A customer waits for the bus at the Madla Transit Center. Photo by Joan Vinson.

About two and a half years after VIA Metropolitan Transit launched its first Prímo bus line, the mass transit company is seeking community input before launching two new Prímo lines along Military Drive and Zarzamora Street in the spring and fall of 2018 respectively.

The proposed route, a $64 million South/West Corridor project will consist of two separate lines. One will run east to west along Military Drive from Brooks Transit Center, near Brooks City Base, to the Kelly-Lackland (Kel-Lac) Transit Center. The other one will run north to south along Zarzamora Street from Crossroads Park and Ride at Wonderland of the Americas Mall (formerly known as Crossroads Mall) to Madla Transit Center, just south of South Park Mall. Construction on the new lines will begin in 2017 and are slated to begin service in 2018.

The existing VIA Prímo 100 route runs along Fredericksburg Road from downtown San Antonio to the South Texas Medical Center and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The Prímo bus lines are faster, more efficient transportation routes, VIA officials said. The idea is to get as many people as possible to where they want to go in the least amount of time, saving time and energy.

The South/West corridor. Image courtesy of VIA Metropolitan Transit.
The South/West corridor. Image courtesy of VIA Metropolitan Transit.

The VIA Prímo 100 route is approximately 20 miles in length and serves 16 stations along its corridor. A bus arrives at every one of those stations every 10 to 15 minutes, and takes passengers to their destination at a travel time 15 to 20% faster than the regular VIA routes.

The original 16 Prímo 100 route buses are 60-feet long, as opposed to the standard 40-foot long VIA buses. The slinky-like centers of the Prímo buses make for tighter turns. Powered by compressed natural gas, the buses save on fuel costs while reducing toxic emissions. Over the last year VIA has begun employing premium 40-foot diesel hybrid buses, similar to VIA’s express buses, on the corridor to provide flexibility for the fleet at peak-times.

The South/West Corridor line will have 18 buses, including a mix of the premium 40-feet long buses and the distinct 60-feet long buses.

The Military Drive Primo Route. Image courtesy of VIA Metropolitan Transit.
The Military Drive Primo Route. Image courtesy of VIA Metropolitan Transit.

The stations along the Fredericksburg Road Prímo route are larger and more hi-tech than the standard bus stops. Prímo stations have passenger waiting platforms and digital screens that inform passengers in real time of when the next bus is scheduled to arrive.

The Zarzamora Street Primo route. Image courtesy of VIA Metropolitan Transit.
The Zarzamora Street Primo route. Image courtesy of VIA Metropolitan Transit.

The South/West Corridor will include Prímo stations and “next generation” stations that are lit up during the night. VIA Strategic Planner Christina Castano said VIA plans to implement more night-lit stations.

“We want to make sure that … customers feel safe when they’re along the South/West Corridor,” Christina Castano said.

Open-house meetings are scheduled throughout the next two weeks and community members are encouraged to provide input for the Prímo route. The placement of transit stations along the South/West Corridor are not set in stone. Since the Mission’s World Heritage designation, Castano said VIA has set aside money in the Prímo budget to include a station that provides easy access to the South San Antonio Missions.

“We anticipate that (a Mission stop) is something that is going to bubble up to the top,” she said.

As of now, Castano said tourists using VIA buses to get to the Missions use the Roosevelt route from downtown.

Each of the 16 existing Prímo buses are equipped with technology that change traffic lights to keep the buses on schedule.

“It is essentially a mechanism where the bus talks to a transit light. If a bus is running late it will hold the green light so that the bus can get through the intersection,” Castano said.

She said the technology has ensured about 11% increase in on-time performance.

VIA Prímo 100 is the only route that offers wireless internet (WiFi) to customers, but that is changing Sept. 1 when WiFi will be implemented throughout the VIA fleet.

Here are the next open house meetings:

(Tonight) Thursday, Aug. 27

  • 6 – 8 a.m. at the Kel-Lac Transit Center, 7183 U.S. Highway 90 West

Thursday, Aug. 27

  • 4 – 6 p.m. at the Crossroads Park and Ride, 151 Crossroads Blvd.

Tuesday, Sept. 1

  • 5 – 7 p.m. at the Mission Library, 3134 Roosevelt Ave.

Wednesday, Sept. 2

  • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Last Chance Ministries, 404 Brady Blvd.

Wednesday, Sept. 2

  • 5 – 7 p.m. at the Harlandale High School Cafeteria, 114 E. Gerald Ave.

Thursday, Sept. 3

  • 5 – 7 p.m. at the Deco Building Foyer, 1800 Fredericksburg Rd.

*Featured/top image: A customer waits for the bus at the Madla Transit Center. Photo by Joan Vinson. 

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....