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California Gas Tax Props Public Transit, Drains Drivers' Wallets

PLEASANTON (KPIX 5) – California drivers will pay more at the pump starting Wednesday.

The legislature approved a gas tax increase as part of a huge transportation funding bill that will give more money -- $54 billion in the next 10 years -- to public transit and state and local road improvement.

Gasoline taxes will increase by 12 cents per gallon, a hike of 43 percent. And diesel fuel will cost 20 cents more per gallon, with a tax jump of 125 percent.

Many people work in the Bay Area but choose to live outside the area for more affordable housing.

But with the gas tax, is it still affordable housing?

We spoke with the Fenton family, one of many families that will feel the pinch with the tax hike.

Round trip, Trish and Dan Fenton commute 120 miles a day from Patterson to Pleasanton, and back.

Trish Fenton is a teacher at Pleasanton's Foothill High School. Her husband, Dan Fenton, teaches at the middle school and coaches football at the high school.

"It's 60 miles from school to our porch ...." Dan Fenton said.

After a long workday, it's a long drive back home with stops to the gas pump at least three times a week.

Their daughter Annie Fenton also drives a car to Foothill High School and back.

Trish Fenton says the family would probably try to take just one car, instead of two cars.

But the tax means hundreds of millions of dollars and better public transit for Bay Area counties over ten years:

Alameda County: $293.5 million

Contra Costa County: $245.1 million

San Francisco County: $382. 8 million

San Mateo County: $164.8 million

Santa Clara County: $368.2 million

Transportation advocates insist the funding will not be bogged down in bureaucratic red tape.

A special auditor will be appointed to make sure SB1 funding is going where intended.

Dan Fenton says he has actually noticed some road improvements.

"They've done embankment stuff and cement walls and potholes -- during commute hours -- which isn't the best time," he said.

The Fenton family says even with the gas tax, they still think their commute is worth it. They contend that their money goes further in Patterson than the Bay Area.

"Absolutely. Yeah, it's beautiful," Trish Fenton said.

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