The Via Metropolitan Transit Board of Directors tonight is expected to rubber stamp that proposed $280 million downtown streetcar plan, despite concerns being raised about the cost overruns associated with the proposal, and doubts about whether the project is even needed, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Approval of what is called the "Locally Preferred Alternative" streetcar plan is buried deep into the agenda for tonight's board meeting as item number ten, following lengthy discussion on 'diversity initiatives update' and other issues designed to limit public comment on the streetcar.
The streetcar route would cost taxpayers $280 million, $70 million more than the bus agency has on hand, even before the inevitable cost overruns are taken into consideration.
"We will built in phases so we will have monies leveraged for when the federal government comes out with additional grants for transportation," says Lou Miller, a member of the Via Board.
Ironically, several members of the Via Board are expected to abstain on approval of the streetcar plan because they have personal financial interests along the chosen streetcar route.
The Via Board members will be going against the wishes of several key elected officials, including State Rep. Lyle Larson, who are suggesting that the project is ill considered and should be scrapped. Some have accused the project of being 'racist,' because it may end up stripping poor neighborhoods of lifeline bus service to make sure wealthy tourists and downtown business owners can ride in style.
The City of San Antonio is well aware that the project is wildly unpopular. In the printed literature supporting the 2012 city bond issue, bond supporters felt obligated to include a prominent disclaimer in the literature stressing that 'none of the bond money will go to the Via streetcar proposal.'
Miller and other Via board members are also considering going back to downtown business owners and getting them to pay some of the $70 million shortfall.
The streetcar is expected to be in place by 2018.