Improvements have arrived to Fresno’s bus system (FAX). The most impactful, for riders, was the introduction of FAX15 on January 9th. The initiative saw the return of 15-minute frequencies on portions of route 9 and 38, from 6am to 6pm. What most cities consider “standard service” is a luxury Fresno riders will be happy to have.
Oddly enough, none of the marketing for the new service mentioned what routes were affected. The new webpage said “Shaw and Cedar.”
ABC-30, the Fresno Bee, and all other reported the same:
The route maps, and the system map, indicate the enhanced service area with a dash system.A PDF was also created that sort of shows it.
So why is this happening?
You might remember recently I posted about how Fresno held a workshop on emphasizing frequency over bus coverage. In that plan, the idea was to keep the FAX budget constant, while increasing frequency on key routes. The cost came from pulling buses on other routes, along with savings from route changes and finding efficiencies.
None of that happened this month however. The FAX network continues to look almost identical to the system designed in the early 1970’s.
So where did the money come from?
Well, you might remember that about a decade ago, Fresno already had 15-minute frequencies. Indeed that lasted for three years.
In both cases, then and now, the answer comes from Federal Grants. Grants for funding operations are incredibly rare, and yet Fresno has benefited twice. Of course, last time, once the grant ended, Fresno didn’t add a single dollar into the budget, so frequencies fell back to 30-minutes. However, this caused immediate overcrowding, as the 15-minute “trial” was a success. By moving buses around, FAX compromised on 20-minute rush hour frequencies on the main 3 lines, at the expense of other routes which have since vanished.