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  #161  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 4:39 AM
adtobias adtobias is offline
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We use to have DC-10 land at SAT and that was a large plane
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  #162  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 12:55 PM
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New VIA CEO plans to drive transit system into the future

San Antonio Business Journal - by Tamarind Phinisee

Quote:
The arrival of Keith Parker, the new president and CEO of VIA Metropolitan Transit, is expected to further fuel the push for the development of a multi-modal transportation system in San Antonio.

Parker, who has only been on the job for a few weeks, hails from Charlotte, N.C., where he served as CEO and director of public transit for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). At CATS, Parker was responsible for bus and para-transit operations and also helped to develop Charlotte’s light-rail transit system.

Parker says he will be working with the city of San Antonio, the VIA board, local businesses and community associations to find a path to branching into a multi-modal transportation system.

All modes of transportation, he says, including bus rapid transit and light and commuter rail, are essential to a city’s economic growth.

Parker says the multi-modal transit system developed in Charlotte helped the city successfully compete for new businesses.

“Any community that has not gotten a firm hold on how to deal with congestion, air quality and getting to and from jobs, school and recreational areas is going to get left behind,” Parker says.

Therefore, he says, a multi-modal system is important to San Antonio, which continues to see population growth because of its lower taxes and attractive quality of life.

VIA is working on a long-range comprehensive plan to be released in the summer of 2010 that will look at other modes of transportation.

David Marquez, director of economic development for Bexar County, says VIA has served the community well as a mass-transit bus system.

However, Marquez says the city has fallen behind other cities of similar size that have recognized the need for a transit system that can serve a large population through various modes of transportation.

“We are well beyond the growth as a community not to have other modes of transportation available...,” Marquez says. “I think Parker understands that very well.”

Of course, he points out that prior to Parker’s arrival as the top gun at VIA, the city had already recognized the need for a rail-based transit system.

“We think a rail-based system is necessary. Perhaps at one time it was seen as a luxury. ... But not anymore,” Marquez says.

Marquez adds that a multi-modal transit system can help with air quality, lowering the cost of living for residents, aid in economic development at the city’s core and serve as an additional business recruiting tool.

“It’s a selling point that we don’t (presently) have to offer,” he says.

Scott Ericksen, spokesman for the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), agrees that VIA offers an excellent bus service.

Still, Ericksen says, the MPO is happy that VIA is working on a transportation plan that will investigate more than just bus service. “This plan fits into the development of the MPO’s metropolitan transportation plan called Mobility 2035, which will be adopted this December,” Ericksen says. “We will integrate VIA’s plan into our plan as far as development.”

Financial resources
One of the resources necessary for developing a multi-modal transit system, of course, is money.

During the recently completed state legislative session, the San Antonio Mobility Coalition (SAMCo) supported legislation that would have provided Bexar County with local options to establish a tax, raise fees or develop some kind of mechanism to create a pool of dedicated money to fund the development of an integrative transportation network.

Richard Perez, who sits on SAMCo’s executive committee, says the bill was defeated.

But he says he is confident that Parker will find a way to lead the city’s charge to develop a light rail system.

“He’s done it over there (in Charlotte),” says Perez, who is president and CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and who also served on the panel that selected Parker. “I think he can helps us ... get the local tools and funding mechanisms that we need to be able to implement a multi-modal network.”

As for the existing bus service, Parker says he plans to pursue some of the same strategies implemented in Charlotte to increase ridership in San Antonio.

In Charlotte, Parker says the local transportation agency asked non-riders what incentives would encourage them to ride the bus. Many of the responses, he says, called for more frequent service, better routes, more comfortable buses — with features like individual air flow, light-control amenities, and overhead storage compartments for briefcases and laptop computers.

CATS also launched an aggressive campaign with the slogan, “Just Try Us,” and sent free passes to select zip codes for a week of free rides. Adding the features requested and using the free passes, he says, increased ridership dramatically.

“We’ll go through the same process of engaging the community (in San Antonio) to find out what it will take for more people to ride the bus,” he says. “We want to attract new customers and also take care of our current riders.”
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  #163  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 4:20 PM
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YAY!

Mecklenburg County faced similar funding issues in butting heads with the state, so I can imagine how Parker will kick that one out.

My only fear is that the East Side will get the shaft once again. I'm willing to bet to get to the AT&T Center, they'll propose all kinds of systems that use the soon to be removed rail corridor that goes along the Eastside of Downtown and through the industrial area. I only say this because in living in that side of town, I found out that our representation in city government wants East Houston to eventually be upgraded to a light-highway and has tried hard to block bus routes from using it for any great length.
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  #164  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 7:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexjon View Post
I found out that our representation in city government wants East Houston to eventually be upgraded to a light-highway and has tried hard to block bus routes from using it for any great length.
But that representation has long been removed.
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  #165  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 9:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirkingwilliam View Post
But that representation has long been removed.
Ivy only got elected this year, right?

