State Rep. Lyle Larson says it is time for Via and the City of San Antonio to scrap their plans for the expensive streetcar through downtown San Antonio, calling it a 'financial Titanic,' 1200 WOAI news reports.
"My question to each of you is this: would you invest your own money in this project with all the information you have ascertained over the last two years?' Larson asked Via Metro trustees in a letter provided to 1200 WOAI news.
"Trustees, it is not too late to do the right thing: scrap this idea and move forward in a responsible way," Larson said. "The egos of a few individuals who are fervently pushing this financial Titanic may be bruised in the process, but our community will be better served by using the funding identified for the streetcar where it can actually help Via passengers and increase mobility in ALL part of Bexar County.
One argument that streetcar opponents have raised about the ambitious project is that Via will be forced to cut bus service to pay for debt service on the streetcar. Some have even labeled the project as 'racist' because it will reduce bus service to poor neighborhoods to provide streetcar service to wealthy downtown elites.
Larson says the Capital Metro streetcar project in Austin is a perfect example of the drain that San Antonio is about to toss its tax money into.
I would like to suggest that all the trustees pay a visit to Austin to observe how few individuals actually use the streetcar and learn how the system is wholly subsidized by Austin taxpayers," Larson said.
Larson cites the unpopularity of the San Antonio proposal, and how Via was forced to swap funding with TxDOT, and how that places 'the merits of this project and the process undertaken to build it in question.'
Larson also blasts the streetcar plan's lack of transparency.
The project chosen by Via last week will cost $280 million, not counting any projected cost overruns, and will require that Via come up with at least $70 million more taxpayer dollars to build the streetcar.
The private companies downtown which would allegedly benefit from the streetcar have declined the opportunity to help pay for it.