Gimme Shelter: VIA Showcases New Five Points Transfer Area

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Rivard Report / Jeffrey Sullivan

Shelters at VIA's new Five Point Transit Area give customers more shade.

VIA Metropolitan Transit on Wednesday showcased its new Five Points Transfer Area, which features renovated shelters with charging stations for electronic devices, public art, and new landscaping.

The project is one of the hundreds of bus stops that VIA has recently updated to improve its customers' transit experience.

"This successful project is part of our ongoing passenger amenities program, that by the end of the year will include the installation of over 1,000 new and improved bus shelters," VIA CEO and President Jeffrey Arndt said. "That means that by the end of this year about 95% of the people that board a VIA bus will board at a location that provides shelter."

Increased shade shelter is only one of the several additions made to the Five Points Transfer Area, which VIA said serves almost 1,000 people a day. It is located in the Five Points neighborhood where Fredericksburg Road, North Flores, North Laredo, and Laurel streets meet.

"We’re really excited, because lots of great things are happening in our little neighborhood," Five Points Neighborhood Association President Elyse Bernal said. "Now we have this beautiful transfer center, which essentially has provided a facelift to the gateway of our neighborhood. In Five Points we’re really proud of that."

Rivard Report / Jeffrey Sullivan

The 18-foot branded pillar marking the Five Points Transfer Area, featuring digital bus routes and arrival times

An 18-foot VIA-branded red pillar stands between three new shelters and features a digital screen showing six bus lines and their expected arrival times. To the right of one of the benches is a gray charging station that has both power outlets and USB ports, accompanying the free wifi offered around the area.

VIA eventually will install solar panel lighting on the shelters.

"The shelter itself is modular in nature, which makes it economical for us to maintain," Arndt said. "We are going to be retrofitting these shelters with solar powered lights."

Lighting the area at night is only one of the safety features built into the transit area. Security cameras are located around the property, including on the pillar directly above the digital screen.

Four covered bicycle parking stations are also provided, with a repair station that includes several bike tools and an air pump. Neighbors appreciate the investment by VIA, which has its administrative buildings directly behind the transfer area.

"VIA is a great neighbor to Five Points and to our neighborhood," Bernal said. "We really appreciate that you guys have transformed the Five Points into a place we can continue to be proud of by adding amazing local public art.”

One of the clearest additions to the area was new landscaping featuring small trees and other native plants. Five sculptures created by ceramicist Diana Kersey add color to the area.

"I love to participate in public art, because I love to give back to the community, and I think as an artist it is a very humbling thing to be able to make something that will be here longer than you are," Kersey told the Rivard Report. "I’m honored to participate.”

Rivard Report / Jeffrey Sullivan

"The Guardians of Five Points" created by public artists Diana Kersey.

The collection is titled The Guardians of Five Points and is one of VIA's Art in Transit pieces. The company began commissioning works of art for select stations within the last year under the program.

"I kind of took my cues from what the architects and designers had already wanted for the space, which was for it to be transformed into an urban oasis," Kersey said. "I have a lot of bugs, insects, lizards, and all kinds of colorful little motifs in the sculptures.”

The Five Points Transfer Area services bus lines 2, 82, 88, 95, 96, and 97. VIA will continue its passenger amenities programs, with renovations to its Ingram Transit Center on the Westside currently underway.

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Gimme Shelter: VIA Showcases New Five Points Transfer Area

  1. I love the Diana Kersey sculptures. But. How about a Portland Loo? Considering the bus intervals due to chronic underfunding for our public transit system, people gotta pee before the bus ever arrives!

  2. No toilet facilities? Just as bad, no B-Cycle bikeshare station as long planned.

    The following is what VIA reported to the public in March 2016 as part of their annual reporting:

    “Five Points – In order to serve the high-passenger volumes at the Five Points intersection (2,600 passengers boardings and alightings from six bus routes each day), VIA acquired a parcel of land at the northeast corner of Fredericksburg Road and Flores Street in July, 2014. The enhanced Five Points Transfer Area will include: four new shelters; improved pedestrian and bicycle access; bicycle storage; ticket vending machines; a B-cycle station; a shaded plaza; additional paving; additional benches; picnic tables; public art; and enhanced, low-maintenance landscaping. Construction will begin in Spring 2016 with completion by Summer 2016. ”

    (see page 14: http://www.viainfo.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2015_ComprehensiveAnnualFinancialReport.pdf)

    This echoes the false promises made for Centro Plaza, where B-Cycle (along with food trucks and market activity) was also envisioned and promised to the public.

    No one is forcing VIA to commit to these and related amenities at major bus transfer points downtown – which would match actual existing amenities at transit hubs in other U.S. and Texas cities if ever delivered in San Antonio – but VIA’s budget seems to be going to parties, events and marketing rather than the minimal transit hub investments that they promise and would improve these stops for more than just passing cars and the occasional photo op.

    If Five Points VIA Hub is a year behind schedule and at best 75% complete in regards to promised pedestrian, bus passenger and bike improvements when VIA announces ‘done!’, what can we expect of more ambitious 2040 VIA planning?

    • Just as worrying – why hasn’t VIA made their FY2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report available to the public yet? We’re nearly through VIA’s FY2017. http://www.viainfo.net/about-via/ (see the ‘fiscal management’ tab for FY2012-2015 annual reports)

  3. I’ll give an outside opinion but I don’t have the solution. However I last lived in SA in 1983, I’ve seen the growth and sprawl over the last 3 decades and it’s clear strategic transit planning has failed the city. San Antonio is too big and too far flung to be served by bus transit alone. A comprehensive plan for rail rapid transit be it elevated or subway should be seriously considered. Don’t think light rail, with too many grade crossings. San Antonio with choke on truck and auto traffic in the future. Why is it cities that became big cities in the 21st Century can’t learn the lesson of cities that were big at the turn of the 20th Century?

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