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San Antonio - May 2014

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San Antonio

May 2014

Judge Says Line Will be Built

Bexar (pronounced "bear") County Judge Nelson Wolff (whose position is more or less equal to a chairman of county supervisors in other states) promised in a "State of the County" speech on May 23 that San Antonio's modern streetcar network will be built, WOAI radio reported.

He said that even though many of his friends oppose the streetcar, the evidence from other cities is that once the line is open everyone will like it and urge that it be expanded. He said that the latest census figures show that San Antonio has added 23,000 residents just in the past year, and that improving transit is the only way to serve such growth.

He says a streetcar would carry three times the passengers of a bus, and once running is cheaper to operate, and would be a 'tremendous inter city connection' between UTSA, the Medical Center, downtown, and other attractions.

Economic Benefits Quantified

Texas Public Radio has posted a story focusing on the economic development value of the San Antonio modern streetcar network proposed by VIA Metropolitan Transit.

A recent economic impact study estimated the benefits from investing in streetcars as $1.3 billion over 25 years. This is the expected return to the city for investing $280 million in the streetcar system.

The study, conducted by The SABÉR Research Institute, says the 5.9 mile streetcar route will spur development and increase in property values. 

Opponents have challenged the study and continue to push for a referendum on the project. The opposition has stated that they have gathered more than the requisite 20,000 signatures to add the issue to the November ballot. However, under state law a vote, if held, may not have any impact on the project.

KSAT reports that VIA authorities replied to backers of the petition by saying "We think they are misinforming the public regarding the modern streetcar project." VIA's spokesman further said:

“The cost for instance, the route, the need for it and all sorts of misinformation about how we would operate, you can go on any of the basis and we don’t believe that a true picture of the streetcar has been presented by many of the proponents of the petition.”

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