City support for VIA Metropolitan Transit’s controversial streetcar collapsed Monday as recently appointed San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor called for the $32 million that the city had pledged for it be redirected to other center city development initiatives.
She also said that the streetcar, and any rail plan, should not proceed without a public vote, and she pushed for the creation of a city charter commission to explore transportation and other issues.
“The current proposal is very unpopular,” Taylor said. “We certainly believe there needs to be community consensus on a comprehensive multimodal transportation plan.”
In a stunning reversal, County Judge Nelson Wolff said he would ask Bexar County’s appointees on the VIA board to withdraw their support for streetcar, a plan several years in the making. Wolff said officials simply were unable “to gain sufficient public support” for the rail project.
That’s quite the auspicious debut for the new San Antonio mayor. I don’t think Julian Castro said anything about the streetcar project one way or the other; from what I could tell, it seems that he was content to let Nelson Wolff be the point man on it on behalf of the county and the city.
It’s also quite an auspicious (and suspicious) change of heart on Nelson Wolff’s part as well. Six months ago Wolff went on record as saying the streetcar wasn’t big enough for a vote, thereby implying its popularity didn’t matter one way or the other, and today he’s saying streetcar boosters couldn’t gin up enough support from the public to justify it. I’m going to guess he got really scared when he saw the number of signatures on the petition and figured he’d better lay off if he wanted to keep his job. ‘Cause party affiliation be damned, if there’s one thing a politician fears more the anything, it’s getting fired.