Last week, our friends at VIA Transit invited us to check out one of their new VIVA routes, which easily connect residents and tourists to some of San Antonio’s most popular destinations. We were glad to take a ride on VIVA, visit some fantastic arts and culture spots, and learn more about VIA’s public transit progress.
VIVA, which debuted last month, has three routes: Missions, Centro, and Culture. Riders can visit 4 San Antonio missions, explore downtown San Antonio, or make stops at cultural institutions along the Broadway Corridor and beyond. Take a single trip for $1.30 (standard VIA bus rate) or ride VIVA all day with a $2.75 unlimited day pass.
We took the Culture route, and along the way we learned more about how both VIA is making serious changes to public transportation in San Antonio.
- Wi-fi: Last year, VIA became the largest public transportation provider in the US to offer free 4G LTE service on every bus. That makes it easy to answer emails on your commute, or plan your day while riding VIVA.
- Park and ride: Even for San Antonians who love to drive, VIA is a great alternative for days and events when parking just isn’t feasible. Take the bus from a designated location to Spurs games, Fiesta celebrations, or ITC’s Folklife Festival to avoid the parking headache.
- Vote with VIA: Public transportation + civic engagement… we’re swooning over here. On Election Day this March, VIA offered free rides to anyone headed to the polls—and they plan to keep it up for every election! Just show your voter registration card when you board.
- Expanding service: Did you know that VIA services 98% of Bexar County? That’s pretty amazing to us, and public transit that reaches more than just central San Antonio is crucial as our region continues to grow.
- Centro Plaza: Our starting point was a destination in itself. VIA’s new Centro Plaza includes a beautiful outdoor space downtown and has air conditioned waiting areas. VIA imagined Centro Plaza with the environment in mind, and it features solar panels and water collection systems.
Besides learning more about public transit in our city, our ride on VIVA easily connected us to some of our most beloved San Antonio locations—and SA2020 Partners! Our first stop was Alamo Plaza, where we spotted the archaeologists digging near the plaza! And, because we can’t resist a chance to play tourist in our own city, we snapped some classic Alamo photos.
From there, we headed to the Blue Star Arts Complex. On First Fridays, when the area is flooded with cars and pedestrians, VIVA has got to be the best way to get to Southtown and visit Blue Star Art—and so many other great galleries. Or, take a ride to the Blue Star district to stroll along the river, explore the King William neighborhood, or visit your favorite Southtown eateries.
Next up was The DoSeum, San Antonio’s new and incredible children’s museum. We didn’t get a chance to head inside and try out their interactive exhibits for ourselves, but we’ll be back. With so much happening on the Broadway corridor these days, we love that VIVA made this a central part of its routes. Speaking of which…
The Witte Museum, in the middle of an exciting makeover, is just down the road. Located on the banks of the San Antonio River, with plenty of great outdoor space and the lovely, brand new Mays Family Center, a trip to the Witte is worth it even before you visit the exhibits. Inside, you’ll find collections dedicated to natural history, science, and South Texas heritage. Right now, MAYA is on display, and we were so glad to have a chance to check it out. Bonus: visitors get $1 off admission when they arrive on VIVA!
We continued down Broadway to the beautiful McNay Art Museum, where we got to take a look at their current Coney Island exhibit. It’s fantastic, and it’s on display until September 11th. Another bonus: VIVA riders also get $1 off admission at the McNay! We also snapped some photos in front of the traveling VIVA mural—follow VIA Transit on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to see where it is now!
Then, we headed to the Pearl for our final stop. With all the new things happening in and around the Pearl, this stop provides access to so many great San Antonio spots. Plus, VIVA will make it easier to get to jam-packed events like Tamales! and the Paella Challenge.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have all day to ride VIVA, so we didn’t get to visit everything we could have. In addition to these great museums and spaces, you can also take the bus to the San Antonio Zoo, the San Antonio Botanical Garden, Brackenridge Park, San Antonio Museum of Art, Tobin Center, and Hemisfair Park. Phew. On second thought, that might take more than a day.
Thanks for giving us a ride—and letting us see our favorite city in a new way, VIA! We can’t wait to keep exploring.