New budget reflects COVID-19’s economic impact

VIA Metropolitan Transit Board of Trustees adopted its FY21 Operating Budget Tuesday by a unanimous vote. The new $247.5 million budget reflects no fare increases.

The FY2021 operating budget is lower than the previous year’s by more than $1.9 million, the result of cost-saving measures and a projected decrease in sales tax revenue next year. It includes no fare increases, no active staff reductions, re-balances service levels to match customer demand and social distancing protocols, new Mobility-on-Demand service in the Northwest Service Zone and Sandy Oaks.
“The new budget focuses on maintaining the connection for people traveling to jobs, grocery stores, health care appointments, and other essential destinations,” VIA President/CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt said. “Our priority is to provide safe service while our community continues to adjust to changing economic and social conditions, as we welcome back riders and keep San Antonio moving forward.”

In addition to the operating budget, the Board unanimously approved an $84.9 million capital spending budget and a five-year $173.7 million capital spending plan which supports a robust program that includes the cost of construction and completion of a new paratransit facility, as well as the cost of engineering (final design and construction) of IH-10 Park & Pool, the Northeast Mobility Hub, and the Randolph Transit Center. The capital budget also includes funds for a development initiative for the Scobey Complex and other conceptual design projects. In addition, the FY 2021 budget will also fund the Advanced Rapid Transit (ART) Study. VIA’s new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, 2020.

In addition, $1.6 million of the approved FY21 budget will fund cleaning costs and PPE for VIA employees, including hand sanitizer, face masks, and permanent protective barriers for bus operator cabins. VIA is making improvements to extensive safety precautions in place to protect the health of employees and customers, including the daily cleaning and disinfecting of buses, vans and facilities, and protocols in place to limit infections and promote social distancing to further shield passengers and drivers from the spread of germs.