City & County Pulling Plug on San Antonio Streetcar Project

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Streetcar graphic by Jason Rodriguez / courtesy VIA.

Streetcar graphic by Jason Rodriguez / courtesy VIA.

Less than one week after Mayor Julián Castro resigned his office for a Cabinet post in Washington, newly elected Mayor Ivy Taylor emerged from an executive session of the City Council Monday to announce an effective end of City support for VIA Metropolitan Transit’s Modern Streetcar project.

“The City of San Antonio is asking for VIA to rethink and redevelop their transportation proposal that could be taken to the voters for consideration at a future time. The current proposal is very unpopular,” Mayor Taylor said. “We certainly believe there needs to be community consensus on comprehensive multimodal transportation plan.

“Since there is such lack of support, I am directing the city staff to draft an ordinance for my colleagues on the City Council to consider to withdraw the city’s $32 million for the streetcar project and redirect that to other development initiatives in the center city to which we remain strongly considered,” Taylor said. “This ordinance…also will outline the fact that Council will not approve any rail project without approval of the electorate.”

Taylor said City Council would embark on a comprehensive update on the city’s master plan and also produce a comprehensive transportation plan. She called the streetcar project a “piecemeal” approach rejected by citizens.

“We heard loud and clear from the citizens on this matter that they want to have a say, and also we believe it is very important that we take a comprehensive approach in relation to transportation, and the current plan is more of a piecemeal approach,” Taylor said.

The mayor was joined at the impromptu press conference by six Council members and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who threw his support behind the Mayor and Council.

“While I am disheartened with today’s announcement, I fully understand and support Mayor Ivy Taylor’s decision,” Wolff said in a brief statement. “Unfortunately, we were not able to gain sufficient public support for VIA’s Five Year Short Term Plan, which included the streetcar.

“While Bexar County does not have a direct financial investment in the current plan, I will be asking our county representatives on the VIA board to withdraw the streetcar plan and develop a new transportation plan for future public consideration and vote,” Wolff said.

Wolff, who is seeking re-election as county judge, faces former City Councilman Carlton Soules on the November ballot. Soules has used growing suburban opposition to the streetcar project as a galvanizing issue in a race that otherwise was not seen by political observers as a competitive one.

Taylor is not seeking election to the mayor’s office in may 2015 after she serves out Castro’s unexpired third term, but she told the Rivard Report in an earlier interview that if elected interim mayor she would not be a caretaker mayor.

“I am committed to making the tough decision without having to worry about my political future,” she said in the days before Council voted to make her mayor.

At the Monday press conference, Taylor said City Council was “hitting the pause button” to seek public support for a more comprehensive transportation plan that addresses sprawl, congestion, and other problems that remain unaddressed. She said she is not concerned that today’s action could once again place multimodal transit on the city’s back burner for another decade or more.

“We can’t deny the huge growth that we’ve had in our city, and for folks who live further out in the city, the congestion they face on the road everyday is something that can’t be ignored. We have to develop other options for our city,” Taylor said. “We’re the only Top 10 city that doesn’t have another mode of transportation, so the question is right in our face. It’s about how we communicate together and how we plan together, so I am confident we can move forward on this important issue.”

Mayor Ivy Taylor (far left) speaks at a press conference following Monday's City Council Executive Session, with (L-R)  County Judge Nelson Wolff, District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña, District 9 Council Joe Krier, and District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal, and District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales. Photo by Robert Rivard.

Mayor Ivy Taylor (far left) speaks at a press conference following Monday’s City Council Executive Session, with (L-R) County Judge Nelson Wolff, District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña, District 9 Councilman Joe Krier, District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal, and District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales. Photo by Robert Rivard.

City Council met in executive at 2 p.m. to be briefed by City Attorney Robbie Greenblum on City Clerk Leticia Vacek‘s review of 26,000 signatures on petitions gathered by streetcar opponents that called for a public vote on the project in November.

One source said the Clerk’s office found only 11,000 of the signatures were on valid certified petitions, but the prospect of inevitable litigation coupled with a lack of strong public support for the downtown streetcar project helped doom it politically.

“We will provide a full report on the streetcar petition signatures,” Taylor said later. “The City Clerk will provide that at our B Session on Aug. 6, so we certainly recognize the tremendous effort that was made by citizens and their voices were heard.”

