A Final Look at Construction on Fresno’s New Fake BRT Line “Q”

Fresno’s new fake “BRT” (bus rapid transit) line, branded as “Q” is set to open Fall of 2017. Well, that’s what the website says.

Key Dates
Construction Kickoff: June 2016
Construction: 2016-2017
Testing: 2017
Launch: Fall 2017

In reality, the bus line was delayed yet again to February or March of this year (originally, it was expected way back in 2012).

And this time they really mean it, so they’re hosting public meetings to educate people on what the bus line is. The first one is this week:


Shaw & Blackstone Corridor
January 17, 2018 | 5:30 pm–7:00 pm
Tornino’s
5080 N Blackstone Ave
Fresno, CA 93710 

Quick aside: This is a complete failure of public outreach and engagement. Asking people to come to YOU, on a certain date, at a certain time is public outreach in name only. FAX knows where the customers are (on the bus and at the stations). FAX should come to the people. Nobody is going to take time and money out of their day to go to a random location to hear some official talk about a kiosk. Worse: The three meetings are in the same time period (5:30pm-7pm) so anyone who works during those hours is out of luck.

Depressing. I recently read about a city which launched a new bus service and advertised it by mailing info to every house within 1/4 mile of the route. That’s outreach.

Also, at some point they should maybe tell the public how this will affect the two existing bus lines that currently run on Blackstone and Kings Canyon. I’ve yet to see any information about that.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the construction shortly before the new line opens. This post looks at a regular stop in Blackstone, the Manchester Transfer Center, and the Van Ness stop by the Courthouse Transfer Station.

Previous updates:
September 2017
January 2017

We start at a random bus stop on Blackstone and Clinton. This location previously had a regular bus stop, shelter, and bench.

Like all the Q bus stops, the sidewalk was pushed out into the roadway. This is because the stations require extra space, and because it means the bus doesn’t have to pull out of traffic. Pulling out slows the bus because drivers don’t let the bus merge back in.

Oddly enough, this stop already had a shelter and bench, so the sidewalk was already wider. They actually REMOVED sidewalk in this process….why?

You can see the sidewalk to the left is all even, rather than extending back a bit towards the store. This actually causes the “newly widened” sidewalk to have a narrow pinch point. Couldn’t those electrical boxes be kept in the back?

IMG_0251_32591

On the other end, the sidewalk extension doesn’t go all the way to the corner. Why?

IMG_0252_32592

Here’s looking north.

IMG_0253_32593

And with a bus that didn’t stop.

IMG_0254_32594

Some people have worried that extending the stop out has made the lane too narrow. Nope. Look at the blue car in relation to the width of the lane. The sidewalk could have been extended another 5 feet or more.

IMG_0255_32595

The stops have bicycle racks.

IMG_0256_32596

Garbage cans.

IMG_0257_32597

A semi-transparent roof. I don’t know what’s up there.

IMG_0258_32598

This stop was not fortunate enough to get seating with back support.The stop previously had two benches, so this is actually a downgrade.

IMG_0259_32599

There are now ticket machines.

IMG_0261_32601

IMG_0262_32602

They take credit cards

IMG_0263_32603

Everything is in English and Spanish.

….except the “language” button. Really. Oddly, “Cards” is in white text in English, while all the other English is in black text.

IMG_0264_32604

The map is still locked away

IMG_0266_32606

The (unnecessarily large) electrical box is to support the kiosk and also a time estimate, although I didn’t notice a screen.

IMG_0268_32608

And one last look.

IMG_0269_32609

Now we move to the Manchester Center Transfer Center. This place closed a year ago. When I visited in August, I was shocked at how little progress had been made at what is the busiest bus stop in Fresno.

Four months later, it’s not looking much better.

IMG_0315_32655

A year of construction and they couldn’t even level the place.

IMG_0316_32656

IMG_0318_32658

For reference, this is what the old shelters looked like

IMG_0496_24964

IMG_0319_32659

IMG_0322_32662

A lot of FAX buses will stop here. The stop at the end is for Q.

IMG_0320_32660

Very similar to the previous stop we looked at.

IMG_0323_32663

The ticket kiosk and map.

IMG_0324_32664

But two benches, one with back support, one without.

IMG_0326_32666

This trash can is open for business.

IMG_0327_32667

There are bike racks, but they were installed incorrectly. They should be rotated 90 degrees, or else you can only lock 4 bikes rather than 6.

IMG_0328_32668

Note the location of the push button. This is a good installation. The location we’ll look at downtown was installed badly.

IMG_0329_32669

The Blackstone crosswalk. This was built brand new in 2016…and then never opened. They ripped it all up and built it again. Your Fresno money at work. (Although the newer design is much better). However, the push button is not well located.

IMG_0330_32670

(The pedestrian crossing is functional, I pushed the button and it quickly changed)

IMG_0332_32672

IMG_0331_32671

IMG_0333_32673

From the parking lot.

IMG_0340_32680

And now we go downtown to the Courthouse Transfer Center on Van Ness.

Q will stop at island platform, the other routes along the courthouse park like always.

DSC_0330_32337

Same design here as the other stops.

DSC_0331_32338

DSC_0345_32352

Except this one has a longer roof than the random stop on Blackstone. Only one bench though.

