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VIA launches new TAMUSA bus route
March 7, 2019

VIA launches new TAMUSA bus route

VIA launches new TAMUSA bus route

VIA Primo 672 waits by a bus stop at Palo Alto College to take students to Texas A&M University-San Antonio on March 2, 2019. Photo by Armando Villarreal III.

Marlene Trevino, mathematics sophomore, said she’s been riding VIA bus transit system to Texas A&M University-San Antonio since August 2018. As a regular rider, she said she’s seen positive changes with the transit service on South Zarzamora Street leading to campus.

Trevino said the discontinued 520 bus route she took to campus was usually behind schedule due to traffic on South Zarzamora Street.  

On Jan. 7, Primo 103 and 672 TAMUSA/Madla Transit Center was launched, replacing the 520 bus route.

“Now that they’re separate,” Trevino said of Primo 103 and 672 bus, “it’s always on time and it used to always be late. So, that’s good.”

Students are praising A&M-San Antonio for helping to implement an improved transit network that offers a new route with weekend availability for students, faculty and staff.

Improvements are part of a larger initiative to advance transit for commuter and resident students.

The City of San Antonio’s Planning Department recently implemented the SA Tomorrow’s plan for Texas A&M Area Regional Center. SA Tomorrow is a long range comprehensive plan to develop and guide future growth for land use, infrastructure and services, according to the SA Tomorrow’s website.

The transit topic in this rural side of the city is a topic that has received more attention lately. In a radio broadcast on Feb. 16, Dave Martin Davies, host of “The Source” podcast at Texas Public Radio, discussed the SA Tomorrow plan and what people want to see happen at A&M-San Antonio and the south side of San Antonio.

“Every time VIA has planning opportunity and they put out maps, forecast… and this is what they want to do,” Davies said. “Texas A&M-SA is a major part of what they [VIA] want to see happen and they want to be able to provide quick, easy routes to future students to make sure they are a part of the future growth of San Antonio and not be behind the wave.”

Lorraine Pulido, Communications Manager at VIA Metropolitan Transit, said VIA has provided service to A&M-San Antonio, since it launched in 2009.

“The change to have enhanced service on route 672 came about with the implementation plan of Prímo 103 Zarzamora,” Pulido said.

The new 672 bus route now travels daily Monday through Saturday from 5:18 a.m. to 10:18 p.m. and on Sundays 6:18 a.m. to 9:18 p.m. .

The 672 bus northbound route travels from A&M-San Antonio to Palo Alto College, Southwest General Hospital and Madla Transit Center. The Southbound route travels through the same locations counterclockwise with the exception of Southwest General Hospital.

Pulido said the 672 bus route has a total of 51 stops and it was named after A&M-San Antonio because “it is the end of the line or final destination prior to turning back.”

Christian Harmon, Parking and Transportation Manager at A&M-San Antonio, said the university did not participate in choosing the 672 bus route or name.

The university did voice its concerns over the availability of weekend VIA transit service and its impact on resident students. Since Esperanza Hall, A&M-San Antonio’s on-campus student housing, reached full occupancy of over 370 students, the university provided VIA information that would would assist in current and future plans for bus routes.

Harmon said a third of the students who live on campus drive a vehicle, but the rest are dependent on other transportation modes. Some students who are members of campus organizations are not able to attend events on weekends due to transportation limitations.

“From a common sense standpoint, we saw there was a desire [and] need,” Harmon said.

He said his department received a lot of verbal and e-mail complaints from students about VIA’s weekend availability. Harmon said the university did not have many weekend classes and resident halls did not exist until the fall semester of 2017.

“Now we have both,” Harmon said. “That was a huge part in what spawned them to create a new bus line that operates on weekends.”

Pulido said the campus has access to VIA’s student discounts and semester passes.

With a valid campus ID, proof of enrollment and proof of paid tuition, VIA offers a semester pass. The pass allows students unlimited rides and free 4G LTE WiFi on board for $38 per semester.

Pulido said VIA has not seen an increase of A&M-San Antonio’s headcount at this point, but they anticipate that more riders will take advantage of the route once awareness increases.

English junior Evelin Ortega said she’s been riding the bus for four years. She began riding the bus while attending Palo Alto College and she’s glad the new bus line is different, now that she’s attending A&M-San Antonio.

“Now it’s a bit faster, better for the environment and also it’s relaxing in a way,” Ortega said.

The new Primo 103 route on South Zarzamora Street also connects with Primo 100 on Fredericksburg Road, increasing bus frequency and decreasing wait times.

Primo service runs everyday with 40-foot and 60-foot compressed natural gas-fueled vehicles. The service reduces vehicle emissions, reduces fuel costs and helps provide a cleaner environment.

Primo bus passengers will have access to forward-and-rear facing wheelchair positioning, bikes allowed inside the 60-foot bus and Wi-Fi on board and at bus stops.

Primo stops are spaced apart so riders spend less time on the bus on South Zarzamora Street. Enhanced bus stops now provide WiFi access and new digital signs display real-time bus information.  In addition,“Each stop features unique public art created by local artist,” according to “Primo Service: Enhanced Stops,” on the VIA Metropolitan Transit website.

Primo 102 on Military Drive traveling from Kel-Lac Transit Center to Brooks Transit Center is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2019.

For more information, visit: https://www.viainfo.net/2018/12/05/jan_service_changes_2019/

Editor’s Note: Lorraine Pulido is an adjunct faculty member in Communication in the College of Arts & Sciences at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

 

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