Whatever the final signature count, growing opposition to the streetcars in the suburbs and the way it was becoming a larger referendum on downtown investment projects threatened to further divide the city. Even in the urban core, many supporters of mass transit alternatives were lukewarm about the streetcar project, wishing instead that VIA was building a light rail system that could move people efficiently in and out the center city into key suburban points.

At least one recent poll apparently showed growing public opposition to the project and a desire to see the measure put to a vote.

Without city or county support, emboldened public opposition and a lack of business community support, VIA officials have little recourse but to kill the project. Even Centro San Antonio, a private-public partnership organized to promote downtown development and livability, was lukewarm about the streetcar project and its proposed routes.

Move SA Forward, a recently formed coalition of pro-streetcar supporters that will continue to advocate for progressive mass transit solutions, met Monday and decided to cancel a planned press conference Tuesday, opting instead to await action by VIA.

District 9 Councilman Joe Krier, who was elected to Council in part on an anti-streetcar platform, praised Mayor Taylor for listening to the public and called the decision “the right one.”

“We need a comprehensive, well thought-out plan that we can take to voters, and if we can persuade them, fine,” Krier said. “This is a great victory for citizens who think they should have a voice in major public policy issues.”

This is the second time that a groundswell of public opposition has blocked a major mass transit initiative proposed by elected leaders in San Antonio. Voters rejected a light rail proposal by a 2-1 vote in 2000. Taylor said Monday she did not think ending the streetcar project would derail mass transit in San Antonio because the larger issues, ranging from air quality to traffic congestion, remain. Still,  it’s bound to reverberate politically.

“We’re the only major city in America without multimodal transit,” Wolff said after the press conference. Speaking from the dais, Wolff said, “I spent  five years of my life on this and we were unable to do it. You win some, you lose some. We lost this one.”

Taylor called on city officials to work with the County, VIA, and others to develop a comprehensive transportation plan that can be put before voters.  The likelihood of any such initiative occurring in the next 10 months while Interim Mayor Ivy Taylor holds office and serious jockeying begins for the May 2015 mayoral election seems highly unlikely.

The stunning political victory by streetcar opponents, which included a major organizational push and media campaign by the San Antonio Firefighters Association, also calls into question the impact this development will have, if any, on collective bargaining talks between the City and the police union, which have been suspended since early June. The current five-year contract expires on Sept. 30, and efforts by the City to revive the talks have not yielded a positive response from union negotiators.

A video released by the union last week features San Antonio Police Officer Association President Mike Helle declaring that union dues will be raised to fund a public relations campaign against City Manager Sheryl Sculley and her staff and any Council members who oppose a new contract that forces uniform personnel on to the same health care benefits plan as civilian employees.

‘The people in my district who signed this petition did not sign it to make a statement about the police and fire contract issue, they signed it because they wanted to make a statement about the streetcar proposal, period,” Krier said. “We need a police and fire contract that is not a win-lose deal. We need to find something that changes what we’re doing, but I believe there ought to be some differential for uniform personnel and non-uniform personnel because non-uniform personal do not put their lives at risk, but it needs to be significantly different from the coverage we are currently providing.”

*Featured/top image: Streetcar graphic by Jason Rodriguez / Courtesy VIA.

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36 thoughts on “City & County Pulling Plug on San Antonio Streetcar Project

  1. Now maybe they can spend that $300 million more wisely on a better bus transit system using modern, quiet, efficient hybrid-electric buses, a better network of park-and-ride locations, dedicated bus lanes in downtown area, super-stops with free wi-fi covered seating, and public art, etc. Think of it as a streetcar system with rubber tires and no rails so there is flexibility to modify the routes, and actually moves people from where they live to where they want to go.

    • “Think of it as a streetcar system with rubber tires and no rails…”

      Why should I try to do that, Jim, when there IS no such thing?!

      I must admit, it is funny to picture a group of “antis” during the Great Depression, busily suggesting alternatives to proposed San Antonio River improvements:

      “Why can’t we simply paint the pavement blue, then pull a few rubber tired flat-bed wagons down the street with tractors?”

      Surely, that’d be almost as good and a whole lot cheaper, right? Best of all, the system wouldn’t have been tied down to one specific route. Just think of the flexibility!

      Yeah.

