In February of this year, Fresno finally launched the “Q,” a new express bus line with increased peak service along the two busies transit corridors in the city. In addition, the system expanded service hours past 9pm and added live bus arrival times. While it is way too early to make any definitive statements about how Q has impacted FAX (Fresno Area Express), the early data looks promising. We now have data showing three full months under the new service plan, and the initial results are good.
The Fresno Council of Governments (COGs) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Fresno area. Basically, their job is to ensure planning is done on a regional basis, rather than a city-by-city basis. Or in their words:
The Fresno Council of Governments (Fresno COG) is a consensus builder, developing acceptable programs and solutions to issues that do not respect political boundaries. Fresno COG is a voluntary association of local governments, one of California’s 38 regional planning agencies, and one of 500+ nationwide. In 1967 elected officials of Fresno County and its incorporated cities informally created the agency, formalizing Fresno COG in 1969 through a Joint Powers Agreement. Fresno COG undertakes comprehensive regional planning with an emphasis on transportation, provides citizens an opportunity to be involved in the planning process, and supplies technical services to its members.
The Amtrak San Joaquin line, running from Bakersfield to Sacramento and Oakland, is operated by the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA). This local operation means we get a good amount of info on their upcoming plans. Recently, they released a draft of their new business plan. Additionally, they have a public meeting later this week. Here is a summary of what is coming up:
Early Morning Express Service
The early morning express, from Fresno to Sacramento launches on May 7. Trains will arrive in Sacramento at 7:41am. I talk about the schedule in this post.
I’m not a fan of flashy “silver bullet” projects that promise to revitalize depressed areas. Most recently, Fresno promised that removing the Fulton Mall and turning it into Fulton Street would revitalize the area. That hasn’t happened. Fifteen years ago, Chukchansi Park was sold with the same promise. Build a new stadium,, and people will come downtown to watch AAA baseball!
Well, sort of. People do go to the stadium to attend events and Grizzlies games. But they drive in, park across the street, watch the event, and then drive away ASAP.
All the changes at FAX took my attention last month, but now I finally have time to post my latest update on the changes going on in Old Town Clovis!
We start in the center, which is the area surrounding the new Centennial Plaza. Construction here is all done, and the new new buildings and plaza are looking good.
For reference, this is what the area looked like in 2011, according to Google Streetview:
And after the plaza was built, but before the buildings went up:
A few years ago, I made a post about how Bakersfield was planning to bulldoze a neighborhood to build yet another freeway. I am rarely in Bakersfield, so in those 5 years, I didn’t really follow the project, aside from knowing it was chugging along. (I actually did stop in Bakersfield in August for dinner, coming back from Six Flags, but didn’t explore). Usually, big infrastructure projects take years to happen. At the time, Bakersfield was looking at alternative routes. If it takes Fresno 10 years to build improved bus stops, Boston 30 years to extend a trolley route, and NYC 60 years to add a subway station, surely things in Bakersfield would move slowly. Demolishing an existing neighborhood is no small feat.
With the recent launch of the new “Q” bus service in Fresno, many articles have been asking if this will stop the decline in bus ridership. However, I have yet to see any article actually talk about numbers. What has the decline been? How long has it been happening? Well, let’s solve that mystery and dive right in!
I last looked at ridership in July 2015. That post was titled “7 years of decline.” Unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten better.
We begin with the big picture: Ridership by month on Fresno’s bus system, FAX, from July 2005 to December 2017. These numbers are for regular buses only, not including para-transit. Clovis, which operates its own system, is also not included.
Hopefully, you’ve noticed some minor changes to this website. Although minor is somewhat major considered I haven’t changed anything since I launched back in 2011.
Basically, a year or so into doing this blog, I decided I should probably get a custom URL instead of stopandmove.blogspot.com . Unfortunately, someone already owned www.stopandmove.com . They weren’t actually doing anything – it led to a page advertising the company that sold the URL – but they sat on it for YEARS. Every once in awhile I’d check, and sure enough, no changes to the ownership.
What’s the best time to let people know you’re making some major changes to bus routes? If you’re FAX, Fresno’s bus system, the answer appears to be “the day of.”
On Monday February 19, Q launches, which is Fresno’s new rapid bus service on Blackstone and Kings Canyon (recent construction photos here). The route was chosen because it covers two of the busiest transit corridors. Naturally, those corridors have existing bus services, which will change once the new system is introduced.
Paris got real-time bus tracking in 1996. In the United States, NextBus launched in Emeryville in 1999. In the Central Valley, tiny Visalia adopted the technology in 2011.
And now in 2018, finally, Fresno’s bus system has real-time bus tracking!
This is incredibly important because it makes riding the bus predictable. No more standing in the heat wondering if your bus is late…or if it came early and you missed it!
As far as I can tell, they haven’t advertised this feature. No press release, nothing on the website. I didn’t even notice it myself, but it was pointed out to me by Joe in the comments. Thanks Joe!