Originally Posted by adtobias
San Antonio needs a real rail service.
San Antonio already gets a daily Texas Eagle and tri-weekely Sunset Limited, which by the way are real trains.
San Antonio already has a local transit agency called VIA which is funded by a one-half cent sales tax levied in San Antonio and seven other incorporated municipalities, plus an additional one-eighth cent sales tax levied in San Antonio by the Advanced Transportation District. Therefore, San Antonio funds VIA five-eight cent sales tax rate. The approved operating budget for FY 2012-13 is $176,890,000. The metropolitan transit authority portion of the budget is $151,214,731 and the Advanced Transportation District portion is $25,675,269.
VIA has 91 bus routes servicing San Antonio averaging 137,290 riders on weekdays. VIA’s fleet consists of 418 buses, comprising 194 North American Bus Industries (NABI) diesel buses, four NABI compressed natural gas busses, 176 New Flyer diesel buses, 30 New Flyer diesel-electric hybrid buses, and 14 Optima streetcars.
VIA Workforce numbers:
Full-time Employees 1,662
Bus and Van Operators 1,192
Vehicle Maintenance Employees 249
Facilities Maintenance Employees 82
Every transit agency in Texas that is operating trains today is funded with a cent sales tax rate. That's the first item on any agenda San Antonio should address if they really want VIA to run trains. A cent sales tax rate should increase VIA's yearly revenues by at least another $75 Million, which could be spent on rail. Having sufficient funds available to design, build, operate, maintain, and pay the staff must always be addressed first.