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San Antonio - November 2011

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San Antonio — Funding Sought for Second Streetcar

Rail Transit Online, November 2011

November 9 - Less than a week after the city council approved funding for a downtown streetcar line, the top elected official in Bexar County began a campaign to find money to build a second route that would complete a proposed starter system.

The initial project would run east and north from the Alamodome to just north of Interstate 35 and be completed by 2015 or 2016. County Judge Nelson Wolff wants to add branches to the west and south that will cost between $66 million and $70 million.

The county has approved $55 million for the first phase, which will include two transit centers and other transportation projects. The city will contribute another $40 million and the final $15 million will be raised through a special assessment district. Wolff has been told that no federal funding will be available for the second line, so the extra cash will have to come from VIA Metropolitan Transit and the county. VIA President and CEO Keith Parker said he will start a search for the additional money after he knows how much the county will contribute. But, he told the Express-News, financing the expanded streetcar system will not harm "...our long-term capital needs and without in any way, shape or form harming our operations." Wolff said he has appointed Precinct 2 Commissioner Paul Elizondo "...to develop a joint plan with the county and VIA to come up with additional resources." Said Elizondo, "We can get the thing going if we just allocate our resources properly."

Full Streetcar Now Funded

November 23 - The complete downtown streetcar starter system has been fully funded, an accomplishment that occurred with unusual speed for this type of project.

The announcement was made at the site of the future West Side Multimodal Center on Nov. 10 by Bexar County's top elected official, Judge Nelson Wolff, who told the crowd, "Alright, we're ready to get on the rail and ride to success." Wolff said he had obtained $59 million, enough to build both an east-west and north-south line; two weeks earlier there was sufficient financing for a single line running north and east from the Alamodome to just north of Interstate 35.

The plan also includes construction of two downtown transit centers, bus stop improvements downtown and two peripheral park-and-ride lots.

The new financing deal calls for Bexar County and VIA Metropolitan Transit to each contribute $92 million, while the City of San Antonio's share will remain unchanged at $55 million. Bexar County originally planned to give $55 million but leveraged the extra money by allowing VIA to access additional bonding capacity.

VIA expanded its share by shifting dollars from its bus replacement fund.


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