The Texas Department of Transportation will allocate $35 million from the Unified Transportation Program (UTP) to help Via Metropolitan Transit pay for added bus passenger amenities, including transit centers, bus shelters, park and rides, and the expansion of the agency’s compressed natural gas (CNG) efforts.
These expansion efforts include a CNG fueling facility and the procurement of additional buses that operate on CNG.
“We are grateful to the Texas Transportation Commission for this funding,” said Via President/CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt. “We appreciate that the Department sees that we need all the tools in the transportation toolbox to address mobility in our rapidly growing community and that we are making an unprecedented investment in public transportation. VIA has an integrated transportation plan in place that will touch all sectors of the city, and this funding from TxDOT allows us to move forward with that plan.”
The allocation of $35 million will cover a portion of VIA’s $566 million five-year capital plan.
Via has been in conversations with Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton for over a year regarding funding needs for transit projects in the San Antonio area. Houghton accompanied Via and a San Antonio delegation on a visit to Washington, D.C., last year. In January of this year, Houghton joined U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx for a tour of Via facilities. The commission has been made aware of the challenges Via faces with funding sources that are lower than those available to agencies in Dallas, Houston, and Austin.
The UTP funding allocation demonstrates TxDOT’s commitment to assisting VIA in providing transit investments that serve existing customers and that create a framework for a multimodal transit system.
“On behalf of my Bexar County constituents, I thank the Texas Transportation Commission for recognizing the growth San Antonio continues to experience and our need for significant investments in capital improvement projects such as transit centers, bus shelters, and park-and-ride sites,” said Texas State Sen. Carlos Uresti. “These investments will help to ensure families in Bexar County have an easier time getting to work, school, church, or the ball field.”
The Texas Transportation Commission and TxDOT use the Unified Transportation Program (UTP) as TxDOT’s 10-year plan to guide transportation project development. The UTP authorizes projects for construction, development, and planning activities and includes projects involving highways, aviation, public transportation, and state and coastal waterways. The UTP is part of a comprehensive planning and programming process, and it is a critical tool in guiding transportation project development within the long-term planning context. In addition, it serves as a communication tool for stakeholders and the public in understanding the project development commitments TxDOT is making.