Randal O’Toole Pioneers the Future of Tolling

With his signature colonel ties and a home address in Camp Sherman, Randal O’Toole certainly projects the image of a pioneer, but in the case of testing out the future of transportation financing, he’s as much substance as style. The Beaver State’s leading transportation economist is a volunteer in an Oregon pilot program that tracks drivers’ mileage for billing, an experimental alternative to the gas tax.

Given a choice of vendors, he chose Azuga, a company whose main business is helping trucking companies keep track of their fleets. Azuga sent him a little GPS that plugs into the diagnostic port on his car.

O’Toole gave Azuga $20 in credit and every month they send him a report of how much he drove and how much is left of that $20. Azuga deducts O’Toole’s estimated gas taxes assuming his vehicle, a Subaru Outback, gets 30 mph. The mileage-based user fee is 1-1/2 cents so he ends up paying a net of about half a penny per mile.

While it’s designed to mimic the Oregon gas tax, this technology has much potential to be more efficient. It could be the Uber of transportation financing and infrastructure maintenance.

Eventually, the GPS could keep track of which roads he drove on and automatically send the money to the proper transportation agency proportional to his actual use of theirs roads. For example, O’Tool told me: “Over the course of a day I might drive on a private road, a federal (Forest Service) road, a city street, a county road, and a state highway. Unless I’m driving on a state road, my money should go to the road owners, not the state.” This would also be an efficient means of implementing congestion pricing.

Every time I hear Randal O’Toole speak, I learn something. If you’re near the University of Oregon tomorrow he’ll be speaking at a Students for Liberty event, and I suggest you stop by.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of A Brief History of Political Cultural Change.




Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Transportation | Tagged | 4 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Marvin

    Another plan for the Socialists to dive into our pocket books to fund their bloated budgets. Yeah, I want a government agency to mandate I put a GPS tracking unit in my car that will tell them everywhere I have travelled. What happens when I travel out of State. Is the computer going to send my money to the State I was traveling in other than Oregon? For the Greenies that think that we are all going to be driving electric cars I got new for you. The plan here is to make driving so expensive that you will plant your but on public transportation and only the elite and wealthy will have vehicles. Oh, just like Europe. Here’s a thought; quit taxing the fuel and finance the roads and transportation from the general fund supported by a sales tax. Everyone in the state pays and no one has to provide the government with a detailed report on where they have been.

  • John Fairplay

    There’s nothing I’ve desired more than for government to know which roads I drive on and when. I’ve tried a couple of times just calling up the ODOT and recounting my driving day, but they haven’t seemed too interested. I’m hoping – once government can track all my movements in the car – they’ll consider just implanting a chip in my arm or something so they can track me everywhere I go.

  • Bob Clark

    The dusty on the shelf west side bypass would make a great project for tolling I believe.

  • moby

    Other states toll we should too

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)