San Diego Wins $41 Million For Electric Buses, Improved Transit
San Diego's public transit system will soon have a fleet of new zero-emission buses, paid for in part by last year's increase to the state gas tax.
The Metropolitan Transit System announced Thursday it had been awarded $40.9 million in competitive grants funded by the state's cap-and-trade program and the gas tax measure, called SB 1. The largest share of that money will go toward the purchase of 11 electric buses to serve a new rapid bus route connecting the Otay Mesa border crossing with Imperial Beach.
"This is a highly competitive grant program," MTS CEO Paul Jablonksi said in a statement. "This grant funding will help our efforts to maintain a solid state-of-good repair and introduce zero-emissions buses to the market."
Other projects receiving funding include pedestrian enhancements around America Plaza and Santa Fe Depot downtown, trolley track and signal replacements and improvements to stops along the new South Bay rapid bus line.
SB 1 narrowly passed the required two-thirds majority in the state legislature last year. It raised the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and imposed new vehicle fees between $25 to $175. Supporters say it is necessary to repair California's crumbling infrastructure, as the existing gas tax has failed to keep pace with inflation.
The state estimates SB 1 will collect about $54 billion in its first decade, with the funding split between the state highway system and local governments. Officials have created an online map that shows where and how the money is being spent.
Republican activists, meanwhile, say they have collected enough signatures to put a repeal of SB 1 to a public vote. The measure, spearheaded by former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, would also require all future gas tax increases be put to a statewide vote. Existing laws require a two-thirds majority for all special tax increases.