VIA’s VIVA Routes are San Antonio’s Holiday Connection

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VIA Metropolitan Transit has several downtown routes.

Courtesy / VIA Metropolitan Transit

VIA Metropolitan Transit has several downtown routes.

VIA LogoThe June 2016 rollout of VIVA, VIA Metropolitan Transit’s uniquely colorful bus line, kicked off service to some of the most-visited sites in San Antonio, in Texas, and the world. VIVA vehicles converge at Alamo Plaza and travel to points north, south, east, and west.  

The three distinct routes connect passengers with the diverse heritage, entertainment, history, and commerce that thrive in San Antonio. Its name, “VIVA,” captures the celebratory spirit of the region. The routes — VIVA Culture (Route 11), VIVA Missions (40), and VIVA Centro (301) — named for the respective corridors they travel, are designed to provide frequent and convenient service to the region’s parks, museums, classic and contemporary art venues, popular dining and entertainment spots, and opportunities to learn and discover.

vivabus-riders-boarding27-1As the holiday season approaches, the region will come to life with twinkling lights, music, and holiday crowds celebrating the seasons. VIVA destinations, including the San Antonio Missions World Heritage Site, Downtown, the Pearl, The DoSeum, The Witte, The McNay Museum of Art, Hemisfair, and Sunset Station are just a few of the places to delight in the season’s festivities. 

“The VIVA routes were inspired by places that celebrate San Antonio, and were developed with input from the community. That’s especially meaningful during the holidays as we observe traditions and participate in events that make this time and these places extra special,” VIA President and CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt said. “Throughout the year, VIVA routes enhance transit options in key corridors, and are designed to provide frequent service and new connections to the region’s most-visited destinations.”

The VIVA routes are an example of VIA’s continued commitment to providing innovative public transportation options to meet the diverse needs of the service area that includes 14 cities throughout the region. On VIVA, riders experience shorter wait times and an enhanced travel experience on 15 new, CNG-fueled buses and a system of restored trolleys – a longtime staple of downtown travel.

A complete schedule and locations served by VIVA are available at VIAinfo.net/VIVA.

2 thoughts on “VIA’s VIVA Routes are San Antonio’s Holiday Connection

  1. Rubber-tired trolleys have always been a great answer for downtown. Much more sensible than the Alice-in-Wonderland streetcar system that went from nowhere to nowhere on bridges and streets that were completely inappropriate.

  2. We’ve had the chance to host an international visitor this week (here for a conference) and her view of particularly VIA’s VIVA buses (40ft CNG models bought used from Dallas DART) wasn’t great.

    Riding with her from Mission San Jose during the week at 2pm on a VIVA 40 (‘Missions’) bus, there were only four riders total on the 40ft bus all the way to downtown – and along a strange route from a visitor perspective.

    The VIVA 40 bus ran express (not stopping) along Roosevelt and St Mary’s after Mission Concepcion, passing VIA stops presumably served by other routes. There’s a chance to re-route the VIVA 40 to Steves, Probandt and South Alamo Street – to serve neighborhoods as well as new residential development along Probandt (Big Tex, etc) with extremely limited VIA bus service at present, but also to create transfer points with the VIVA 11 ‘Culture’ route on South Alamo Street (South of St. Mary’s) where we were hoping to de-board. Hopefully re-routing as well as expanded scheduling (into the evening hours) would boost ridership of VIVA 40.

    In regards to the 11 VIVA route, our friend waited a frustrating 30 minutes for a bus from downtown to the Pearl and was dismayed by bus waiting and walking/pedestrian conditions once at VIA’s drop-off point for the Pearl on Broadway. This time, there was only one other rider on the 40ft VIVA bus.

    Beyond possibly re-thinking the use of 40ft buses for VIVA routes – or working to better integrate VIVA routes with local services, VIA is not currently using technology on board the newer buses appropriately to provide useful information to riders – such as providing a map of approaching stops or times to destinations, as DART does with these same buses in Dallas.

    The marketing article above does not address poor VIVA and other VIA services – including poor waiting conditions and real-time information for riders (as pictured) as well as routing and scheduling that serves visitors and local residents well together. Our friend also used BCycle during her visit and was disappointed by the lack of integration between BCycle and VIA stops and ticketing. For example, she would have opted to ride BCycle to the Pearl (instead of waiting 30 minutes for a nearly empty VIVA bus) if a dual week-long VIA/BCycle pass had been available and marketed to her as a visitor.

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