With a population of 520,000, Fresno is not a small town. And yet until now, the bus system, FAX, has acted like it serves a population of 50,000. Currently, service ends before 10pm on weekdays – all trips depart their last run around 9pm. On weekends it’s even worse – the buses are in their garages by 7pm.
This will finally change in 3 weeks.
A FAX bus downtown
On May 1, weekday service until approximately 1 a.m. will be launched. Weekend service bus frequencies will improve — most routes will deliver
service every 30 minutes.
The new schedules haven’t been released yet, so I am interpreting “until approximately 1 a.m” as the buses will start their final runs around midnight, concluding service at around 1am.
For example, Route 9, which recently received improved 15-minute service, currently starts the final trip eastbound at 9:13pm, ending at 9:56pm, and the last westbound trip departing at 9:14pm and concludes at 10:01pm. FAX (Fresno Area Express) advertises their service as operating until 10pm.
The expansion should mean three extra hours of service every weekday.
Unfortunately weekends are still a disaster. However, the FAQ on the Q bus website (Fresno’s upcoming fake BRT), does suggest that weekends will also see some improvements:
Do BRT routes operate longer hours of service than traditional routes?BRT routes will operate the same hours as traditional
routes. Traditional routes will soon be expanding night and weekend
services. BRT will also operate those same hours.
As far as I can tell, there’s no way to confirm this with the information they have released publicly. FAX continues to do a poor job of advertising their changes and improvements. They appear to rely on the on-board automated announcements as the primary source of information dissemination, which means non-riders have no way to hear about these improvements.
I’ve talked in the past about how having such a poor transit system helps Fresno sustain one of the highest unemployment rates in the county. After all, people can’t start jobs they can’t reach. And in a service economy, most jobs aren’t 9 to 5. How do you work at a restaurant that closes at 11pm if your only transportation option closes shop at 10pm?
Additionally, I’ve talked about how Fresno’s system has seen continuous declines in ridership, which makes sense because a stagnant system in a rapidly growing city becomes less and less useful over time, as it fails to serve new businesses, employment centers, and residential areas.
Hopefully 2017 sees a reverse in these trends. New 10-minute service on Blackstone, 15-minute service on two other lines, and expanded hours will allow people to use FAX to get to work. If expanded weekend service materializes, FAX may finally become a reasonable option. especially if the routes are analyzed to better serve new commercial centers.
After nearly a decade of service cuts and fare increases, it’s nice to finally report on some good news at FAX.