SAN ANTONIO - Pretty soon you'll be seeing longer, sleeker VIA buses that make fewer stops. They are San Antonio's first ever "bus rapid transit" project, which VIA is calling "Primo." You're paying a primo price to make it all happen, $70 million, and as News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila reports, the bus stops by themselves have an eye-popping price tag of $311,000.
VIA is building 16 of the pricey new bus stops. You may have seen crews working on them already. The total price for all 16 stops is just under $5 million. VIA calls them stations, but there's no building, no restroom. It is just a covered area for riders to sit and wait. The 16 stops are being built along Fredericksburg Road and Medical Drive, and will serve only rapid transit buses that run from the Medical Center into downtown.
We wanted to know why the bus stops are so expensive, so Jaie Avila sat down with VIA's project manager, Arturo Herrera, who said we absolutely need these stops, even at the high price of $311,000. He tells Jaie that the bus stops will accommodate a lot of people, as well as the new longer buses.
"So these are much larger than what you'd call a standard bus stop and the reason is because we're expecting higher loads here and we wanted to provide boarding and alighting from the three doors on these sixty footer vehicles," said Herrera. He added the stops will have a raised platform, making it easier for disabled and elderly passengers to board.
"These bus platforms will have real-time bus arrival information. They'll have security cameras for safety in the evenings," Herrera explained.
VIA is paying for the bus stops with a mix of local and federal taxpayer money.
Jaie asked, "Who decided to go with this design?"
Herrera answered, "The board approved the design. We went through many number of conceptual designs, back in 2010. We met with stake holders, with neighborhood associations to try to discuss the best design."
Even along Fredericksburg Road, where it's standing room only at the current bus stops, we heard mixed reviews about VIA's plan.
The Primo buses should be running by December. That's when we'll find out if rapid transit is worth the price, or if haste makes waste.
There is a lot of information about this rapid bus line and about the design of the stops that VIA is providing.
Routes: Per VIA, "The VIA Primo route will travel primarily along Fredericksburg Road and Medical Drive connecting the University of Texas at San Antonio 1604 campus to the South Texas Medical Center and downtown San Antonio. VIA is planning to build two new transit facilities; the first of which will be the Westside Multimodal Transit Center located in the Cattleman Square neighborhood. The second facility will be the South Texas Medical Center Transit Center located at Babcock Rd. and Medical Dr." Click here for more on routes.
Stations & Stops: Check out drawings of the stations and stops.
Frequency Asked Questions: VIA answers a ton of questions here.