Want Better Public Transit In San Antonio? VIA Has The Plan, But Not The Money
VIA Metropolitan Transit has a 10-year strategic plan to improve bus frequency, reliability and safety, but its ability to do so depends on figuring out how to pay for it. With a service area of 1,221 miles, VIA covers more ground but receives less than half the funding of any other major Texas metro.
The city's public-transit system has seen positive growth in ridership on certain routes over the past few months, but its large operation, increasing number of customers, investments to enhance bus technology and other changes to improve the overall rider experience require long-term planning and a lot of money.
The subject of VIA's funding has become even more controversial since Mayor Ron Nirenberg proposed that the one-eighth cent sales tax currently allocated for protection of the Edwards Aquifer be rerouted to boost funding for the city's public transit system. If approved, VIA would receive $40 million annually, but the sales tax shift faces vehement opposition.
How does VIA plan to achieve its "reimagined" vision? What strategies exist to obtain the necessary funding? Would Bexar County and San Antonio residents be willing to pay more in taxes for a better, faster, smarter public transportation system?
What is the expected timeline to deploy Advanced Rapid Transit routes? How else does VIA plan to improve the bus experience for all people, including people living with disabilities? What are the challenges for mass transit in large, dispersed cities like San Antonio?
What is the community impact of underfunded public transit? What needs to happen to make riding the bus a viable transportation option for area residents, employees and tourists?
- Jeff Arndt,VIA Metropolitan Transit president and CEO
- Marina Gavito, VIA board trustee
- Michael Walk, research scientist and urban planner at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute
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*This interview was recorded on Monday, February 17.