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KCBX News Update: New electric bus in SB County, SLO County COVID hospitalizations at all-time high, and Hwy 46 upgrade

The new electric bus in Santa barbara County.
Courtesy of Santa Barbara County Association of Governments
The new electric bus in Santa barbara County.

Santa Barbara County debuts new electric bus

There’s a new zero-emission, electric intercity bus in Santa Barbara County.

Caltrans and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) unveiled the bus, which transports residents between Santa Maria and Lompoc.

The bus service, called Clean Air Express, serves more than 7,000 passengers each per month with nine weekday round trips.

The bus reportedly cost $850,000. Caltrans provided $500,000 in funding from SB1, the state’s Road Repair and Accountability Act.

The bus service is funded by Measure A, Santa Barbara County’s transportation sales tax measure, and operated by SBCAG.

More information is at cleanairexpress.com.

COVID-19 hospitalizations break record in SLO County

The number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County has reached a new high, according to County Public Health.

67 county residents are in the hospital for severe COVID-19, and seven of those are in the intensive care unit.

Nine more people have died from the virus in SLO County, bringing the total death toll to 398.

2,680 cases have been confirmed since Tuesday, but that does not include people testing positive from at-home rapid tests.

13,874 cases have been reported in SLO County so far this January.

The county’s coronavirus website is slopublichealth.org/COVID19.

$136 million allocated to Highway 46 upgrade in SLO County 

Highway 46 in northern San Luis Obispo County will be getting an upgrade.

CalTrans announced today that $136 million is coming to SLO County to expand Highway 46. It’s part of $586 million allocated by the California Transportation Commission for infrastructure improvements in the state.

The project will expand Highway 46 East to four lanes from the rest area in Shandon to east of the Jack Ranch cafe.

Construction could begin as early as this spring.

Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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