By Hope Andrade, VIA Board Chair
We listened with great interest to the Mayor’s speech Tuesday and are aligned with the priorities he has proposed to speed recovery for our great city.
VIA is not seeking to fund the transit improvement plan outlined in ConnectSA. We are seeking support for a new transit recovery plan to drive economic mobility and cover the shortfall caused by COVID’s impact on our community.
Throughout this crisis, VIA has shifted our focus to keep San Antonio moving and putting opportunity within everyone’s reach to uplift our community. With support from our frontline transit workers—the VIA heroes—we’ve adapted and evolved quickly to keep essential service intact, ensure people can make necessary trips, frontline workers can keep their jobs, and families can reach the goods and services they need to survive.
VIA is looking ahead to preserve the lifeline that our service provides in what will be an uncertain future for us all. In preparing, we know one thing for sure: we can’t have economic mobility without access to basic mobility first.
That’s why VIA is committed to keeping our wheels in motion to provide the transit system our community needs and deserves.
We’re planning for new challenges and bracing for significant financial losses so that we can continue to be there for our city, throughout this crisis and while we recover from it, together.
We agree that we cannot allow where we live determine how well we live or how far we can go in San Antonio. ZIP codes should not stand as boundaries to opportunity. The only way to bridge the canyon-sized gaps in equity for our community is to literally and figuratively stay connected through mobility.
We cannot offer the keys to survival and sustainability to only those who can afford the keys to a car.
VIA stands ready to be partners against hunger, unemployment, inequality and the injustice of economic segregation and has already begun the hard work that’s needed to bring real change.
But let’s be honest. The funding VIA receives is not enough to get us through this or move us forward.
Too often we hear that opportunity is denied because of the infrequency of service. Many times, working people are forced into two hours or more for a commute to get from where they can afford to live and where their jobs are located. We can make difficult decisions to make positive changes now so they don’t have to make hard choices later.
The VIA Board believes we have an opportunity to not just recover but to emerge from this crisis as a community stronger and more connected than before. We understand the need to connect our workforce to their jobs, connect the unemployed to new training classes, connect students to schools and connect those who need care to services. We are committed to providing a transit system that connects them conveniently and safely. Our riders deserve a public transit system that can get them there without having to plan for a two-hour trip.
We believe it’s time to be honest with ourselves and our community. Our economy cannot recover if we cannot connect. Transit is a critical piece of the plan to put San Antonio back to work and on a better path than we were before. We’ve all learned from this pandemic. Let’s get to work, together.