VIA Brakes on Streetcars

By Don Morgan and Bill O'Neil

A deferment--not a cancellation for VIA's Downtown Streetcar plan. 

Board Members said they will respect decisions reached by the City and County this week in which both dropped their support for the project. Instead, VIA will focus on a new transportation plan--which will include some familiar themes. 

"That includes rail in some aspect or another--streetcars--the Primo Bus Line, bus rapid transit, and a number of other alternatives like that" said VIA Board Chairman Alex Briseno, who added he has little doubt rail will be an important part of San Antonio's transportation future. 

"We're not going to be able to expand I-10, and buy out all of the businesses and properties alongside" Briseno said. 

Critics of the project meanwhile are not happy with what they heard from VIA.  

"Deferred doesn't mean we're done--so, what I think they're looking at the the opportunity to bring this back in the future" said Greg Brockhouse, who is part of the movment pushing for a vote in November on changing the City Charter--a movement created out of criticism of the project. 

Brockhouse told 550 KTSA's Jack Riccardi he's not sure how many times VIA needs to hear "no" from the people before it gets the message. 

"They put countless full page ads in the newspaper, they've taken this on the road. According to their own words, they've walked this out in hundreds of meetings--and the community still said no" Brockhouse said.  

Other critics are looking for a refund check from VIA--specifically $92 million dollars the transit agency recieved from the State in a swap of funds--with the cash earmarked to be used on the streetcar project. 

"If the purpose of that money has changed, then we need to bring it back and look at what's the best use of a very limited resource in a critical time" Republican Candidate for Bexar County JUdge Carlton Soules told 550 KTSA's Jack Riccardi. 

VIA said it will focus the cash on buses and other projects.    


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Locations : San Antonio
People : Alex BrisenoCarlton SoulesGreg BrockhouseJack Riccardi
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