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San Antonio Residents Reflect On Mass Transit Following Streetcar Project Derailment

Joey Palacios
TPR News
A VIA bus drops of passengers at Navarro and Commerce Street.

VIA's multi-million dollar modern streetcar plan will have to take a new track as the city and county have indicated both will withdraw their support from the project. The city of San Antonio stated its intent to remove it’s $32 million pledge, leaving many to cheer or chastise its decision.

The decision to remove funding by the city and county took both supporters and opponents of VIA’s multimillion dollar modern street car plan by surprise. But that doesn’t mean the plan is completely dead.

Attorney Roger Perez said he hopes this is a time to re-evaulate the plan with community input.

“Whether this was the correct one or not I think is obviously going to be looked at in more detail, but I think that we need to be looking at alternatives to vehicular traffic," Perez said.

Minerva Torres, also an attorney, said she supports a future streetcar plan.

“I don’t see anything wrong with it,” she said. “I don’t think we have enough transportation around this town; even Austin has a much better system lined up.”

Opponents of the streetcar, like James Williamson and Sandra Hickman, were quick to cheer the city’s decision  and hope to see the money be placed elsewhere.

“I think it could go to other streets that need repair, go to other highways that need to be built, 1604/281 that type of thing,” Williamson said.

“I don’t think that they need that in this town because this is not San Francisco. There is not enough money to support it,” Hickman said. “If they need to do anything downtown they need to make room for a bike lane, which would make it much more feasible.”

While the city and county have both given statements to withdraw their support, VIA said it will not give a statement of its own until the transit authority’s board has had a chance for formally meet this Thursday.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules