Former San Antonio City Councilman was instrumental in VIA’s recent ridership growth
Former San Antonio City Councilman Rey Saldaña was unanimously elected Tuesday, June 25, 2019, as Chairman of the VIA Metropolitan Board of Trustees with an initial term to lead the agency’s governing body through 2020. Saldaña succeeds Hope Andrade, who was first elected as chair in January 2015 and is credited with leading VIA through some of its most transformative years.
“We are grateful for the leadership of Chair Andrade and our Board, which has brought VIA into an era of growth and innovation,” VIA President and CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt said. “And we are eager to keep moving forward under Chairman Saldaña’s vision for a more mobile future—a ‘Decade of Mobility’ that will change the course for our community.”
Saldaña recently completed eight years as the District 4 representative on the San Antonio City Council, where he was recognized as a transit champion and advocate to increase VIA funding, the least-funded major metropolitan transit agency in Texas. He notably spent a month taking only public transportation, to learn firsthand how the community experiences mobility challenges.
His experience with long wait times and few options sparked a conversation among city leaders that led to a funding and planning partnership with VIA that commits $10 million annually from the City of San Antonio to help cut wait times and increase frequency. Improvements on key routes began in January 2018. A direct result of this partnership is significant increases in ridership for the routes that have been enhanced by additional investments. The increase is lifting VIA’s overall ridership at a time when the transit industry is seeing nationwide declines.
Saldaña’s advocacy of transit issues caught the attention of the Texas Transit Association (TTA) earlier this year. He was named the TTA Friend of Transit at the association’s annual Conference and Expo in El Paso, Texas, an honor that is bestowed upon an individual who does not work in public transportation but has gone above and beyond to further a Texas transit agency.
TOP PHOTO: Outgoing VIA Board Chair Hope Andrade swears in Rey Saldaña as her successor during the VIA Board of Trustees monthly meeting on June 25, 2019.