Oh god, Sheila "um, thanks for your e-mail, but rail never works and we have cars, thanks" McNeil. I think that spoiled the respect I had for that position pretty badly.
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  #166  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 9:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexjon View Post
Ivy only got elected this year, right?

Oh god, Sheila "um, thanks for your e-mail, but rail never works and we have cars, thanks" McNeil. I think that spoiled the respect I had for that position pretty badly.
Ivy's a rail proponent.
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  #167  
Old Posted Aug 2, 2009, 6:51 AM
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Thought this was a great thing to read about. I hope we get the ball rolling on something like this without a long drawn out process, luckily the people in charge are looking in the right direction.

S.A. could roll into future on streetcars

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/tra...treetcars.html
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  #168  
Old Posted Aug 2, 2009, 3:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by necropolis View Post
Thought this was a great thing to read about. I hope we get the ball rolling on something like this without a long drawn out process, luckily the people in charge are looking in the right direction.

S.A. could roll into future on streetcars

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/tra...treetcars.html

As I was reading that this morning, I was already envisioning all of the new developments popping up around center city.
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  #169  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2009, 10:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirkingwilliam View Post
Ivy's a rail proponent.
I know, I know, but I'm still wary of what my neighborhood would do if asked to support a rail line, even a small one like a streetcar. I'm really skeptical of any DT to AT&T line.

Then again, the neighborhood has surprised me in the past.
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  #170  
Old Posted Aug 19, 2009, 11:55 PM
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SmartWaySA
VIA's new site to promote their Long Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan.

Here is the Summer 2009 Newsletter.
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Last edited by miaht82; Aug 20, 2009 at 12:17 AM.
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  #171  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 3:21 PM
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got the VIA SmartWay postcard in the mail yesterday.

similar to all of the BRT announcements we got months back, although this one mentions BRT only as a footnote along with LRT, Streetcar and others.

humorously, there was a picture of a monorail included on the postcard. (always makes me think of Simpsons monorail episode)
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  #172  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 3:56 PM
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I think they are trying hard to push and ensure that people know the difference between Commuter, LRT, Streetcar and Heavy rail. I think it is a good idea and might stand to gain some support among the ones who are just confused about the whole thing.
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  #173  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 5:21 PM
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the campaign looks slick.

i think the key will be including some federal stimulus money (or any federal money) so the proponents can say that the federal government is helping foot the bill, which will give the impression that we are getting off easy and cheaply.

if anyone knows san antonio, san antonio likes a value.
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  #174  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2009, 2:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sakyle04 View Post
if anyone knows san antonio, san antonio likes a value.
Can anyone else see VIA giving out free Taco Cabana to the first 1,000 riders on the day LRT opens? I sure can.
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  #175  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2009, 3:27 AM
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Lightbulb

Quote:
The arrival of Keith Parker, the new president and CEO of VIA Metropolitan Transit, is expected to further fuel the push for the development of a multi-modal transportation system in San Antonio.
Parker, who has only been on the job for a few weeks, hails from Charlotte, N.C., where he served as CEO and director of public transit for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). At CATS, Parker was responsible for bus and para-transit operations and also helped to develop Charlotte’s light-rail transit system.
From http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/cha...8/daily11.html
Before he became CEO at CATS, Parker was chief operating officer and deputy director of CATS from 2000 to 2004. After that, Parker became assistant city manager and was a finalist for the city manager’s job in 2007 before becoming CATS’ top executive later that year. He also worked at the Clark County (Wash.) Transit Authority and the Greater Richmond Transit Co. in Virginia.

In San Antonio, VIA Metropolitan Transit has a $165 million budget. The agency is prepping plans for a proposed light-rail line and expanded bus system in 2012, Ingle says. Parker will replace John Milam, who worked at VIA for 33 years and was president and CEO for 16 before retiring in January. Roland Lozano has run VIA as interim president and CEO since then.

My opinion:
I just wanted to point out that Parker didn't work at CATS between 2004 to 2007, a three year gap when most of the construction of the CATS light rail line was underway. CATS light rail opening day was 24 November 2007. CATS 2009 operating budget was $112.6 Million.

Source: http://www.charmeck.org/NR/rdonlyres...SFY2009SOP.pdf
CATS is funded primarily with income from Federal and State sources, fare revenue, and the voter approved one half cent Sales & Use tax. The tax is utilized to fund annual debt service expense and operating and capital costs. CATS operates as an enterprise fund of the City and as such, all accounting practice is controlled by the City’s Finance Department in compliance with established financial and governmental reporting principles and standards.
In order to build on the programs of the past years; promote the mission, vision and strategic goals of Public Transit; implement directives of the MTC and City Council; and handle its challenges and priorities, CATS Operating Budget for FY2009 is $112.6 million; the Operating Balance is projected at $21.0 million and the Capital Budget is $143.9 million.

