possible, they use EPA mileage estimates for the particular vehicle. I’m not sure they have completely thought out how this system will work in the future if it is indeed adopted. (hh)

      • Bob Woods says:

        The port you plug it into is the data access port to the vehicle computer. Car technicians use the same port to diagnose and check the car status. That’s where the fuel consumption information comes from. Most cars now continually monitor it.

        There will be glitches for sure. That’s why it’s a testing program. People like you are a great help.


HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany Carousel Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal Andy Olson Benton County Benton County parks bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park Calapooia River CARA City of Albany climate change coronavirus COVID-19 Cox Creek path Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path Daylight saving time DEQ downtown Albany Edgewater Village global warming gun control Highway 20 Interstate 5 Kitzhaber Linn County marijuana medical marijuana Millersburg North Albany Road Obama ODOT Oregon coast Oregon legislature Oregon passenger rail Pacific Power Portland & Western Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Willamette River

Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering