Fresno State, officially California State University, Fresno, has for decades been a driving university. The campus arrived at its current location in 1956, and at the time it was located far from the city. That was intentional – with agriculture as a core mission, the University purposely surrounded itself with farms. Even today, the 388-acre main campus is attached to the 1,011-acre University Farm. As such, one was expected to drive to campus. Especially because students came from all over the Central Valley.
What happens when a city won’t stop growing, but the transit system doesn’t grow with it? The system becomes less useful. And the less useful the system is, the less riders will use it. Welcome to Fresno.
We know that bus ridership is down a tad nationwide, but in many cities, it is because riders have taken to trains. Unfortunately, that’s not possible in Fresno, where the bus is your one and only transit option. That means a decline in bus ridership indicates more driving, or worse, less trips being taken (i.e, people not being able to get to jobs).
This weekend, public transit service begins for the first time connecting Fresno to Yosemite. Aside from serving a tourist purpose, the system also will operate as an important commuter and community connection. Thanks to the anonymous comment letting me know the schedule was up!
Stops will be at:
- Fresno Greyhound
- Fresno Amtrak
- Fresno Airport
- Fresno State
- Outside Kaiser Permanente Hospital (near River Park)
- Madera, Highway 145 Park and Ride
- Coarsegold Market
- Oakhurst Best Western
- Tenaya Lodge
- Wawona Hotel
- Yosemite Valley (three stops)
YARTS has developed an extensive long-distance bus network to serve Yosemite.
The first bus leaves the Fresno airport bright and early at 4am, with the next four trips starting at the Greyhound station at 7:52am, 9:10am, 12:10pm and 2:10pm. A final commuter run leaves Fresno at 5:45pm and goes only as far as Oakhurst.
I got an interesting email today from the Fresno Council of Governments, the metropolitan planning agency for the Fresno area.
They’re conducting a study on how to improve FAX, which like most studies, includes public comment. Apparently, they put a survey online in late May, and sent out emails yesterday because the deadline is next week.
They’re paying the good folks at Parsons Brincherhoff large sums of money to do this.
In an effort to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our existing fixed route bus systems, the Fresno Council of Governments is currently examining the metropolitan area’s travel patterns for both Fresno and Clovis through extensive surveys and analysis of area transit riders and non-riders.
Project documents are available for review on the Fresno Council of Governments website at www.fresnocog.org/strategic-transit-plan. Please take our survey and share your preferences about the transit system.
Public comments are encouraged and may be submitted in writing by 5:00 p.m. on June 23, 2014 to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sounds great right? A perfect opportunity to tell them that the area transit sucks, and they must do more to improve it.
Nashville, and the ludicrous attempts to ban bus rapid transit (BRT) there by state legislators, has been getting all the news lately, but it’s not the only BRT system to see its future flushed down the toilet by short-sighted elected officials.
After two months of “retooling,” the Fresno BRT project returned to the City Council a few weeks ago; problem is, there was no BRT left to approve.
Back in January, the Fresno city council put a temporary hold on the $50 million BRT plan which had been in the works since 2008. Even though the process had gone through dozens of public workshops, council presentations, and other forms of outreach, the council acted as if this was the first time they’d heard about it. I wrote about their “concerns” here.
BRT is in the news again in Fresno. It’s sad for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they’re arguing about funding when the system was originally supposed to open this year. Fun fact: the RFP for the BRT buses went out in 2011. A winning bid was selected but obviously the buses have not been ordered.
Today, the city council will vote yet again on approving funding. Not city funding, but federal funding, free money that has fallen from the sky and is intended to help the city fix a portion of its terrible transit system.
One of our frequent commentators is going to like this news.
Clovis has received a grant from Homeland Security to install solar lighting systems at various bus stops around town.
I find homeland security to be an absurd waste of money, so I think it’s fantastic that Clovis is milking the cow to actually produce real benefits for local residents. I don’t understand how a light at a bus stop is meant to deter terrorism … but it’s money the transit system can use for a good cause – customer service.
Part of the recent release of the 2014 federal budget included a list of what the FTA will fund as part of their “small starts” program. That budget includes another piece of the Fresno BRT (bus rapid transit) funding puzzle – another $10 million. The Fresno Bee last reported on the initial $17.8m grant over two years ago. No money was handed out in the 2013 budget.
BRT in Fresno is supposed to improve bus service along Blackstone and Kings Canyon, via downtown (and eventually the high speed rail station). Those are currently the corridors with highest bus ridership.
Over at The Transport Politic, Yonah Freemark recently wrote an excellent article looking at per capital funding across the nation for transit. A large focus of his report was the inequality present in funding, and how low income areas, the ones which most need better transit, are the ones with the lowest amount of support for their systems. He draws the conclusion that the shift to local funding, instead of federal, can lead to big problems.
Naturally, Fresno is a prime example of an area that desperately needs more transit, but doesn’t allocate sufficient funding for it. Later on in this post, I will use his charts to show that Fresno predictably ranks near last in the 65 cities he looked at.
Yesterday’s City Council meeting included a presentation from the “City of Fresno Transit Rates and Service Committee” which issued a report outlining short, medium and long term goals for FAX (Fresno Area Express). The committee was formed in 2010 during steep city budget shortfalls, and recommended a fare hike of 25 cents, which was put into effect January 2011, resulting in fares of $1.25. That would be to correct the “problem” that was the political decision of keeping mass transit affordable, and on par with peer systems.