Updated January 2018
San Antonio continues to make progress in number of miles of complete streets, but not at the rate to meet the 2020 goal. A Complete Street is defined as being an existing street, within a quarter mile of a transit stop, with a sidewalk, and with a bicycle facility. Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) has continued to increase since 2010, while the average commute time has stayed around 22-23 minutes with less than a 1 ½ minute variation year-to-year which could be attributed to the associated margin of error. “Mean Travel Time” is defined by workers. who are 16-years-old or older who did not work at home and traveled alone by car, truck, or van. This measure includes members of the Armed Forces and civilians who were at work in the last week. In 2017, as part of the SA Tomorrow process, SA2020 added Increase Alternative Transit Use and Eliminate Traffic Fatalities and Serious Injuries. The latter was prompted by Vision Zero, a nationwide initiative that calls for zero traffic fatalities, adopted in San Antonio in 2015. Data from 2010 show San Antonio making progress toward our alternative transit use, but not at the rate needed to reach our SA2020 goal. In traffic fatalities, however, San Antonio is getting worse.
Why is this important?
An efficient and effective transportation system is critical to many areas of city life, including the flow of commerce, the ability of residents to get to and from work, and air quality. But one area that is often overlooked is the effect of transportation on health and fitness. Just like a great transportation system can have the effect of “place making”, or creating a sense of community by virtue of its ability to bring people together, so too can a great transportation system have a subtle but powerful impact on creating positive health outcomes. This impact has a reciprocal effect, as healthy and fit residents with a variety of inviting transportation options are more likely to choose to walk or ride a bicycle as opposed to driving a car or riding a bus. This makes for a cleaner environment and less strain on the transportation system. Transportation requires long-term planning and solutions that recognize the need for new infrastructure to knit together a city that is continuing to sprawl. For every $1 invested in public transportation, approximately $4 is generated in economic returns (American Public Transportation Association). The SA2020 Green Dividend (2014) shows that if every person in San Antonio MSA drove one mile less per day, we could see a decrease in annual driving expenses of $453 million. Additionally, households near public transit drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles than households with no access to public transit, while per passenger mile, public transportation produces 95% less carbon monoxide and 45% less carbon dioxide than private vehicles (American Public Transportation Association).
With 40 years of service in San Antonio and the region, VIA Metropolitan Transit has a long history connecting the community. At the same time, VIA is committed to the future of our city and the people in it, and continues to invest in innovations, technology, and sustainable transit options. In 2017, VIA launched its new VIA goMobile app, intended to make planning and paying for trips easier. VIA also launched a new version of its website and trip planner, which makes it easier to find the most convenient routes and is integrated with alternative transit options like San Antonio B-Cycle and Lyft. VIA also understands the reality of our region’s growth. With a projected 1.1 million additional people expected to call San Antonio home by 2040, VIA embarked on its Vision 2040 Long Range Plan to ensure that the region’s public transportation system can support this growth. The Vision 2040 plan envisions a multimodal network of options, improved frequency, smart transit solutions, and an expanded service area. VIA is truly committed to serving the San Antonio community— and finding ways to innovate for a better tomorrow.