Monterey Herald: MST taps SB1 gas tax funding for new buses, rapid bus corridor

January 17, 2018
By: Jim Johnson

Monterey-Salinas Transit officials have allocated state Senate Bill 1 gas tax funding toward the purchase of modern, fuel-efficient buses, and are poised to begin devoting additional funding toward the Highway 1 rapid bus corridor project.

According to MST director of planning and marketing Lisa Rheinheimer, the transit system will devote $772,263 in SB1 funding and additional matching funds to buying two new buses to replace older buses in its current fleet.

MST general manager Carl Sedoryk said the SB1 funding offers a unique chance to invest in much-needed transportation projects as a result of what the MST release called a “long overdue increase in the gas tax.”

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make significant investments in transportation and mobility projects that have been neglected and underfunded over the last 20 years,” Sedoryk said.

In addition to the bus upgrades, Rheinheimer said MST will also use a portion of the approximately $2.5 million in annual SB1 funding it expects to receive on engineering and environmental review work for the $41 million rapid bus corridor project.

The project would create a bus corridor along the highway shoulder or parts of the Monterey branch line right-of-way between Monterey and Marina, allowing buses to travel faster than other vehicles and spend less time in traffic, Rheinheimer said.

The proposal has already been designated to receive $15 million in voter-approved Measure X local sales tax funding.

Environmental and design work is expected to cost about $505,000, and an additional $25 million is needed in matching federal and state competitive grants to pay for the project.

MST has also determined a proposed upgrade of its Salinas maintenance facility is eligible for SB1 funding, and would help the transit system reach its goal of replacing fossil fuel-powered buses with a clean-air electric fleet, according to Rheinheimer.