Oregon Governor Kicks Off State Gas Tax Campaign in Eugene's Bus Rapid Transit

A transportation funding proposal including a gas tax will be prepared for the 2017 legislative session. The media event in the EmX bus highlighted the need to have continuous, dedicated lanes for the Eugene-Springfield bus rapid transit system.
April 27, 2016, 10am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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“EmX” Bus Rapid Transit Corridor
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"More than 50 guests joined Governor Kate Brown in touring the region's model BRT system (known as EmX)," notes the Lane Transit District (LTD) news article on the April 25 media event. "EmX has revolutionized transit in Eugene and Springfield," said Aurora Jackson, LTD General Manager.

"Our Bus Rapid Transit system has many of the same amenities that make light rail so popular, but it operates at one-tenth the cost.” Aurora Jackson."

According to Saul Hubbard of The Register-Guard, one of the targeted investments for the new transportation package, "likely paid for by a combination of higher gas taxes and vehicle registration and driver license fees," would be to increase the dedicated lanes for the the successful bus rapid transit. According to Wikipedia, dedicated lanes now account for 60 percent of the route.

In Eugene, LTD wants to have two dedicated lanes for EMX rapid bus service from the city’s eastern edge to the university — the roadway now alternates between stretches with one and two dedicated EMX lanes. City officials also want to build low-speed, local access roads for bikes and cars on either side on the existing roadway, separated from the main travel lanes by medians.

Springfield, meanwhile, will begin work this summer on a $11.5 million project to build new roundabouts, local access lanes, and a dedicated pedestrian and bike path.

The transportation package would be considered in the 2017 legislation session. Brown supported a four-cent gas tax increase last year, but it fizzled in the legislature, allowing the state to retain its low carbon fuel standard, known as the Clean Fuels Program, only the second state after California to have such a program.

Oregon has the nation's only operating vehicle-miles-traveled fee (called a road usage charge) program known as OReGO. It is not a pilot program but it is restricted to 5,000 vehicles. The user fee increases to be introduced in the next legislative session illustrate the need for states to continue increasing gas taxes while VMT fee programs are developed and refined.

In other state gas tax news, a proposal to increase the gas tax by three cents In Massachusetts was defeated in the House on April 25.

Hat tip to AASHTO Daily Transportation Update.

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Published on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 in The Register-Guard
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