Inland Empire Transit Briefing - The CA Gas Price gap, Field Studies and more...

Field Study: Passing through Gilman Hot Springs area and checking out the new road safety features...

By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director

This post is going to brief as I'm on the run this week.

I was passing through the downtown districts of Hemet, San Jacinto, Beaumont and Banning earlier today on a field study and noted some observations that I'll run down in detail in a future post. I also had the opportunity to check out the recent safety upgrades through Gilman Hot Springs. I recall passing through this town north of San Jacinto a few years back and drivers have historically sped through this area not observing the 45 MPH posted speed limit. One noticeable feature are the new "YOUR SPEED" digital speed radars that display the driver's speed and flash "SLOW DOWN" when it detects excessive speeds. For the record, as evidenced in the picture above, I was clocked at 42.

The Riverside County Transportation Department (not to be confused with RCTC) is spearheading this project.

One other observation that I noticed is that the Pass Transit bus system in the Beaumont and Banning regions appears to be functioning a lot better than a few years ago. I did not have a chance to actually get on the bus, but I noted that the small buses look simple and attractive and use the Pass Transit branding. Plus, the main trunk routes recently underwent long-overdue streamlining.

The Pass region is very transit dependent and I'll be exploring how inter-regional connections can be improved.

The Growing California Gas Price Gap

The other major story that's unfolding is that gas prices nationally are either holding flat or slightly dropping. However, prices here at home continue to climb although the increase rate began to finally slow down about 11 days ago. These two 5/11/2015 snapshots from GasBuddy.Com illustrate what's going on:

According to the snapshots, the average price of fuel in many states and regions add up to about $2.30-2.40 per gallon. I'll round it up to $2.40. The national average is $2.64. Riverside County's average totaled $3.79.

That adds up to us paying $1.15 more per gallon than the national average and a whopping $1.39 more than the average of some states and metropolitan areas. And the reported trend shows that this gap is still increasing. This due to the state's failure to act on the sudden rise in prices caused by regulations that isolates California's fuel market from the rest of the nation. Because there are ongoing in-state refinery problems operated only by a few major oil firms, supplies remain legally short even though domestic oil supplies are through the roof.

Meanwhile, these oil companies are making bank off of the backs of hardworking Californians no thanks to this ongoing oligopoly.

State officials certainly cannot allow this gap to grow much farther. If this price gap continues to grow, state officials are going to have to act even if that meant suspending the special blend rule until the refineries are fully back online and supplies are back to normal.

The state government has an obligation to regulate oligopolies like this that affects each and every one of us. The failure to act would be a direct dereliction of duty.

I appreciate you all following this blog and I'll talk to you again soon.