New gas tax funds could help local roads, bike lanes and transit in many ways

Auto registrations also going up

The Metropolitan Transit District is hoping for a cut of the new California gas tax to bolster services. (John Palminteri/KEYT photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -   The new California gas tax that's now in place  is expected to bring in about $5 billion dollars a year for improvements to our roadways, bridges,  bikeways and mass transit.

 Many stations have already made the changes you will see at your next fill up,  with prices pumped up 12 cents per gallon for gas and 20 cents per gallon for diesel.

The funds may seem like they are going different directions but there is a connection.

"If there's a ton of pot holes,  it's more wear and tear on our buses, right?  It's all connected," said Hillary Blackerby with the Metropolitan Transit District (MTD).

She says it's too early to know what cut of the income is coming this way but the MTD is making plans.

"We're not sure exactly it will be. We will know in our next fiscal year budget,  but it  will definitely help to shore up any deficits we have and staving off fare increases or service cuts most likely. We're looking forward to getting that to give us more fiscal stability," said Blackerby.

Judy Keener is a bus rider from Isla Vista.  She said keeping fares as they are was important on her budget as a senior. "They are great.  I can get on in I.V.  get on the freeway and get down here in 25 minutes.  In Atlanta I had to pay 3.75 for a bus and here I pay 55 cents."

 Another rider said more stops in more places would be helpful .

"There's some spots that they don't get to in town but I don't know if they can change that and  get a better route," said bus rider Manuel Robles.

Next year, there will be a new bus terminal project on Chapala Street.

"We are getting close to getting permits from the city  to go forward with bids and to start construction on renovating the interior, redoing the driveway the bus  circle and landscaping around it," said Blackerby.

Funding  will also pay safer bike routes for school children, workers and general recreation riding.







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