VIA is Driving the Future

Celebrating 40 years of VIA service and a more mobile future for our community.

 

“We’re Going Places”

VIA Metropolitan Transit rolled out it’s first buses in 1978, taking it’s name from the Latin word for “Road” and adopting the tag line: “We’re Going Places.” 

The agency replaced the city-run San Antonio Transit System and began the next generation of public transportation in San Antonio and Bexar County.

VIA was created in 1977 when voters approved a half-cent sales tax to fund services. Additional funding came in 2004 when voters approved the formation of the Advanced Transportation District and a quarter-cent sales tax to expand operations.

In its first 40 years, VIA established itself among the best transit agencies in the nation with recognition for safety, reliability, and innovation. In 1990, the American Public Transportation Association named VIA the Best Transit Agency in North America.

The Texas Transit Association has named VIA the Outstanding Metropolitan Transit System in Texas ve times, most recently in March 2018 as it marked four decades of service.

“Driving the Future” 

Today, VIA’s efforts to advance public transportation are transforming our community. The agency is focused on improved service, innovative passenger amenities, and strategic partnerships to set new milestones for transit in the region.

As VIA celebrates 40 years of mobility solutions, the agency is re ecting on its role in the community and looking toward the future.

While still funded with the half-cent sales tax approved in 1977, VIA provides nearly 40 million passenger trips per year and travels over 1,200 square miles in Bexar County. We are investing in innovation and using transit technology to change the passenger experience in the nation’s seventh-largest city.

New high-frequency routes and improved service, a state-of-the-art transit hub, award-winning mobile app, and move to cleaner, ‘greener’ buses have de ned VIA’s recent progress.

It was the first major transit agency in the country to provide free systemwide Wi-Fi and the first to provide riders instant access to an all-digital library. VIA’s conversion to a Compressed Natural Gas fleet began in 2017 and, when completed, will reduce NOx emissions by 97 percent.

In 2018, VIA will dedicate its 10-lane CNG fueling station, the largest in North America, proving its vision for a sustainable, more mobile future.

 

Read More: Community Leaders Commemorate VIA’s Four Decades of Transportation

 

VIA Then and Now 

 

Timeline 

1977

By a 5 to 3 margin, residents in San Antonio and five suburban areas vote to establish VIA Metropolitan Transit.

1978

VIA begins operations.

1979

Residents in unincorporated areas of Bexar County and suburban cities of China Grove and Grey Forest vote in VIA service by a margin of 10 to 1.

1980

The 25-foot Chance bus is introduced. VIA’s Maintenance department unveils a newly designed air-conditioning system for buses that sparks national interest.

1981

VIA announces plans for downtown streetcar service. The San Antonio Streetcar is the result of years of design work by VIA, the San Antonio Conservation Society, and the Historic Review Board. The Buppets are also introduced as the spokespeople for the transit agency.

1983

Streetcar service begins.

1985

TriParty Plan to improve downtown transportation and pedestrian traffic is approved.

1987

For the third consecutive year, VIA receives the American Public Transit Association’s first place “Silver Award” for safety. Additionally, VIA is the official transportation coordinator for the 1987 Papal Visit.

1988

VIA introduces the Automated Vehicle Monitoring System, an innovative bus management and communication system capable of monitoring the activity of VIA’s fleet.

1990

VIA is named Best Transit System in North America by the American Public Transit Association. VIA opens an on-site Child Development Center, the first of its kind in the transit industry.

1991

The TriParty project is completed. VIA receives its first award from the Government Finance Officers Association for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

1992

VIA launches lift-equipped bus service with the introduction of wheelchair-accessible buses.

1993

The Robert Thompson Transit Station opens.

1994

VIA ranks second in the nation for cost-effectiveness by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. VIA becomes charter member of CLEAR, a statewide environmental alliance.

1995

VIA receives Achievement Award for bus safety from the American Public Transit Association for the third consecutive year.

1996

VIA introduces Transit Bike Patrol to provide a safer transit environment for bus patrons in the downtown area.

1997

VIA introduces the Ozone Season Pass. VIA installs bicycle racks on buses as part of a pilot program, allowing bus patrons to take their bikes with them on bus trips.

1998

The Federal Transit Administration names VIA “Moving Kids Safely Champion” for its “Classroom on Wheels” program.

