VIA To Defer Streetcar, Work On Other Transportation Projects

Aug 1, 2014

A poster at one of the VIA community meetings in November 2012.
Credit Eileen Pace / TPR News

VIA is disappointed in the change of heart by the city and county on streetcar, but the transit authority plans to move forward in other directions while deferring its current plan for the project.

Friday, standing among dozens of VIA employees at a news conference, VIA Chairman Alex Briseño said the transit authority is moving forward; just not with the streetcar project that had been in the works.

The plan forward now, he said, includes expanded PRIMO routes, constructing multi-modal centers, and focus on VIA's long-range plan for 2035 that was approved three years ago.

"We've got a million new people projected to move into Bexar County, bringing with them 500,000 cars. And we have to figure out collectively, the community has to figure out collectively, what we're going to do with those people and those cars," Briseño said.

He said he plans to work collaboratively on a streetcar plan with partners like the city and the county, if streetcar is to be revived, so that the community can have a bigger say with their vote.

"And coming up with a transportation plan that the community can buy off on, that the community can accept," he said.

Briseño noted VIA has spent $17.2 million in staff time, setting meetings and other costs to get to this point. In fact, the environmental study for the project will be done in two weeks, but he said it will be good for another three years. Later this month, the VIA board will officially take action to defer the current plans.

$92 million promised by the Texas Department of Transportation for mass transit will fit into other VIA projects to help curb congestion.