VIA talks about its increasing ridership, its new routes and its future plans

With rising gas prices, more people are taking the bus, CEO says

VIA Metropolitan Transit helps thousands of people around Bexar County get from point A to point B.

SAN ANTONIO – VIA Metropolitan Transit helps thousands of people around Bexar County get from point A to point B.

Recently, as gas prices have gone up, so has ridership, and there are even big plans on the horizon.

“I ride the bus for one reason. I work overnights, and it’s safer for me to take the bus,” Monica Perez said.

Perez is one of the thousands who use VIA transportation.

“It’s double digit in one month at least. So I know we’re 6% for the year, but that includes the earlier months. So we’re 6% increase for the year,” Jeffrey C. Arndt, president and CEO of VIA said.

Arndt said historically when gas prices get to a certain point, more people use public transportation. It happened back in 2012 and 2013 and it’s happening again now.

One of the issues though VIA is facing is not enough drivers.

“Right now we have a shortage of bus operators,” Arndt said. “We are short and we are looking to hire about 160 operators.”

VIA is also looking for mechanics. For those interested, they are offering big incentive bonuses. To apply, just click here.

A big project on the horizon for VIA in San Antonio is their Advanced Rapid Transit program.

“Technologically, we’re not doing anything that hasn’t already been done somewhere across the country. I mean, bus rapid transit lines are becoming more and more prevalent across the country. We call ours Advance Rapid Transit, because the vehicle will not be a regular bus, as we see it now. It will be an electric bus or a zero emission bus, and it will have to have doors on both sides of the vehicle,” Arndt said.

There are even preliminary plans for an East-West line.

“The East-West line will complement what we created, because of the North-South one. And the East-West line travels along Commerce Street downtown and then to Houston Street to about the AT&T Center,” Arndt said.

As for the future of the VIA, on top of the advanced rapid transit program set for 2027 VIA is also working to make public transportation more direct and easier.

“We are going to have service that will run into the airport, right into the terminal area. And so now, you can get on a bus, down to Brooks or up in Stone Oak and get a direct trip to the airport. Or from downtown, because it travels through downtown,” Arndt said.

And as for Monica Perez, she said she doesn’t understand why more people aren’t taking advantage of the services.

“We have busses for a reason and they’re not like 40 years ago, you know? 30 years ago, we didn’t have Wi-Fi didn’t have anything like that. So I don’t know what would be the real issue of riding the bus you know?” Perez said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.