1999

The Riverwalk Streetcar Station opens, a result of a partnership between VIA, the City of San Antonio, and the San Antonio Water System; the Streetcar Station provides the first public connection to the Riverwalk that is wheelchair-accessible. VIA’s first low-floor buses (40-foot) from North American Bus Industries are introduced.

2000

VIA begins taking delivery of the agency’s first propane-powered buses (30-foot) manufactured by Champion.

2001

Work begins on the Comprehensive Service Plan, a system-wide assessment of VIA’s bus services that will result in increased productivity and efficiency; new bus routes, schedules, and services planned. Bicycle racks are installed on all VIA buses (excluding streetcars). New Automatic Vehicle Location system replaces previous monitoring system; AVL system uses global positioning technology to better track the activity of VIA’s fleet.

2002

The Customer Information Center at the Ellis Alley Park and Ride opens, a result of combined conservation efforts with S.A. Conservation Society and neighborhood groups; the facility was fashioned out of two historic homes on the near East Side. VIA begins hiring officers for its transit police force.

2003

VIA implements a new system of bus routes as a result of the Comprehensive Service Plan. VIA begins using ultra-low-sulfur diesel in new buses (40-foot) manufactured by New Flyer of America. The first of 400 new advertising shelters are installed. The Child Development Center is recognized by the City of San Antonio as a “Texas Rising Star Provider”. Construction begins on a new transit facility to replace the Kel-Lac Park and Ride.

2004

The new Kel-Lac Transit Center opens. The Propane Education and Research Council recognizes VIA for its use of propane with the Propane Exceptional Energy Fleet Award. VIA is recognized as the Outstanding Metropolitan Transit Agency for 2003 by the Texas Transit Association. The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve recognizes VIA as a Five Star Employer. Voters in San Antonio approve the Advanced Transportation District by 58 per cent.

2005

VIA’s aging streetcar fleet is replaced by new vehicles that are enclosed, air-conditioned, powered by propane engines, and accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

2006

Installation begins on 700 new bus shelters. Starlight service begins, effectively providing public transportation 24 hours a day. Vanpool service is introduced. The aging VIAtrans van fleet is replaced by new vehicles.

2007

VIA begins selling passes and tickets online through the agency’s Web site.

2008

Solar panels are installed on the Madla Transit Center to provide power for the facility.

2009

VIA enters into an agreement with CPS Energy to receive wind-generated electricity for all of the agency’s power needs. The Downtown Information Center is opened on Commerce Street at Flores Street. VIA receives a grant in the amount of $5 million to purchase and operate three electric-powered buses in the downtown area.

2010

Four CNG buses and 30 diesel-electric hybrid buses are added to VIA’s fleet. The North Star Transit Center is opened. Free WiFi access is made available at all VIA information centers.

2011

VIA is recognized as the Outstanding Metropolitan Transit Agency for 2010 by the Texas Transit Association. VIA completes work on the Long Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan, which guides the agency in developing future high-capacity transit corridors.

2012

VIA is recognized as the Outstanding Metropolitan Transit Agency for 2011 by the Texas Transit Association. VIA Prímo bus rapid transit service begins operations.

2013

VIA’s first all-electric, battery-powered buses enter service. VIA Prímo is extended to serve Leon Valley. VIA implements the E-Fare system.

2014

VIA breaks ground on the Stone Oak Park & Ride facility and on the Centro Plaza project. The agency’s executive offices are moved into The Grand at VIA Villa, a historic rail depot restored for modern transit needs.

2015

VIA opens Centro Plaza at VIA Villa, a modern, state-of-the-art transit plaza just west of the downtown area. Free 4G LTE WiFi service is introduced to all of VIA’s revenue buses and vans, making VIA the largest public transportation provider in the nation to offer WiFi service systemwide.

2016

VIA is recognized as the Outstanding Metropolitan Transit Agency for 2015 by the Texas Transit Association . VIA partners with Bexar County’s BiblioTech to launch “Ride & Read,” an initiative to connect riders to the nation’s first all-digital library. VIA approves the VIA Vision 2040 Long Range Plan, which outlines the community’s vision for transit development.

2017

VIA begins its historic conversion to a fleet powered completely by compressed natural gas. VIA introduces the free “goMobile” app to expand access to convenient planning and fare technology. VIA completes its 1000th bus stop improvement with new shelters, providing sheltered locations for 95 percent of boardings throughout the service area.

2018

VIA is recognized as the Outstanding Metropolitan Transit Agency for 2017 by the Texas Transit Association.