That controversial downtown streetcar scheme cleared a major hurdle today, when the Federal Transit Administration approved the project for federal funding, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  VIA Metro transit says the approval doesn't guarantee that federal money will start flowing, but it makes sure it remains 'on a path' to receive federal dollars.  Local funding is already in place through a partnership between the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and the Texas Department of Transportation.  the Federal dollars are dependent on local funding being raised.


  "This continues our advancement of the transformative streetcar project at the federal level," VIA's Jeffrey Arndt said.  "We are seeking to leverage our local funding to provide the complete system adopted by the VIA Board and bring those federal dollars to San Antonio."


  VIA says integrating the streetcar with current bus transit will enhance downtown mobility.  Opponents say the streetcar is a waste of money, and will strip traditional bus service from underserved areas of the city.  They are fighting for a public vote on the streetcar plan.