Will San Antonio citizens ever give VIA a full cent sales tax to build and maintain rail projects?

Presently, the VIA bus system is supported by the half cent sales tax. To add any significant rail lines of any type, VIA will need more tax revenues. If VIA doesn't add more tax revenues, VIA will have to take some financial resources away from bus services to build and fund rail services.

I know a few will point out that CATS only charges a half cent sales tax, and was able to build a 9.6 mile starter light rail line. But they're not capable of building more miles of light rail without more local taxes. Might as well seek a full penny sales taxes so you can build all your train lines faster.

Last edited by electricron; Aug 21, 2009 at 3:43 AM.
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  #176  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2009, 7:47 AM
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If you don't think Kieth Parker didn't play a hand in CATS light rail plans between 2000-2004 you're grossly mistaken.
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  #177  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2009, 1:49 PM
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Originally Posted by sirkingwilliam View Post
If you don't think Kieth Parker didn't play a hand in CATS light rail plans between 2000-2004 you're grossly mistaken.
As chief operating officer and deputy director of CATS from 2000 to 2004, I know he did. Never-the-less, he wasn't around between 2004 and 2007, during the light rail construction.

Some Lynx history from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LYNX_Ra...ansit_Services

By March 1990, CATS only allotted $14 million for light rail development for the duration of the 1990s. Again, overall construction costs were cited in postponing the development of the system. Additionally, the Charlotte proposal at the time did not anticipate sufficient ridership of the system to acquire Federal Transit Administration grant money to develop the system. The $14 million would be used for both the purchasing of abandoned right-of-way as it became available for future light rail development as well as monies for studying a proposed line connecting the Wilgrove area in east Mecklenburg County with Tyvola Road south of Uptown Charlotte.
In 1998, Mecklenburg County voters approved a one-half cent sales tax to be utilized in the implementation of the 2025 Integrated Transit/Land-Use Plan, which include development of a light rail network. Once the tax was approved, the planning for the South Corridor to Pineville commenced.
Although light rail had been envisioned connecting Charlotte to Rock Hill in previous years, official planning for the corridor, later to become the Blue Line, would not commence until 1999. The line was to have initially been $225 million, 13.5-mile (21.73 km) route serving as a connection between Uptown Charlotte and Pineville along the Norfolk Southern rail line paralleling South Boulevard. In February 2000, the Metropolitan Transit Commission unanimously approved the corridor for the region's first light rail line, and by April, $8.2 million was allocated for the initial purchase of materials for its construction. By September, Parsons Transportation Group was hired by CATS to complete engineering and environmental studies for the corridor, and at this time costs estimates for the completed line increased to $331 million.
In July 2002, the overall costs for completing the line escalated to $371 million as a result of increasing land and construction costs. Additionally, the southern terminus for the line was moved approximately 1.5 miles (2.41 km) to the north along South Boulevard as a result of low projected ridership figures for the proposed downtown Pineville station, and primarily, as a result of the Mayor of Pineville, George Fowler, and the Pineville Town Council voting to not receive the line. By March 2004, costs of the line again were increased to $398.7 million and were again revised to $427 million by January 2005. The increased estimates were blamed on both rising land and construction costs. After numerous delays caused by increasing cost estimates, the official groundbreaking for the line occurred on February 26, 2005.

From $225 Million initially in 1999 to $427 Million by January 2005; a period of time Parker was involved with Lynx; the Lynx 10 mile light rail line costs escalated 190% in just 6 years. Not that great a job in estimating costs.

Last edited by electricron; Aug 21, 2009 at 2:16 PM.
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  #178  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2009, 11:03 PM
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electricron, the article explains why the costs rose. It's not easy to predict which way land or equipment prices will go, and you can't create a budget on the grounds of "better safe than sorry", you just can't. Costs rise as a matter of fact.

Saying "they should have estimated better" ignores reality.
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  #179  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 4:02 AM
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maby there planning on integrating it into the ASA commuter rail.
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  #180  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2009, 1:51 PM
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From MySA: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/loc...ange_plan.html

Big news potentially on the horizon...

Including my personal favorite nugget:
Quote:
Muñoz has said he’d like to see VIA break ground on a streetcar system in as little as two or three years. The agency also is working on a bus rapid transit project along Fredericksburg Road, connecting downtown and the Medical Center. But Muñoz and Parker said Wednesday during an Express-News Editorial Board meeting that the bus project would be re-assessed in the next several weeks, signaling that the route could become a rail corridor.
“A possibility could come back that the preferred technology on Fredericksburg Road could be light rail,” Parker said.
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