Streetcar opponents drop VIA lawsuit

State AG denies VIA bond proposal

Author: Charles Gonzalez, Reporter, Anchor,
Published On: Nov 15 2013 05:17:57 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 15 2013 09:09:20 PM CST

A group of opponents to VIA's proposed streetcar project dropped a lawsuit against the transit company after they said the state attorney general's decision to deny a bond proposal by VIA accomplished their goal and supported their claims.

On Friday, a group of opponents to VIA's proposed streetcar project dropped a lawsuit against the transit company that claimed VIA was attempting to use certain tax revenue for streetcar improvements which went against a promise by VIA that the money would not fund light rail. They dropped the lawsuit after the state attorney general denied a bond proposal by VIA to use nearly $33 million of the revenue for improvements at two downtown multimodal centers and other new transit centers.

"In 2004, the contract promised us that they would not use these funds for a streetcar project," said George Lejos, of LULAC. "Give us back our money to use on other projects, not streetcars."

"They're simply wrong in their allegation that the monies being derived from those particular bonds was not earmarked in any way for use with the streetcar," said VIA's Chief of Public Engagement Charlie Gonzalez. "We made it abundantly clear that this is about the West side mulitmodal transit center which is a vast improvement and investment on the west side of San Antonio, not just for our customers but for redevelopment."

Opponents spoke out against the streetcar project this morning but Gonzalez said the plan will move forward and any improvements at downtown centers for the streetcar have not been finalized.

"If any improvements have to made to any existing transit centers in order to accommodate the streetcar, that will be done with non-ATD revenue bonds or funds," said Gonzalez.

VIA is still waiting on an official reason for the denial of the bond but Gonzalez said they are looking at other avenues to get the project approved. Aside from improving two downtown multimodal centers, the funds would also help develop a park and ride at Highway 281 and Stone Oak and one at Brooks City Base.

"It is going to cost VIA riders and taxpayers because of this delay we're not going to be able to make these improvements as scheduled for our existing facilities and services provided to bus riders," said Gonzalez.

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