Wednesday, December 11, 2013

North-south first for San Antonio streetcar?

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North-south first for San Antonio streetcar? VIA Metropolitan Transit

Pondering two streetcar route proposals while local anti-rail forces continue to attack the mode, San Antonio’s VIA Metropolitan Transit planners are recommending launch of a north-south streetcar route first, with a complementary east-west alignment to be added later.

VIA’s Board of Trustees voted 4-to-1 Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, to forward the planners’ recommendation to the full board for discussion Dec. 17. Trustee Lou Miller, who voted no, recommended staff wait at least until January to take the issue to the board, according to local media.

The north-south line would cost $163.2 million to build, and would serve roughly 500,000 riders per year, according to VIA Chief Development Officer Brian Buchanan.  Funding from the federal “Small Starts” program will be sought, he said.

Last September VIA trustees asked staff to provide a phased approach to initiating service, including construction of the initial 5.9-mile, $280 million line. <br><br>

The agency hopes to begin construction in 2015, with service commencing sometime in 2017. Buchanan said the projected timeline would hold if VIA starts out building a smaller, north-south leg. <br><br>

Anti-rail voices continue to attack the proposal, saying the effort violates a previous voter referendum that denies local funding for light rail transit.