Joint plan secures future funding for transit, covers workforce training and education needs today

VIA Metropolitan Transit and the City of San Antonio have collaborated to identify a path for potential use of a 1/8-cent share of sales tax that provides immediate funding to assist with the region’s economic recovery and a long-term solution to chronic underfunding for transit.

Voters in the November General Election would be asked to consider ultimately allocating the sales tax portion to the Advanced Transportation District (ATD), while dedicating a revenue stream in the near-term to city-sponsored programs such as workforce development and vocational training opportunities aimed at assisting families in San Antonio and throughout Bexar County.

The City’s and VIA’s items will draw from the same increment of sales tax, with the recovery funding coming first, followed by a permanent dedication of transportation funding. The details of these ballot initiatives will be developed in the coming weeks, with both VIA and the City calling a vote on their respective plans by mid-August for placement on the November 3 ballot.

For weeks, VIA Trustees have asserted they would do “what is right and necessary” to bring the issue to the voters in November, including directing VIA leadership and staff to continue working on a partnership plan that includes public transit as key to the success of local economic recovery and addresses long-term growth in the region.

Under the joint proposal, voters can choose to support economic mobility, through investments in workforce training and education, and actual mobility though public transportation improvements.

“By working together, we have crafted a plan for recovering from the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically changed our community’s employment landscape,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “This approach will prepare San Antonians for jobs with a future while ensuring the long-term health of our transit system.”

Speaking on behalf of VIA trustees, VIA Board Chair Hope Andrade thanked City and County leaders for their support. “We appreciate the Mayor and County Judge for the work they do on behalf of our community, including their longtime role as champions for VIA and public transportation,” Andrade said. “This collaboration is a significant step toward making sure no San Antonian gets left behind. It allows us to move together toward recovery and is a testament to what is possible when we work for a common goal,” Andrade said. “By asking voters to prioritize long-term funding for public transportation we can secure a viable resource that provides access to lifeline services our community needs and deserves.”

VIA President and CEO Jeffrey Arndt added Thursday that a joint effort which supports local recovery plans ultimately serves essential workers, families, and businesses and “creates a win/win” for our community. “A sustainable future funding source for VIA will ensure we can meet the growing transportation needs of the region, moving forward,” Arndt said. “It means we can preserve vital connections and develop more equitable access to the opportunity that public transit can deliver.”