The VIVA bus at the milestone 1 Million Trips celebration on July 2, 2019.
VIA Metropolitan Transit celebrates its VIVA bus line completing 1 million passenger trips. Credit: Stephanie Marquez / San Antonio Report

The colorful VIVA buses and trolleys were celebrated Tuesday at the San Antonio Museum of Art after logging 1 million passenger trips since the June 2016 debut of the three routes connecting some of San Antonio’s most-visited sites.

“The VIVA routes can take people to some of the most interesting, cultural, and educational assets that we have,” said Jeffrey Arndt, VIA Metropolitan Transit’s CEO. “It makes it very easy for people who live here and for people who are visiting to get around and see everything that we have to offer.”

The VIVA Culture (Route 11), VIVA Missions (Route 40) and VIVA Centro (Route 301)  buses run on extended hours and take riders directly to or within walking distance of destinations such as the missions, downtown restaurants and museums.

Many museums, stores, and venues along the corridors partnered with VIA. They have created special pamphlets for VIVA riders and offer  those who carry a VIVA Passport special discounts.

San Antonio Museum of Art executive director Katie Luber said SAMA’s partnership on the VIVA bus routes increases the VIA bus rider’s access to the culture of San Antonio.

“Access for all is such a huge thing for all of us [the partners],” Luber told the Rivard Report. “We all care about minimizing the barriers to coming to anyone of our cultural sites across the city. VIA has worked hard to make that happen. One million trips speak loudly to that goal.”

Guest tour inside the VIVA bus at the milestone 1 Million Trips celebration on July 2, 2019.
Guests at the event tour the inside of a VIVA bus. Credit: Stephanie Marquez / San Antonio Report

Daniel Manelly, CEO of the DoSeum, one of VIVA’s first partners, was at the event. He said he agrees that the VIVA partnership promoted the children’s museum’s exhibitions to a wider, more diverse audience.

“When you think about reaching the invisible learner, you want to think about every part of helping them find their way to an organization like SAMA, the McNay [Art Museum] or the DoSeum,” Manelly told the Rivard Report. “We had to begin thinking systematically, and that was what a great partnership looked like for me.”

At the event, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) spoke spoke about the contributions VIVA routes, which all are in his District 35, have made to the cultural sites.

“We need a world-class transportation system to match a world-class destination,” Doggett said. “There are over 34 million visitors to SA each year, and the VIVA routes provide a vital connection to the most visited sites.”

Arndt said the VIVA ridership milestone shows the larger trend that VIA riders will keep increasing.

“The accomplishment is that while the rest of the nation is looking at ridership decreases, The VIVA routes have been growing,” Arndt said.

Avatar photo

Laura Morales

Laura Morales is a freshman studying journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a contributor to The Daily Texan.