VIA Metro Transit CEO Jeff Arndt told his annual 'State of Transit' event that VIA is moving forward with improvements that will make local mass transit more attractive to more riders, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
More transportation options are seen as the key to the major county wide transportation plan which is expected to be set before the voters this fall.
Arndt says that will include more frequent bus service, a rapid transit network that bypasses traffic, and innovative solutions that offer faster, easier options.
Mayor Nirenberg has proposed what are called 'trackless trains,' buses that look like trains, with multiple cars and amenities, but run on rubber tires not on steel tracks, but on designated lanes where they can ignore red lights and speed past congestion. That is expected to be the centerpiece of the county transportation plan.
Arndt says the key is in not waiting for the bus. He says when service is increased, ridership rises substantially. VIA's plans include speedier boarding thanks to technology, increased service on main routes, and dedicated lanes to help bus passengers wave goodbye to traffic jams.
“We’re not waiting, we’re going, and we’re beginning with a Better Bus System that supports a network of Advanced Rapid Transit lines and uses high-capacity vehicles to move more people in protected lanes-outside of regular traffic and congestion. Imagine that,” he said. “And in addition to reducing congestion, VIA Reimagined is about transforming lives and connecting people to the places that are important to them, important to our economic development, to educational attainment, to family and friends, and our overall quality of life.”
VIA currently operates largely on a half cent sales tax voters approved back in 1977, but Arndt says other Texas cities have surpassed San Antonio in mass transit, because VIA gets the least funding of any major transit system in Texas, despite serving, in many cases, a larger geographic area. How to properly fund mass transit is also expected to be in the countywide transportation plan.