A Streetcar We Desire?

by Christopher Gill

I love San Antonio. It’s a city of incredible diversity with a rich and romantic history and people who are passionate about life and making this city better. However, if you ask pretty much anyone, they’ll attest to the poor quality of our public transportation system. I know there are many issues and reasons, including the size of San Antonio, a low population density in our downtown area and the enormous infrastructure cost of creating a public transportation system that adequately and efficiently links our many different neighborhoods and parts of town.

With the renewed interest in our downtown, VIA and the city of San Antonio have been working for the last several years on creating a streetcar system that makes getting around in an area where parking is a major issue a little easier. The idea sounds incredibly appealing—a beautiful, smooth, modern streetcar quietly moving along the streets of downtown bringing hundreds of well-dressed young professionals into the heart of the city to their jobs and offices. Sadly, reality might be a little different from wonderful desire. After doing significant research into the project, reading the 136-page feasibility study and looking at similar streetcar projects across the nation, I’ve come to what, for some, might be a bit of a startling conclusion.

This streetcar is an incredibly bad idea.

Read more, including comments from VIA and the people of San Antonio, in the September 2013 issue of S.A. Scene.