OReGO, Oregon’s road usage charge program will soon be expanded. The voluntary program, launched in 2015 by the legislatively created Road User Fee Task Force was created to provide a viable option for transportation funding as fuel tax revenues decline. 

The program was initially limited to 5,000 cars and light-duty commercial vehicles, charging program participants a 1.7 cents-per-mile for miles driven, then awarding a 34 cents per gallon credit for fuel tax paid at the pump. 

House Bill 2881, signed by Governor Kate Brown on June 20, takes one large step forward in ensuring that road users are paying for what they use and preserving Oregon’s transportation system by enhancing the existing program. Representative John Lively (D-Springfield), task force member and chief sponsor of HB 2881 commented before the House vote on the bill, “the program is modernized to reflect what we changed in 2017, and also to be in a place when we get to that point of diminishing returns on the fuel tax, that we’ll have a mechanism to raise the funds that we need to pay for our road improvements.”

Starting January 1, 2020,  program participation will no longer be capped. Additionally, drivers of electric vehicles and vehicles with fuel efficiency ratings of 40+ miles per gallon (mpg) will be exempt from the mpg-based registration fee increases while on the program. The program’s fee formula is modified to keep current with fuel tax changes.

At the bill signing, Governor Brown remarked, “the historic implementation of OReGO, the nation’s first road usage charge, provides a fair and sustainable path to transition from a per gallon charge to a per-mile charge. The system is going to enable us to maintain and improve Oregon’s infrastructure in the face of growing fuel efficiencies.”

Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and its affiliate, Oregon Association of County Engineers and Surveyors (OACES) continue to advocate for equitable solutions that result in revenue sufficient for counties to maintain, preserve, and improve the county road system and will continue to be engaged in this and related discussions regarding transportation revenue.

To read the Oregon Department of Transportation press release on the OReGO expansion, click here.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate