Traffic lines up on Interstate 35 during rush hour.
Cars line Interstate 35 during rush hour. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on Friday sent a letter to leaders of ConnectSA urging them to quickly come up with solutions for transportation and transit issues in San Antonio.

Nirenberg and Wolff gave ConnectSA, a nonprofit formed earlier this year to address mobility challenges in the region, until Dec. 21 to deliver recommendations for a plan and a way to fund it.

In their letter, Nirenberg and Wolff encouraged ConnectSA to seek community input on their recommendations in early 2019, adding that they hoped the organization would be able to present a ballot initiative for a transportation plan next November.

“The transportation needs of Bexar County and City of San Antonio will dramatically change in the coming years as we welcome one million new residents and potentially 500,000 new vehicles on our roads,” they wrote. “We must address traffic congestion now.”

Nearly 80 percent of San Antonians drive to work alone, according to a 2016 study, and that number is projected to grow.

Nirenberg and Wolff in May said ConnectSA’s proposed system will not include light rail. In their letter, they asked ConnectSA leaders to consider trackless transit with designated lanes, creating a one-stop payment system for all transportation services, and using data analytics to design routes. They also requested the organization look at funding options, including reallocating Advanced Transportation District funds or charging usage fees for rideshare and dockless vehicles.

“To improve service delivery and reduce system costs, our current fixed-route bus system must evolve into a truly multi-modal system that integrates demand-driven bus, van and car routes and partnerships with rideshare companies, traditional taxis and newer innovations such as scooters and driverless cars,” they wrote.

ConnectSA’s tri-chairs – former Mayor Henry Cisneros, outgoing VIA board Chair Hope Andrade, and former City Attorney Jane Macon – have confirmed three committee chairs so far and will appoint several more who will serve on the nonprofit’s board.

Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7) and Pape-Dawson Engineers CEO Sam Dawson will chair the community stakeholder committee. The finance committee will be headed by San Antonio Water System Chairman Berto Guerra and former State Sen. John Montford, while Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4), Alamo Colleges trustee Yvonne Katz, and former CPS Energy trustee Derrick Howard will chair the advisory committee.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.