      Garl Boyd Latham

  2. Robert….you really have to consider some other ending for your stories. Every time I read your blog, it seems that it ends with the same paragraph. At some point the contract issues will resolve themselves. Take a breath man its all good. See ya at the next City sit down.

  3. This makes me extremely sad. I finally thought San Antonio was going to take a small first step to invest in its future; instead it is backing out because some people who don’t even use public transit sign a petition. My only opposition to the rail was that it was too small.

    Rails are better because they have their own dedicated route. No need to worry about getting caught up in traffic, businesses can develop around the stations, and from an engineering viewpoint an electric train/streetcar will always be much more energy efficient than any hybrid bus.

    Leave it up to Texas to never think more than a few years ahead. I’m 20 right now, and I’d like to come to San Antonio in 20 years seeing it take advantage of the best technologies available instead of just expanding its highways to be wider and wider and wider.

    • Matthew, I think you need some education on this plan. Streetcar contends with traffic, light rail has dedicated routes. This would have had to deal with traffic like a bus, but wouldn’t be able to change lanes if the lane was obstructed. That’s how streetcar works in all cities and this would have been no different.

    • “… because some people who don’t even use public transit sign a petition.” Socialist minded thought process. I want people who will never use it to pay for it because I think it’s cool!
      Beside the ridiculous price tag on this project, I think the major problem most had was that it would benefit a very small portion of the city. Oh, and btw….those that would benefit were a small group of investors who where lining the pockets of certain individuals in city hall, or formerly there.

      • Congratulations, Meadows! In one paragraph, you’ve succeeded in insulting anyone who supports rail-based transit, insinuated that a budget which would barely allow the construction of one freeway interchange is outlandish (presumably since the money was NOT intended for road building), and accused “certain individuals” (naturally unnamed) of financial malfeasance.

        Before composing your next hate-filled rant, take a deep breath and say a word of thanks to all the “socialists” who underwrite your continued ability to live an autocentric lifestyle.

        Garl Boyd Latham

    • Matthew,

      You may as well give up on that 20-year time frame.

      San Antonio has already cast its lot with the gainsayers. My advice would be to choose a future-minded city when seeking your fame and fortune, leaving Bexar County to its asphalt and sprawl.

      Garl Boyd Latham

      • Randy: Sorry about that. I mainly saw value in the streetcar project as a first step to light rail and other more sustainable modes of transport, so when I saw it was canceled, you know what was on my mind!

        Meadows: Call the thought process what you want, you have to admit that most people showing up to the town halls to rant about Via’s plans aren’t taking the bus there.

        Garl: Thank you for your advice. Fortunately, I do go to college in NYC and have the option of never coming back to San Antonio. Its VERY tempting. But I also know the struggles people in San Antonio and in Texas face; I’d really hate to just turn my back on that.

        • Matthew,

          I truly appreciate your comments.

          I was born and reared in Dallas. I understand your desire to give back, actively helping your home prepare for the future. I sincerely wish you well.

          At times like this, I guess my frustration comes to a boil. I’m in my mid-50s, with college (and most of my life) behind me. I may not be “old,” but I’m not young anymore – yet I still seem to be fighting the same battles, over and over and over again!

          I wish with all my heart that things were different, that concepts such as “energy stewardship” and “environmental protection” and “quality of life” were more than empty words, that “transportation” in Texas wasn’t synonymous with roadways, that our elected officials were truly “leaders.”

          Your generation bears a great burden of responsibility. I have a feeling you’ll be up to the task!

          Best,
          Garl

  4. That’s too bad. I guess San Antonio is intent on staying a suburban back woods while Austin, Houston, and Dallas continue to innovate in their urban core and attract the dynamic jobs that make a city’s economy dynamic.

    • It IS too bad, isn’t it?

      Looking back, I always figured it’d be Houston that would wait too long before abandoning a roadway-only approach to the movement of people and goods.

      Instead, that distinction goes to San Antonio.

      Bizarre.

      Garl Boyd Latham

    • Look at the ‘success’ of the Houston and Dallas transit systems. They spend billions on rail as the < 3% of citizens riding their transit systems declines, based on population (source American Public Transit Assoc.). Austin's Metrorail serves .02% of its citizens, costs $1.2M a month to run and loses $22/rider/month! Is that "innovation"? Light rail doesn't attract jobs, that's nonsense – do we really need MORE people moving to San Antonio? Numerous studies of 'rail driven development' reveal any associated development is a result of taxpayer subsidies, government give-aways and tax abatement's.

