Stuck Behind The Wheel: Should San Antonio Reconsider Rail?

In 2000 and again in 2014 opposition stopped San Antonio rail projects in their tracks.

By Shelley KoflerJanuary 4, 2017 9:30 am| , , ,

Audio will be available shortly.

From Texas Public Radio

At the Wonderland Mall Transit Center in San Antonio, a lot of commuters, including Tamara Brown, say the VIA bus service they’re picking up is pretty good.

“I think the bus service is great.  They’re like clockwork.

Then we asked Brown a question the City posed in a recent survey:  If you had $100 to spend on improving San Antonio transportation, how would you spend it?  Brown could have said, “Just give me more bus service.”  Instead she said this:

“I would put it towards rail because every city, every state can use a rail line.  It’s faster.  It’s much quicker, more efficient.”

Survey Shows Support for Rail

A lot of San Antonio residents answering the city survey for the SA Tomorrow Plan also preferred rail to bus.

They said they’d spend $30 out of the $100 on rail- almost the same as the $32 they’d spend on roads.  They’d only devote $12 to buses.

That doesn’t surprise VIA President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Arndt who says transportation professionals acknowledge a “rail bias.”  He says some drivers will get out of their cars to ride a train but they won’t board a bus.

“My experience is the thing that makes rail more attractive and feel safer is you know it’s going to stay on a rail.  You don’t have to worry that it’s going to turn a corner and you may find yourself in a place you didn’t expect to go,” Arndt explained.

Arndt says interest in rail comes from a lot of people moving into San Antonio who’ve lived in cities with that have it.  Tamara Brown, for example, grew up riding trains in Chicago.

In Texas, Dallas, Houston and Austin all provide some level of rail service.