In 1977, the State of Texas created a portion of the sales tax code that allowed for communities to allocate up to one-cent of the tax into their public transportation systems. While other major cities across Texas including Dallas, Houston, and Austin elected to put the entire cent into their transportation systems, San Antonio elected to only put 1/2 of that cent into ours. That was 43 years ago, and the decision left our public transportation system in the dust as the community grew around it.
In 2021, the 1/8 of the cent that was allocated to the Aquifer Protection back in 1977 will expire. The residents of San Antonio will have the option of moving those funds into transportation. But, as with everything that is political, it won't happen without thousands of people who rely on public transportation to stand up and speak out about the importance of the tax shift to better fund our transit system.
Furthermore, as the city plans for the Recovery and Resiliency of our community following the COVID-19 Pandemic, transportation considerations were left out of the conversations and the planning as elaborate plans for business support, workforce development, food supplies, housing and other topics were considered. The fact remains that without reliable, efficient, accessible, and affordable transportation options, these services will be obsolete to the individuals who need them the most...because they don't have a reliable way to get to distribution locations to access these services.
HERE IS WHAT WE ARE SAYING AT DISABILITYSA:
Public transportation is a critical resource for many in the San Antonio community, particularly for disabled individuals. The San Antonio public transportation system has been critically under-funded for many decades now due to the decision to allocate only half of the available funds from sales tax to public transportation. The budgetary shortfall facing VIA has only become more dire with the effects of COVID-19. VIA estimates a $60 million deficit by 2025, assuming the San Antonio City Council provides $10 million of funding annually for the next five years.
As a result, in 2021 VIA may have to reduce or cut services for thousands of riders, many of whom are disabled. Vice Chair of the Via Board, Bob Comeaux, stated that “If we are not successful in November, imagine a transit system standing still or perhaps going backward in a few years.” Such an outcome would have dire effects for disabled San Antonio residents. Lack of public transportation puts the most vulnerable of San Antonio citizens at an even greater disadvantage.
Via Board Chairwoman, Hope Andrade, characterized public transportation as “an issue as critical as equity for San Antonians". In fact, access to public transportation is an issue of equity. As the city of San Antonio formulates The Resiliency Plan, they should bear in mind that access to food distribution services, worker development programs, and healthcare will be greatly diminished for those most in need of these services should funds not be allocated to public transportation.
In 2021, 1/8 of the available sales tax funding, an estimated $36 million annually, will become available to be re-allocated. San Antonio residents will have the option to allocate these funds to public transportation. However, this will not happen unless those who rely on public transportation speak out about their experiences and register to vote in November.
Read the Successfully Aging & Living in San Antonio (SALSA) Letter of Support for the 1/8 cent tax shift to Transportation and outlining the importance of transportation as part of future planning for our community.
TRANSPORTATION IN THE NEWS:
PUBLICATIONS ON TRANSPORTATION, CUTS, AND FUNDING:
VIA BOARD MEETINGS
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE: