Sen. Atkins Praises State Funding of San Diego Transit Projects

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Sen. Toni Atkins at a press conference. Courtesy of her office

State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins Friday lauded the state’s allocation of nearly $46 million to public transit improvements in her home district of San Diego.

Money is intended to increase ridership, speed up service and improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.

“This funding will help make San Diego’s public transit system safer, faster and more accessible,” Atkins, a Democrat, said. “I’m glad to see these badly needed improvements get underway.”

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System was awarded $41 million to increase rider frequency of the Blue Line trolley, which spans 15.4 miles between downtown and San Ysidro. Funds will also be used to improve stations, purchase zero-emission buses and create a new Rapid Bus service linking Imperial Beach with the Otay Mesa International Border Crossing.

The San Diego Association of Governments, meanwhile, was given $5.76 million to make safety improvements and station upgrades along 2.3 miles of University Avenue.

Grants are generated through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and the 2017 road repair act that increased California’s gas and diesel taxes by 12 cents and 20 cents per gallon, respectively. Vehicle registration fees also increased $25 to $175, depending on the value of the vehicle.

The tax increases are expected to generate $52 billion to whittle down the state’s sizable backlog of needed public transportation infrastructure improvements.

There has been significant pushback against the gas tax increase, however.

Republicans are advocating for a repeal of the law, and an initiative is likely headed to the Nov. 8 ballot.

Effort organizer and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio announced this week that his group has collected more than 830,000 signatures in favor of repeal, far more than the 584,000 signatures required to send the issue to voters.

—City News Service

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