      Follow the money – rail projects are successful at three things: 1) diverting funds from transportation projects that serve the most citizens and 2) fill rail special interests feed trough with public funds and 3) raising taxes. NO urban rail project in the last 70 years has had any significant impact on traffic congestion (source U.S. Dept of Transportation).

      We stand at the advent of a transportation revolution. Smart traffic signals (400 installed in Houston to date), intelligent highways (pilot project installed by Texas Transportation Institute and TXDOT between Hillsborough and Salado on IH-35), smart / autonomous vehicles (Google car, adaptive cruise controls, collision avoidance, etc.) promise better use of our roadways, better transit options and make these expensive, limited use streetcar and rail schemes look stupid. This is INNOVATION my friend, not 1800's ideas that line the pockets of rail special interests!

      San Antonio is so much smarter than Austin – Its city government costs 50% less and they dumped the rail scheme.

      • Anonymous autocentrist:

        Not surprisingly, your proposals solely revolve around the continued use, at all costs, of roadways and the motor vehicles which ply them.

        That is not innovative, nor is it indicative of a “transportation revolution.”

        It is predictable, though.

        Garl B. Latham

  5. When I returned to San Antonio after going to college in Austin I was really impressed by the direction the city, specifically the downtown core and surrounding neighborhoods, was headed. I was looking forward to being a part of realizing the massive potential that exists in downtown San Antonio. The streetcar is/was a keystone part of tying together all of the great new projects and existing institutions in downtown and the surrounding area. I am upset about the decision, but I think I am actually more saddened about seeing that future slip away.

    • Move while you have an opportunity, Young.

      San Antonio’s direction for at least the next quarter-century has apparently been decided. Unless vital family responsibilities are keeping you here, I see no sense in undermining your own future by remaining in Bexar County.

      Garl Boyd Latham

  6. Think about it. Light rail in San Antonio could extend from downtown:

    north to the airport — with stops at Pearl, Brackenridge Park/SA Zoo, the Quarry and North Star Mall along the way — and continue on up to 281 & 1604, helping alleviate traffic there;

    to the Medical Center, UTSA’s 1604 campus, and La Cantera/The Rim/Fiesta Texas in the NW;

    to Edgewood and SeaWord in the West;

    to the AT&T Center, continuing on to China Grove and Adkins in the East (most likely helping to spur economic development along the way to China Grove/Adkins);

    to Rackspace, continuing on to Schertz/Converse/Universal City area in the NE;

    to BiblioTech, Toyota (and potentially a Tesla battery manufacturing plant) in the South/SW.

    It would be fantastic for the entire city — including (if not especially) for downtown and for neighborhoods with stops along the light rail’s routes — and has the benefit of being actually needed (as opposed to the streetcar). I do think the streetcar is quaint, though, and may make more sense someday (say, if light rail brings more density to downtown SA).

    A light rail system in SA could even still include the circle-route around the downtown area the way the streetcar did.

    • Great idea Michael! The problem with this proposal is that it makes too much sense! It’s the same problem that prevents Uber and Lyft from operating here! It’s the same problem that prevents SA from making meaningful strategic investments that will benefit all citizens – now and in the future. It’s great that Mayor Taylor put a stop to the pointless streetcar plan (it was just really expensive lipstick on a pig). Hopefully SA will embrace a more meaningful solution to its transportation needs like you suggested Michael.

      • But the streetcar plan was NOT “pointless,” BP! It was a start – a beginning – which has apparently now been scuttled.

        At this juncture, any near-term hope for a “more meaningful solution” is nothing but a pipe dream.

        The ultimate problem wasn’t with VIA’s specific street railway plan; it was the fact that any form of rail-based passenger transportation was being seriously discussed. That frightened the autocentrists who, in turn, proved themselves willing to do whatever was necessary to undermine the project.

