Wide-reaching SWART service aims to help

For $15, area residents can be picked up at their home and dropped off at the terminal of choice at San Antonio International Airport by a Southwest Area Regional Transit van.

Caveats for the one-way trip might be an early departure time, depending upon where riders are picked up between Uvalde and Sabinal, and that the trips to San Antonio can only be booked for Monday through Friday.

A round-trip ride to San Antonio to shop at a mall, go to a museum, or visit a doctor’s office, is also possible, and can be had for $30. The caveat for the round-trip ride is that riders must be ready to be picked up for the return trip to Uvalde between 11:45 a.m. and 1 p.m., depending upon the drop-off point.

Two days a week, afternoon trips to San Antonio are possible.

While it is necessary to reserve all SWART rides at least 24 hours in advance, no intake forms are necessary, and there is no maximum income limit.

SWART serves its entire community regardless of income level or ability.

The first two weeks of the month, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, SWART has a direct route from Uvalde to the Lucky Eagle Casino. For $15, riders can make that round trip – and there’s a bonus for those riders. They get $10 in Lucky Eagle Bucks from the casino when they arrive.

The van leaves for the casino at 9:30 a.m. and arrives at the casino at 11. It leaves the casino for the return trip to Uvalde at 4 p.m.

Any other day, it is $20 to go round-trip to Eagle Pass from Uvalde.

The transit system operates on a cash basis, and riders should have cash to to pay the driver.

Since SWART serves an eight-county region, there are drivers in key cities of the eight counties, including Del Rio, Uvalde, Eagle Pass, Crystal City, and Brackettville, so there are routes to serve each of those areas as well.

While riders are assessed fees to use SWART vans, the rural transit system is primarily funded through the Federal Transit Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation Rural Public Transportation Program.

SWART is mandated to match government funds, and assessed fees are one way the service is funded.

Like all government funded and regulated rapid transit systems, SWART’s mission is to improve transit options for the entire population of the region it serves and to have a positive economic impact.

Sarah Hidalgo-Cook, SWART general manager, oversees the district for the eight-county region, which includes Dimmit, Edwards, Kinney, La Salle, Maverick, Real, and Zavala counties. Hidalgo-Cook said that all Texas state transit systems are driven by the economic impact they have on the community they serve. She said statistics are kept on where SWART riders travel.

“If a business, such as Walmart or H-E-B asks us, ‘Who are you bringing to our store?’ we can tell them.”

SWART was recognized in 2020 as the 2020 Texas State Rural Transit System of the Year and named its assistant general manager, Cynthia Z. Rodriguez, the 2020 state agency staff member of the year.

To find out more about SWART rates, routes, and opportunities, visit paseoswart.org/routes.

To reserve a ride, call dispatch at 1-800-499-1617. Hidalgo-Cook says to be sure to call 24 hours in advance and to call early in the day because “usually, by 10 a.m. our vans are booked for the next day.”