VIA’s ART project advances to Keep SA Moving

Plans for the San Antonio area’s first Advanced Rapid Transit corridor have reached another major milestone in the form of federal support for a proposed North-to-South line along San Pedro Avenue.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released an initial favorable rating for the proposed Advanced Rapid Transit (ART) North/South project, being developed by VIA Metropolitan Transit. This milestone reflects the first time in history that a project from the San Antonio area has been rated as part of the Capital Investments Grant (CIG) program.

It’s the next in a series of steps forward for the ART project, part of VIA’s voter-approved Keep San Antonio Moving (KSAM) plan. Voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition A in November 2020, securing dedicated funding for transit projects and improvements, including a modern ART network.

VIA’s ART project is designed to move more people, faster and farther. It’s a high-quality, modern public transportation system that delivers frequent service within dedicated lanes and outside regular traffic. The system features signal priority, off-board fare collection, raised platforms, and stations spaced farther apart. The North/South corridor would connect major employment and residential centers—destinations for thousands of local workers and visitors—from the San Antonio Airport through Downtown and onto Southtown.

In August 2021, VIA was granted permission to enter the ART North/South concept project into the FTA CIG program, one of the largest federal funding programs in existence.

Part of the CIG process requires FTA ratings over the course of development for the proposed project to continue moving toward ultimately bringing federal infrastructure funding to the region.

VIA’s proposed North/South corridor earned an initial Medium-High project rating—the second highest ranking possible. A project must receive a rating of at least Medium to advance.

“As we start our public engagement on the ART North/South project and hear from the public on how we can best serve the community with these new improvements, the FTA’s initial rating puts this project on a solid path toward receiving federal funding for one of the community’s top transit priorities,” VIA’s President and CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt said. “This is a significant next step for VIA and San Antonio, and the first time we are able to be competitive for access to tremendous federal support in delivering a modern mass-transit system to move San Antonio.”

VIA will host a series of public meetings throughout 2022 to discuss the proposed improvements with the community, to help shape the ultimate design and concept that moves forward for potential federal funding.

As part of the FTA CIG program, the rating will be updated before a final funding agreement can be reached between FTA and VIA. Federal funding would complement local funding from a partial 1-cent sales tax allocated to VIA, beginning in 2026. The current project schedule shows the ART N/S being able to open for service in mid-2027.