SA mayor, Bexar County judge’s recommendation for new VIA board chairman plans to keep the course

Chairwoman Hope Andrade to leave her role on Nov. 30

SA mayor, Bexar County judge’s recommendation for new VIA board chairman plans to keep the course

SAN ANTONIO – The man the Bexar County judge and San Antonio mayor have recommended to lead VIA Metropolitan Transit indicated he would plan to push ahead with plans to expand mobility options and improve service.

With current chairwoman Hope Andrade reaching a collective eight years on the VIA board of trustees and leaving her role on Nov. 30, the board is expected to elect a new chairman in December. Though the decision is up to the board, Judge Nelson Wolff and Mayor Ron Nirenberg have recommended local businessman Fernando Reyes to get the job.

Reyes is the chairman of two tier one suppliers to Toyota -- Reyes Automotive Group II and Reyes AmTex Automotive -- and was the treasurer of the Yes For Mobility PAC, which supported the successful campaign to introduce a 1/8 cent sales tax for transit. Though the estimated $38.5 million annually from the tax won’t go to the Advanced Transportation District -- from which VIA gets a cut -- until 2026, Reyes would presumably have a hand in preparing the agency for that money.

VIA’s CEO has said the tax would help the agency increase bus service in the core service area, expand mobility options further out, and begin planning for an “Advanced Rapid Transit” system. In an interview with KSAT, Reyes indicated he plans to continue moving the agency along that same path, which Andrade had championed in her final months as chairwoman.

“I think that’s what the citizens of San Antonio passed. I don’t think I’m going in there to change it. And my whole point would be: ‘Is there something that we could do more effectively within the mandates that the citizens of San Antonio gave us and the leaders of our city?’” Reyes said.

Though Reyes said Tuesday he had spoken with Andrade, he had not spoken with any of the other trustees, and for that reason, he declined to expand on any plans he may have for different course of action with the agency.

“I want to listen to them before I start throwing out mandates or changes or whatever,” Reyes said.

Andrade’s departure from the board is a matter of state-mandated term limits. She had previously served as chairwoman from 2015 to 2019, when former District 4 Councilman Rey Saldana took over.

However, she returned to the role earlier this year after Saldana left to take a job with a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

In a written statement provided to KSAT on Tuesday, Andrade said the following:

“It has been my privilege to serve on the VIA Board for a collective eight years, and to be ending my final term on a distinctly high note, with renewed optimism for what the future holds for VIA, our city, and community.

“I am inspired by the leadership our Trustees have shown, particularly during these challenging times. I’m thankful they elected me to be their Chair, for their commitment to improve transit and mobility for our region, and for the work they have done to advance our shared mission. I’m honored to have been a part of it.

As my tenure is scheduled to end on November 30, I’m looking forward to seeing a continuation of the work we began with a newly elected Chair, for whom I wish the success and fulfillment I enjoyed during my time in service. Thank you.”

A VIA spokeswoman said Andrade is expected to be asked to holdover and preside over the meeting in December when the trustees elect their new chairman. A meeting is scheduled for Dec. 15, but no agenda has been posted.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.