Fares remain unchanged; ridership continues to recover

VIA Metropolitan Transit’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget keeps fares steady as the agency continues to recover ridership and make progress on its Keep SA Moving plan to improve public transit throughout the region.

The VIA Board of Trustees on Tuesday unanimously adopted a $390.8 million consolidated FY2024 budget that supports improvements to bus and van service, a new VIA Link on-demand zone, continued recruitment and retention efforts for operators and mechanics, and ongoing capital projects designed to improve passenger amenities and the customer experience.

The $262.5 million operating budget projects a 3.3% growth in sales tax and holds steady VIA’s fares, ensuring the community continues to have affordable access to reliable transportation. The budget prioritizes growing transit usage with more and better trip options, and advancing the Keep San Antonio Moving plan that includes the region’s first Advanced Rapid Transit corridors, the VIA Rapid Green and Silver lines. VIA is tracking a 12.5% increase in bus ridership and a 20.9% increase in VIAtrans paratransit ridership for the fiscal year to date.

Meanwhile, VIA’s budget for FY24 is down from the previous fiscal year, due in part to savings in its Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) plan.

This year’s adopted operating budget is $11.5 million less than last year’s. VIA’s adopted capital budget of $128.3 million is $4.3 million under last year’s.

The FY24 budget provides a 3% cost of living adjustment for administrative employees, along with a 3.5% one-time payment to retirees. VIA’s hourly employees received a 3% adjustment in August.

VIA’s fare structure remains unchanged, having last been adjusted in 2016. Full fare is $1.30, and there is no charge for transfers. VIA’s fares are among the lowest in the U.S.

The approved FY24 budget also includes the following:

♦ Reliability and frequency improvements to fixed-route service
♦ Adjustments to VIAtrans paratransit service that address service demand
♦ Expanded service for three existing VIA Link zones
♦ The addition of a fourth VIA Link zone
♦ New front-line positions
♦ Continued focus, on hiring and retention

The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.