Major Proposal Up for Council Vote Seeks to Vastly Expand Mass Transit Use

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City Council this week will take the biggest step yet in changing the way transportation and development occurs in San Antonio in the coming decades, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Council will give final approval to the SA Corridors plan, which will designate 12 major throughfares across the city, like San Pedro, Nacogdoches, and Fredericksburg Roads, as 'VIA Corridors,' with a designated mass transit-only lane on each road, much like an HOV lane on a surface street. VIA President Jeff Arndt says that means the bus will be able to travel on its own lane on surface streets, just like the HOV lanes currently under construction on I-10 and US 281.

"It gives you highly reliable travel time, fast travel time, high frequency," he said.  "Those are the kinds of ingredients with are, quite frankly, not present in the current bus system."

He says the buses which travel in their own lanes will make infrequent stops, and will be able to bypass the traffic jams and wrecks which slow traffic during morning and afternoon commutes.  He says people won't take the bus if they're just going to sit in the same traffic jams as people in their cars.

"The primary thing is, the service itself is high frequency, limited stops, and more reliable."

Arndt says, with the vote of the people, which is required under the City Charter, the 'bus only' lanes on the SA Corridors could also be used for light rail.

And then, the city will incentivize the development of offices, shops, small businesses, and housing developments along or near the corridors, to make using mass transit more attractive.

"The City will be adopting a framework for how you will deal with land use planning, incentives and regulation, that are near the nodes along the rapid transit corridor."

The idea is to build what are called 'transit communities,' that will not only convince middle class commuters to stop driving alone in their cars.  City planners say as San Antonio grows in the coming two decades, that current situation will become unsustainable, especially in a city that currently sprawls over 500 square miles.

"Transit cannot run effectively if destinations, people and jobs are spread out and difficult to access," states the master plan for the corridors project.  "Transit supported places give residents and workers a range of mobility options and recreational opportunities, as well as access to key destinations, like work and school, within a short distance to home."

Arndt predicts that by 2030, as the SA Corridors plan is placed into operation, San Antonio transit patterns will change dramatically, with middle class commuters utilizing mass transit far more frequently, as is currently done in transit friendly communities like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, and, increasingly, in Dallas and Austin.

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