VIA officials celebrate milestone for planned Advanced Rapid Transit system

FTA recently gave proposed plans a favorable rating, which could mean federal funding

SAN ANTONIO – Plans for San Antonio’s first Advanced Rapid Transit system have been in development since 2020 and recently the project reached a new milestone, which could mean federal funding.

VIA President and CEO, Jeffery Ardnt believes an ART system will be convenient for passengers.

“ART will be a high-frequency service,” he said.

The system is part of the voter-approved Keep San Antonio Moving Plan, which secured funding for transit projects and other area improvements.

However, VIA officials are specifically eying a Capitol Improvement Grant.

“You don’t automatically get it. You have to meet certain requirements,” Ardnt said.

The CIG is a program with the Federal Transit Administration. The grant funds large capitol projects, but there’s a list of necessary requirements.

The FTA must first give the plans an approval rating. Ardnt said VIA requested an early evaluation and received a medium-high rating.

According to VIA, that is the second-highest rating possible. Ardnt said that gives them the drive to move their plans forward.

“It gives us a very high level of confidence that we have a project that the FTA is going to be willing to fund in the cycle,” he said.

VIA is currently in the project development phase. Some of the features include dedicated lanes, off board fare collection, and leveled platforms.

The goal is to make future trips fast and easy.

The proposed line would stretch along the north and south corridors of San Pedro Avenue and would connect some the county’s most frequented areas for working commuters. Ardnt said that starts with both the Medical Center area and the San Antonio International Airport.

“It serves two of the three largest employment centers in Bexar County,” he said.

VIA hopes the proposed ART system will connect people to their employment opportunities, especially those who rely on the service.

Although the project still has miles to go, Ardnt said VIA will stay ahead of the curve.

“We’re seeing continued growth. We anticipate a lot of growth so our transportation network needs to be prepared,” Ardnt said.

VIA will host several public meetings throughout the year to get the community’s input. Officials hope to complete the project by 2027.

About the Authors:

Steven Cavazos is a traffic anchor and general assignments reporter on weekday mornings at KSAT 12. He is also part of the Solutionaries team. He has deep South Texas roots: born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, graduated from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and worked in Harlingen and Corpus Christi before coming to KSAT 12 in 2019.