        Garl Boyd Latham

    • I share Garl’s disappointment with the loss of city support on the street cars. Light rail was killed 14 years ago by the “people”, and now the streetcar project was killed by 11,000 San Antonio voters, and another 15,000 non-San Antonio voters. The gist of the argument was first, the street car does not serve all San Antonio residents because so many don’t even go downtown, and when they do, they drive. Second, the streetcar is too expensive. Last, subsidizing public transportation is unwise.
      The solution was to let the people vote. Giving the people the ability to vote on every proposed passenger rail project will have consequences, which no doubt is the point. Your post highlights one of my first concerns. Requiring a vote also means there will have to be campaigns. So, to get a rail project approved, the proponents will have to spend significant money on a city-wide campaign to have any hope of approving the project, and I suspect that means the projects will have to favor those with the perceived influence. In San Antonio, that means the north and west fringe of the city. After all, the loudest complaints against the streetcars came from the suburbs. The areas of the city that are already dominant users of public transportation just so happen to be the areas of the city that also have a lot less political influence (south, east and west sides). Your proposal doesn’t offer them much, and I expect any project that hopes to get city wide support would exclude these areas of the city because the money, power and influence in the city are unbalanced.
      The second issue is rail projects would require an expensive campaign while road and highway projects just get magically done, apparently without government subsidies. There’s some false assumption that every new road or road expansion has universal utility to every citizen, and that every citizen supports these projects. Just how many people would truly support any given road project is never questioned because there is no vote, public input, or campaign. There’s no effort to examine the fiscal impacts. There’s no effort to justify the value of road projects, even though a growing body of literature shows they don’t produce the value to pay for their construction and maintenance. The billion dollars being spent on NW Loop 1604 do not provide any value to me. I don’t go there, and when I do it’s on a bike. I don’t need a controlled access highway with 70 mph traffic. I need a narrow two-lane road with 20-30 mph traffic. A little shade would be nice too, and a water fountain. Rail projects would now have a burden to pay for an expensive campaign that attempts to explain how the rail project pays for itself and doesn’t burden taxpayers, while taxpayer subsidized road and highway projects proceed without such burdens or public input.
      One might argue that many road projects are voted on in bonds, but those votes are not at all similar to the proposed petition by the anti-streetcar groups. That petition requires rail projects be voted on individually, not in a bond with other projects. Just how many road projects would be approved if voters could vote for the project close to their hearts while simultaneously voting against projects in other parts of town? My guess is the anti-streetcar people know the answer, and that’s why the petition was written the way it was.
      For now though, let’s just all agree to believe our transportation and development patterns of the past 70 years are wise for the next 70 years, because as Garl points out, that’s going to be San Antonio’s reality. More highways, more polluted air, more traffic fatalities, and more pedestrians killed. Hopefully the city leaders who advocated for this decision are willing to associate their names to the long-term consequences. I’ll call it the Krier-Gallagher Act.

  7. The City of San Antonio has done some homework on the street car routes. Their version of these routes included a study of future development. While this alone is not the answer to all issues, they had already determined that an East/West route is not the most viable. VIA has a substantial East/West component to the plan (even if the Chavez route is removed) and removed the Convention population from the plan. The City is now reminding the VIA planners to rethink the work, as the variation from the City plan is large. Mayor Castro already promised a withdrawal of City funding from anything other than a North/South route, and the development already in place along Broadway supports the route.

    • Mr. Kellman,
      As a board member who voted on all decision points and notably on the final PHASE 1 route to include the Westside multimodal center, you are working with old information. The westside connection for Phase 1 added significant ridership numbers and included the Streetcar Maintenance facility, which was a must for the initial construction. I am not sure the interest along Boadway would have favored a maintenence facility. There were many other factors discussed in the public meetings that led to the vote on that route. Centro did not weigh in…publicly. Also, the initial discussions and approval you speak of included conversations that the private sector would contribute dollars. The Mayor also had that expectation. That never materialized and has conveniently been left out of the conversation.
      Mary Cass Briseno

  8. The optics of this plan appeared to many in San Antonio that only a small segment would benefit for such a large sum of taxpayer money. Let’s use these funds to further educate our community. Living away from San Antonio allows me a better perspective of how “small townish,” the city really is. We really need educational programs that allow young and older citizens to get out and see the world, then bring that knowledge back to SA to inform many of those who never get out.

    • How do citizens made good decisions about forms of transportation they have not experienced? How do people who live their lives in one part of the city become aware of the transportation issues in another part of the city? How do you develop a plan which will be acceptable to a group of people who proclaim that they do not believe in planning? How can traffic congestion be seriously addressed without more efficient land development patterns? Can we ever come together and address the serious health, economic and environmental impacts of our current transportation system?

      • In other words, Bill: how can a society efficiently function with both free and open elections, and an uninformed and disinterested electorate?

