A lawsuit filed agaisnt VIA Metro Transit to stop that wildly unpopular downtown streetcar plan will also address one simple question: are politicians legally responsible to follow through on promises they make to the voters during election season.
The lawsuit asks a judge to halt construction of the $280 million streetcar project on the grounds that the two major downtown streetcar stations, the Thompson Station near the Alamodome and the West Side Multi Modal Station near UTSA, would be built with money from the 2004 Advanced Transportation District sales tax election. During that election, anti streetcar activist George Rodriguez says VIA and other politicians pushing for approval of the half cent sales tax to fund transportation projects, specifically told the voters in public meetings and in printed literature that none of the money would be used for light rail projects.
"These is a complete violation of the trust of the people by the elected officials," Rodriguez told 1200 WOAI news. "They have said that they would not do this, and they turn around ten years later and they are planning to do exactly what they promised they would not do."
The lawsuit, which was filed in Travis County State District Court, seeks to have the entire streetcar project halted.
Rodriguez says in addition to conservative and taxpayer groups, the League of United Latin American Citizens is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
"They are very very upset that the money is being utilities in a manner that will have an impact on the poorer neighborhoods," he said.
Critics have long complained that the burdens of paying debt service on the streetcar will force VIA to curtain its traditional bus service to areas that need it the most, a charge that VIA has denied.
But it is clear that the streetcar plan is in big trouble. The route approved by the VIA Board costs $70 million more than the cash VIA has earmarked to pay for it. The project is so unpopular that during the 2012 city bond issue, supporters of the bond package felt obligated to include in all literature a bold faced disclaimer that 'none of the money raised by this bond issue will be used to fund VIA's downtown streetcar plan.' And Henry Munoz, the main who has spearhead the streetcar plan, has announced his resignation from the VIA board.