California Allocates Billions from Gas Tax to Fund Transit Projects

Billions of dollars raised from the state gas tax and vehicle fees will go to transit projects in California.

Purple Line Expected to be completed by 2040

  • The three-part extension project would enable Los Angelenos to travel from Downtown to Westwood in around 25 minutes.
  • The estimated cost of the project is $7.89 Billion.
  • Majority of the funding will be from sales tax increases that voters approved in 2008 and 2016, along with federal grant and loan worth nearly $1.5 Billion.

California officials on Thursday announced $4.3 billion worth of rail and bus service improvements with money raised from the state gas tax and carbon emission credits, saying the projects will help meet air quality goals and prepare Los Angeles host the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Specifically, the money will go toward:

  • Expanding the Los Angeles Metro, including light rail extensions to Torrance and Montclair
  • Adding rapid transit service along congested corridors
  • Making the Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink commuter lines faster and more reliable by improving tracks and signals at locations such as Los Angeles’ Union Station
  • Completing the funding for a BART line to San Jose
  • Creating new Samtrans express bus routes along the US 101 corridor

“These zero-emission bus and rail projects mean millions of tons less pollution in the air we breathe,” said Gov. Jerry Brown in a statement. 

The California State Transportation Agency is allocating the money – part of $5.4 billion expected to be raised annually for road and bridge repairs. The money comes from a 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase, 20-cent diesel fuel excise tax increase, and new annual vehicle fees – measures approved by the Legislature and Brown last year.

Some critics and lawmakers are pushing for a ballot initiative this November to repeal the increases, arguing the state could pay for the work by tapping budget surpluses and abandoning the high-speed rail project being pushed by the governor.

The Wilshire/La Brea worksite in Los Angeles, part of the transit projects being helped by the state gas tax.
Meeting Air Quality Goals

The transit projects funded Thursday also will help the state meet climate and air quality goals, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 32 million tons, according to Brian Annis, secretary of the state transportation agency.

The funding includes:

  • $36 million of the $102 million cost to the city of Los Angeles for 112 zero-emission buses to replace existing propane-powered vehicles
  • Expansion of the DASH bus fleet so it runs frequently and in more areas

DASH provides bus service in downtown Los Angeles and in 27 neighborhoods across the city. Each route is designed to serve travel within that neighborhood and to connect to other regional transit services such as Metro Rapid and local routes. The fare is only 50 cents a ride, 25 cents for seniors and the disabled – making it a convenient and accessible service for most folks.

BART Silicon Valley Extension

Project Cost: $4.69 billion

Projected Funding:
$4.91 Billion
Expended Funds:
$160 Million
Measure A Sales Tax & TCRP

Projected Local & State Funds:
$3.25 Billion
Existing Measure A Sales Tax
2016 Sales Tax Measure B

Projected Federal Funds:
$1.5 Billion
FTA New Starts


bart train
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Preparing for 2028 Summer Olympics

Los Angeles’ bid to host the 2028 Summer Olympics already has triggered a slew of mass transit improvement projects.

More than $1 billion in state grants will be matched with local tax revenue to fund the $5.7-billion plan to extend the Gold Line to Montclair, Green Line to Torrance, and the Orange/Red Line between North Hollywood and Pasadena, among other rail projects.

Also, $874 million is slated for the $2-billion project to provide run-through tracks at Union Station and other improvements. The money will improve the performance of Metrolink services to nearby Moorpark, Santa Clarita, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange County.

The Pacific Surfliner service to Santa Barbara will also increase by five to six round trips.

By 2028, Metro hopes to have installed a Bus Rapid Transit line in the city, right by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Bus Rapid Transit consists of buses that operate like trains, having their own dedicated lanes that cars can’t enter or block and their own stations.

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