Here’s what I’d do…VIA Streetcar

In San Antonio, the city will soon be working on a new mode of street car transportation for a portion of downtown. Here’s a map of the covered area. The price tag is estimated at $280 million to build and $8.5 million a year to maintain. The entire topic has been the focus of a debate with one of the main points that I keep hearing is that San Antonio is one of the few major cities left that doesn’t have light rail / street car. San Antonio – we need to stop comparing ourselves to other cities, not try to play catch up with The Jones, and think outside the box. We are our own unique city, we should think creatively, and consider options that might even be more affordable and adaptable. If I were in charge of this whole mess, here’s what I’d do.

We should run battery powered electric buses.

There are already several different manufacturers of battery powered electric buses including one called Thunder Sky which can carry up to 49 passengers and travel over 220 miles on a 25 minute full charge. They have already proven to be successful. Wikipedia states, “Chattanooga, “Tennessee operates nine zero-fare electric buses, which have been in operation since 1992 and have carried 11.3 million passengers and covered a distance of 3,100,000 kilometres (1,900,000 mi), They were made locally by Advanced Vehicle Systems.”

1. So they can be run at little to no cost.
2. Will cut down emissions to zero.
3. Will not have to tear up streets, create construction, and possibly hurt business affected by construction.
4. Routes will be adaptable because they can run anywhere and not on a track.
5. Could even possibly be built here
6. Retail price of their battery at $432

I could not find the price of a Thunder Sky bus however I did find the cost of a comparable electric bus and it cost $550,000. So at half the cost the build the street car system, we could buy 181 electric buses. That’s probably more buses that we need to cover downtown, I’d say.

Even if you oppose some of this argument or the entire thing, I hope that what you take from it is this: Stop trying to act like “other major cities” and let’s create the San Antonio that we want to live in.



One response to “Here’s what I’d do…VIA Streetcar

  1. I always ask people: Do you use Via now? If Via spent X amount on Z tomorrow- would you use it? The last $280 Million Via spent, did it impact your life because you were using the service?

    After riding Via for almost a year now (all over town, i don’t own a car), there’s a chicken & egg situation. Not enough frequent buses/routes because not enough riders; and not enough riders because not enough buses. I think creating districts with micro/ hyperlocal services that are connected by a monorail thing like Vega has.

    People not only want the cheaper option, they want the faster option. Cars aren’t cheap, but their fast. If people could spend more than 1.35 to get somewhere quicker than Via they would.

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