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San Antonio lays groundwork for downtown-to-airport transit line


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At long last, San Antonio is set to break ground on the metro's first mass transit line. This project will be a BRT line that will connect the airport to downtown, pass through Southtown and Mission Concepción, then terminate at Brooks City Base. There a lot to not like about this project (sharing lanes with vehicular traffic, no barrier between BRT lane and traffic lane, too many turns and stops, etc.) but it still represents a huge step forward for San Antonio, a city that has been incredibly resistant to funding public transportation. Hopefully this project succeeds and spurs further expansion and investment.



The region’s first ART corridor, the VIA Rapid Green Line, connects points from the North and South sides. A second proposed ART corridor, the VIA Rapid Silver Line, connects the East and West sides.



Plans for the Green Line show 26 stops, spaced roughly a third of a mile apart. The projected ride time from from the airport to Brooks City Base is approximately 45 minutes. Buses would arrive every 10 minutes on weekdays, and every 15 minutes on weekends, according to VIA.



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It would be challenging to fund an efficient rush hour transit system in a city where the major employers are military bases, hospitals and a few universities, all spread out across random neighborhoods five to ten miles apart.  So I think a non-commute system anchored by the airport and downtown is probably the only mass bundling option where ten minute headways would be sustainable.

While they can try that anywhere, the low off-peak ridership elsewhere would soon lead to cutbacks as money was wasted at ten minute intervals, so it's better not to implement it and then have to retract it.

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I think a better strategy for this corridor, though, would be to pick four or five really busy stops to build enclosed waiting and boarding stations.  Run 1/4 of the vehicles Express stopping only at these stops.  Run 3/4ths of the vehicles Local, stopping at every stop.  The average rider's ride time would decrease even though they have one or two quick indoor Local-to-Express transfers if they're going across town.

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