        I haven’t a clue – and I’ve been considering the implications of this question at least since the mid-’70s, when one of the best teachers I’ve ever had guided our class through this discussion.

        Two aphorisms come to mind:

        “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,”

        and

        “You can’t fix ‘stupid’.”

        Take care,
        Garl

        P.S. Never forget, ideology uber alles (as it were)!

  9. “[Interim Mayor Ivy] Taylor called on…officials to…develop a comprehensive transportation plan that can be put before voters. …any such initiative occurring in the next 10 months…seems highly unlikely.”

    It’s not “highly unlikely”; it’s impossible. All the major players know it, too.

    The goal of the gainsayers is not “to…develop a comprehensive transportation plan.” Their goal is to maintain San Antonio’s passenger transport status quo just a little while longer – preferably ’til they’re dead or no longer driving, whichever comes first.

    Garl Boyd Latham

  10. “…growing opposition to the streetcars in the suburbs and the way it was becoming a larger referendum on downtown investment projects threatened to further divide the city.”

    “Further divide the city”? Who’s responsible for THAT?!

    Our elected officials, “leaders” in name only? Residents north of Anderson Loop, many of whom seem oblivious to downtown’s progress – ’til the day comes when it might cost ’em a dime? Suburban developers, the kings of autocentric sprawl?

    Just who is it that’s truly attempting to “divide the city”?! Could it be the people seeking efficient passenger transportation solutions, appropriate for their part of town – or might it be those who fought a project they didn’t understand through misinformation, thinly-veiled threats and the support of fellow gainsayers?

    “Further divide the city”? Balderdash!

    “Even in the urban core, many supporters of mass transit alternatives were lukewarm about the streetcar project, wishing instead that VIA was building a light rail system that could move people efficiently in and out the center city into key suburban points.”

    This is not an either/or proposition! L.R.V. operations – essentially today’s equivalent of the classic interurban – are not only able to use street railway lines themselves, but greatly benefit from local transit connectors and circulators. Just as bus routes remain a vital part of any comprehensive system, the traditional streetcar concept is the single best solution for high-density urban services.

    Light rail lines could be designed to serve primary downtown terminals and/or a select number of specific station sites before heading out, at speed, along dedicated right-of-way. Streetcars could be used to deliver passengers to the transfer points.

    Might buses help fill that role? Yes, they can and will – within secondary and tertiary corridors; however, the pretense that a bus is able to offer the same quality of service as a streetcar indicates a profound ignorance of transportation technology.

    Even more esoteric, yet vital to a solid understanding of tomorrow’s passenger transport needs, is the fact that San Antonio has never enjoyed a true Union Station facility. Both of our extant depots – the former Southern Pacific (a.k.a. “Sunset”) Station site, currently used by Amtrak, and the former Missouri Pacific (nee International & Great Northern) building, identified as the main downtown location for future Lone Star Rail trains – must serve as intercity passenger railway terminals whenever our society finally decides it will begin taking rail-based solutions seriously! No single location possesses the room or operational flexibility necessary to host all of the commuter, regional, conventional long distance and high-speed services we’ll need. Both stations must be expanded, designed to function in a highly coordinated manner.

    Interestingly, VIA already owns both locations.

    Also worthy of mention (but seldom noted): the streetcar plan would have connected the two depots and their associated transit centres.

    This entire debacle is soul-crushingly sad.

    Garl Boyd Latham

    • Garl,
      I appreciate your in depth comments. And thank you for pointing out that VIA owns both station sites on the east and west sides of downtown. As a former trustee of the VIA Board, I can say that was deliberate, and strategically played into the route planning for the streetcar project for better connectivity to the extensive bus system, and the planned commuter rail project connecting San Antonio to Austin. VIA studied the various transportation technologies to determine what was most suitable for the pupose of a circulator system. Ironically, the downtown business owners were steadfast in avoiding the connectivity in Phase one to the two multimodal sites. The ridership numbers and linked trips were a tremendous boost to San Antonio’s case for federal dollars. That is unfortunately past history as San Antonio once again goes to the back of the line and steps aside for communities that want it more than San Antonio does. As cities all over the country embrace Modern Streetcar as a less expensive technology than light rail…a good fit for San Antonio with limited resources…we will continue to debate amongst ourselves.
      Mary Cass Briseno

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