Could light rail be on the way?


VIA is bringing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to the San Antonio area. Not since VIA first started service 30 years ago have they introduced such a significant and distinctive transit option for San Antonio.

According to the VIA Web site, “BRT uses rubber-tire, high capacity vehicles, improved fare collection systems and controlled traffic signals to move riders more efficiently. Boarding will take place at stations rather than bus stops. In the end, riders using this premier transit service will get to their destinations faster.”

The first BRT line, scheduled to launch in 2012, will be along Fredericksburg Road traveling from the UTSA Main Campus to the South Texas Medical Center and on to downtown San Antonio. This line will change the face of the Fredericksburg Road corridor by offering opportunities for transit-oriented development.

The BRT line is the first step in expanding San Antonio’s mass transit alternatives. SmartWay SA is VIA’s long-term study to identify and prioritize mass transit strategies for the Bexar County area. Such alternatives include bus rapid transit, electric streetcars, light rail, commuter rail and high occupancy vehicle lanes.

In an effort to identify a pilot rail project for the system, a specific focus of the SmartWaySA process will be to identify and recommend elements for an inner-city rail circulator system using modern, historic or replica rail streetcar vehicles.

The rail circulator study will consider what type of operation would leverage the most economic development while providing mobility to the downtown workers, residents and visitors. It will also include the transit facilities and amenities needed to improve efficiency, passenger safety, convenience and use of the entire transit system, all ADA accessible.

Students interested in learning more are invited to attend the next American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Chapter meeting where VIA Strategic Planner, Arturo Herrera JR, will offer further insight into VIA’s long term strategy as well as provide a question and answer forum for students.

The meeting will be held April 7 at 5 p.m. in the Loeffler Room (BSB 3.03.02). Food and soft drinks will be provided.

For more information, contact ASCE Public Relations Officer David Russell at [email protected]