VIA to seek federal funding to expedite Advanced Rapid Transit expansion

The Alamo City agency could lock in as much as $150 million to support its plan for a second line.

Rendering of a planned VIA Advanced Rapid Transit line passing through downtown San Antonio on dedicated roadway. (VIA (via San Antonio Business Journal))

SAN ANTONIO – After clearing key hurdles in its quest to deliver the region’s first advanced rapid transit line by 2027, VIA Metropolitan Transit is now pursuing an alternate federal funding route for a second ART corridor.

That pivot could speed up the approval process and the construction of an East-West line to complement the agency’s North-South plan already in motion.

The estimated cost to build an ART route running east to west in the Alamo City is roughly $300 million, according to VIA CEO Jeffrey Arndt. The agency could secure up to half that amount through the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts Capital Investment Grants Program.

It’s a different approach than VIA is taking with the North-South line with its pursuit of a higher federal funding match through the FTA’s New Starts grant program. But the payoff could be an earlier completion date.

“Small Starts is a streamlined program that leads to fewer FTA decision points between beginning the project and achieving grant funding,” Arndt said.

If VIA had mimicked its FTA funding strategy for its North-South, or Green Line, the agency would have had more flexibility.

“But it’s a longer process,” he said, noting there is also no guarantee VIA would qualify for a larger share of federal funding.

VIA will still need to meet certain FTA requirements before securing Small Starts funding, including identifying other funding sources and completing sufficient engineering and design work for the proposed East-West, or Silver Line, project.

The plan, Arndt said, is to have that second ART line operational by 2029. It would complement VIA’s initial Green Line that will run on dedicated roadway from the airport area through downtown and to the Missions area south of the center city.

Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.

Click here to read the full story in the San Antonio Business Journal.