DSC_0334_32341

Other direction

DSC_0341_32348

DSC_0349_32356

New crosswalks built to the islands at a new signal. Remember earlier how I called out the push button? These are badly installed because they are relatively out of the way.

DSC_0340_32347

DSC_0351_32358

One thing they did do well is install the vehicle detection. See the circle and lines in the pavement? That’s how the traffic signal knows a bus is waiting. A bus can stop behind the white line, load, and then when ready to cross, move forward to trigger the traffic signal. (As long as the drivers are told to do this).

DSC_0342_32349

The angle of the red/green arrows is a novelty in Fresno. But the signal on the far left is a waste of money.

DSC_0350_32357

The other shelters in the transfer center were updated. I think the design is pretty cool, but I love Art Deco.

DSC_0336_32343

DSC_0337_32344

For reference this is what the old ones looked like. They were horrendously ugly, but they provided a lot more cover.

Is it too much to ask for the shelters to be both attractive and large?

IMG_0300_24770

That’s it for the Fresno FAX Q update!

Service is supposed to start soon, and hopefully it improved the lives of those using the bus system to get around. Faster boarding will speed up trips, and buses every 10 minutes (during peak hours) will be well used.

Shame it took a decade to built what many other cities call “standard bus service.”

My next post will be a look at construction inside the Manchester Center Mall. The new food hall was supposed to open this winter, will it? (Hint: No).

12 Replies to “A Final Look at Construction on Fresno’s New Fake BRT Line “Q””

  1. I dont know why it takes the city sooo damn long to get anything built? A project like this would have been done in 6 mos to a yr in PHX, or L.A. Im not sure of the function of the diagonal red arrows?? I wont use the Q, but hopefully riders will.

  2. Did you guys hear about the three mixed use residential developments planned for Blackstone?

    https://www.google.com/amp/amp.fresnobee.com/news/local/article186408178.html

    Blackstone and Home, btw, is basically urban junk, a rotten site that never developed properly.

    https://www.google.com/amp/amp.fresnobee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/political-notebook/article188878259.html

    I like the rendering, on street parking, complete sidewalks, and street trees to boot. I like the use of vegetation as a barrier to Blackstone. That brave building is blazing a trail for a much more livable Blackstone. I really hope they encourage on street parking, Blackstone *needs* to be slowed down, and on street parking and narrower lane widths help to naturally regulate speed. I also really want to see the broad continental crosswalks, maybe a HAWK or stoplight to.

    1. I also think that FAX needs a complete redesign and large revamping of its system. It would be really nice to see the dead Manchester Mall removed as a hub, and that hub turned into the length of Blackstone with multiple bus routes running multiple blocks on Blackstone in aims of reducing headways on that street. Instead of waiting the +20 minutes just to go a couple blocks farther on Blackstone, imagine instead catching the Route 45 in 7 minutes and riding that out instead. It's hitting the high service areas with all FAX has got in efforts of creating lower headways overall. That blended with these mixed use urban developments can yield some pretty sweet results. Modest, but a good start. Imagine living on Blackstone, being able to take a short walk to buy groceries and then later in the evening catching FAX to go out to River Park to hang out while enjoying very low headways of 10 minutes or less off of peak hours. Just imagine a day when light rail goes in, that'll be the day, traffic moving at a safe sane speed with so much in walking distance. People and cyclists no longer terrified to walk the street, but something allot quiter to.I honestly think of Long Beach Blvd. A posted speed of about 25-30mph, 4 total car lanes, 2 light rail lines, and a ton of public transport hitting the peak areas again, again, and again cutting down headways to go a block or two.

  3. I challenge the designers and approvers of those shelters to sit (or stand, since there is little seating) under them for 20 minutes on a super rainy day or a very hot and sunny day. They look totally impractical. The translucent blue roof is going to look dirty unless there is a very aggressive cleaning schedule (haha).

    1. Yes I agree anonymous. Within a yr that translucent glass will be filled with dead leaves and dust over the yrs to the point where you wont be able to see through it thus transforming into permanent shade lol.

  4. Can you tell me how much the Fresno Q has cost to construct? On The Transport Politic the figure is $50 million. I think I read somewhere else that the cost was $30 million. A long time ago I thought I read somewhere that Fresno was getting $38 million for this from the fed. If the construction cost is $50 million, how is the difference being made up? State funding? Local funding? Measure C money? All of the above?

    I seem to recall also hearing that Fresno bus ridership is down overall. Something like 14 million linked (unlinked?) rides. Do you have any figures on this? I also heard where the city was dangerously close to losing its bus subsidy; farebox recovery ratio somewhere around 25 percent. 25 percent appears to be the threshold level.

    I like The Independent's reference to light rail. High-speed rail entering the Valley with stations in Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield may be the impetus for the Valley to finally get light rail. I wonder which city it will be first. Any other station stop along the under-construction high-speed rail system outside of the Valley, will afford a transfer between high-speed trains, light rail trains and heavy-rail commuter trains. Bakersfield will have an outlying station, Fresno's won't allow for a direct connection with Amtrak. Merced may be a different story depending upon where the station will be located to serve HSR.

    Back to the Fresno Q, it will only be a success if it attracts additional riders.

    1. Good questions. Off the top of my head it was $40m with the balance paid by measure C, but Ill look into it. And yes, ridership has gone down a lot. I'll post an update with the latest figures once theyre released (which is quarterly)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.