Whenever there’s another spike in gas prices, especially when the reason for the increase is unexplained, all of us drivers feel resentful. I know I’m not the only one who remembers gas being a dollar a gallon and who will reminisce about it to teenagers whenever the chance arises.

But what if that next surge you see at the pump was for the greater good, and not just to line the pockets of gasoline companies? According to CBS Local, starting in January, gas prices in California will creep up about 10 to 20 cents, with most of the extra money going towards Gov. Jerry Brown’s long sought-after dream for our state: the high-speed rail connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Thanks to California’s cap-and-trade program, designed to reduce greenhouse gasses, companies who create more pollutants than their limits allow will need to buy extra permits from others that require fewer. Gas wholesalers are expected to spend more on permits, and then, of course, they will then pass along the increase of cost to us drivers.

But in exchange, from the revenue off the permits, we'll be getting more buses, new BART cars, and more housing under Brown’s recent budget deal. The extra $250 million a year will help kickstart the rail line that’s been “in the works” longer than Lindsay Lohan’s “comeback.” Because voter-approved funding for the train is tied up in court, the budget money allocated is meant to trigger federal matching funds that are earmarked for 25% of state’s cap-and-trade revenue towards the rail project.

Phew, that was a mouthful.

Some are worried the high speed train will never actually happen, but rail backers are feeling confident, promising this connector train will reduce pollution and congestion, get more people out of their cars, and create more jobs. An extra 20 cents at the pump for a brighter future in California? That doesn’t sound so bad. And to top it off, the rail line deal was contingent on Brown forking over more money for pre-school education. 

[Via: CBS Local; photo via Thinkstock]