UTSA professor suggests new transportation system in San Antonio

Mayor announces formation of group tasked with fueling ideas for transportation

By Patty Santos - Reporter, Deven Clarke - News Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - University of Texas at San Antonio transportation professor Jose Weissmann said a bus rapid transit system, or BRT, is the most feasible option for San Antonio's population density and will address growth needs.

"The way we move around is going to have to change," he said.

A BRT involves busses with lanes specifically for them, which restrict passenger vehicle traffic.

"(BRT) has been a worldwide proven solution for moving people around. It is feasible. Third-world countries apply them," Weissmann said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced Tuesday that he’s formed a nonprofit group to create a ballot initiative to come up with a modern transportation system for the city.

The group ConnectSA will research, build and support a plan that will be on the May 2019 ballot.

Chief of Policy Marisa Bono said the city has been dragging its feet for years on tackling the problem, and congestion is only getting worse as the city grows.

“Everyone is feeling the pressure now. It used to be that you could get anywhere in San Antonio in 30 minutes or less any time of the day, and that's just not the case anymore,” she said. “People see the traffic woes. People in Houston face the traffic woes in cities like Los Angeles and other parts of the country.”

The group will come up with a funding mechanism for the plan. Bono believes that, this time, community leaders have a sense of urgency. The mayor wants forward-thinking ideas.

“Light rail is a technology of the past. It's not something we think makes sense for San Antonio at this time, but there are a lot of new technologies that are emerging — things like trackless trains, trackless buses. Whatever we put in place, we want to make sure it's future-proof,” she said.

Weissman is also opposed to a light rail system in San Antonio.

"They have an issue that if you didn't set up your routes correctly, it's harder for you to realign them and go after other ridership," he said.

The ConnectSA chairs are Hope Andrades, Henry Cisneros and Jane Macon.  The group expects to have a plan by the end of the year.  

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