San Antonio — Streetcar Project Collapses
VIA Metropolitan Transit at San Antonio held a press conference on August 1 and announced it's pulling the plug on its controversial modern streetcar project, WOAI radio reports.
The VIA Metro Transit board 'deferred' the controversial downtown streetcar plan, as funding for the project disappeared and opponents closed in on a referendum that likely would have killed the $290 million plan.
"Although we are disappointed that the value of the modern streetcar was not understood or realized by many, we remain optimistic," VIA chairman Alex Briseno told a news conference attenmded by many VIA employees. "We are focused and committed to continue the path of this well thought out 2035 Comprehensive Transportation Plan and achieving our mission."
Briseno says the funding that had been allocated to the streetcar will go into other mass transit programs, including the Primo bus rapid transit system, transit centers on the north, west, east, and south sides as well as downtown, and improved mass transit services along major thoroughfares like US 281 and Fredericksburg Road.
"We plan to buy 30 new busses, more of our Primo routes, and our vision and dedication to our riders will remain steadfast," he said.
"We understand the request of our sponsoring entities, the city and the county, to defer action on the streetcar project," Briseno said. The streetcar, and its huge priced tag for about 6 mile line, was increasingly controversial.
Earlier this week, San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor pulled the city's $32 million in funding for the streetcar, and urged that VIA participate with the city on a charter amendment to set a mass transportation future.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff later asked the county's appointees to the VIA board to vote to place the streetcar on hold. Briseno says any future major transportation projects will be presented to voters for their support.
Briseno said VIA has no position on streetcar opponents who continue to push for a charter amendment to prohibit any rail transportation from being built in the city without a vote.
"We were disappointed that we weren't able to communicate effectively the value of the streetcar project," Briseno said. "We will collaborate with the community in the future. We still think the streetcar is a good project."