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San Antonio - August 2011

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San Antonio — County Allocates Money for Downtowno Streetcar

Rail Transit Online, August 2011

Local public transportation operator VIA Metropolitan Transit has received $55 million from Bexar County for several proposed transit projects costing $180 million, including the latest version of a downtown streetcar line.

Money for the five-year program will come from the Advanced Transportation District, which allocates tax revenue to VIA, as well as from the county, the City of San Antonio and the Texas Department of Transportation. Both the city and VIA must also contribute to the scheme, $55 million from the former and $70 million from the latter, some of which will be raised by selling bonds. Work on the modern streetcar could start in January if all of the funding falls into place.

It would begin at a new West Side transit center, formerly the city's railroad station, and run along Houston, Santa Rosa, Nueva and Montana streets to the Robert Thompson Transit Center at the Alamodome. The two hubs would serve as transfer points, replacing downtown facilities and reducing bus traffic through the city's core. VIA officials believe ridership will increase by 10 percent following all of the improvements.

"We think a streetcar, along with the two multimodal lines that it will connect, will be that catalyst to truly bring San Antonio into the realm of being one of the premiere towns in the United States of America," VIA President and CEO Keith Parker told the Express-News, adding that he believes streetcars are "economic development juggernauts." Bexar County voters decisively defeated a light rail proposal in 2000.


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