Category: ODOT

  • ODOT to launch VMT pilot program in the fall

    Laura Bollen-Lopez of The Oregonian reports that ODOT is planning to test a new Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT) program in the fall. VMT is a tax levied on the number of miles a vehicle drives, independent of fuel consumption, weight, or other factors which are captured (somewhat) by fuel taxes or weight-mile taxes. The pilot project, which will involve automobiles driven by various public officials in Salem, involves various tracking devices which would be installed in cars. One option includes a GPS-powered device that would only charge for miles driven on public roads in the state; out-of-state miles and miles driven on private property would not count. Another device, without GPS, would simply detect car movement and charge based on that (presumably at a lower rate; it’s not clear whether the unit counts miles if the car is towed). An earlier pilot program met with some resistance, in large part due to privacy issues. To address that this time, commercial hardware is being used rather than government-provided devices. The stated purpose of the program is to respond to the loss of fuel tax revenue brought about by higher-efficiency automobiles, particularly hybrids and EVs. Fuel tax revenue has gone down, both because of greater vehicle efficiency, and also because people are driving less, for various reasons. While I don’t consider either a problem, it’s not hard to see why officials in charge of road-building might consider it to be an issue–building and maintaining roads is expensive, and not getting cheaper. My main thoughts and concerns about this, after the jump: