Fresno COGS asking for feedback on 2020 Fresno County Regional Trails Plan

The Fresno Council of Governments and Fresno County are developing the 2020 Fresno County Regional Trails Plan, which will create recommendations for the ongoing development of new trail connections that create a safe, comfortable, and connected network for walking/hiking, off-road biking and horseback riding.

Note: Don’t confuse this with the Trail Network Expansion Feasibility Plan, which is a CITY of Fresno plan. This new plan is for the entire county and will focus on unpaved recreational trails and paved shared-use paths in Fresno County, including county areas within Fresno.

There’s two ways for you to comment, a survey and a map. They both can be found on this page. You do the simple survey first, and then get shown a map of existing trails. You can then click on segments and make comments. For example, you can tell them that the Van Ness trail is not very useful. Once you’re done commenting on existing trails, you can draw your own preferred future trails. Click to read more!

Alaska Airlines adding flights to LAX from Fresno

Just a quick post to share some news from Fresno2Minneapolis on Twitter. Starting in September, Alaska Airlines will begin service twice a day between Fresno and Los Angeles! The flight will be on an Embraer RJ-175, operated by Skywest.

If all goes as planned, they would join American Airlines and United on this route. Note that due to COVID-19, those flights are currently not operating. However, if they come back as before, there would be 10 daily flights between the two cities.

The flight schedule, (assuming no more Coronavirus changes) from Fresno to LAX would be as follows:

6:00 AA
6:20 UA
7:30 Alaska
8:01 UA
11:55 AA
13:55 UA
14:00 Alaska
16:10 AA
17:57 UA
19:15 AA Click to read more!

COVID-19 Impacts to Fresno Area Transportation as of May 17, 2020

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last roundup of how COVID-19 (coronavirus) has affected transportation providers in Fresno and the surrounding areas. Time is really moving in strange ways these days. At this point, it’s clear we’ve reached the bottom in terms of service cuts, short of an airline declaring bankruptcy (cough, AA, cough). How quickly service is restored is an open question. Some transit agencies have already said they don’t expect to return to full service until the end of the year. Agencies that rely heavily on rush-hour commuters are going to be the most affected, as some jobs (such as Twitter) may remain remote forever. It will be interesting to see if those agencies restore more off-peak service than peak-service, which would create a flatter utilization of their fleet, and that may end up being a good thing in the long run. Click to read more!

On the passing of former Fresno Bee reporter George Hostetter

Last Thursday, the news came that former Fresno Bee reporter George Hostetter died of prostate cancer at age 70.

Fresno Bee

If you read this blog, you’re most likely familiar with his work, particularly his “city beat” reporting of downtown Fresno news. For years, when Mr. Hostetter needed to go to City Hall, he would get there by taking a long walk around downtown from the Bee offices on E street. It doesn’t matter what the weather was, he would walk, making notes about any development (or lack of development) along the way. He would also talk to all sorts of people to get their perspective. Click to read more!

New Rail Cars for Amtrak San Joaquin are Now Being Tested

Remember the 2010 stimulus package? Way back then, money was set aside to build new trains for Amtrak California. They were supposed to be similar to the existing bi-level models, but with an updated design, and arrive around 2016. Their arrival would allow for Amtrak California to expand train service on all three routes.

Unfortunately, the company who won the bid (Nippon-Sharyo), completely failed at that task. After several years of building a prototype, they said they could not build what they said they would. In 2016, Amtrak California announced a plan B: they would buy existing Talgo trains that had been built for Wisconsin, but never used. Except that never happened, and there’s no official reason as to why. They just stopped talking about it. Click to read more!

A look at Fresno’s improved bus stops

Last November, I reported that Fresno Area Express (FAX) received funds to update various bus stops. The upgrades include making them ADA accessible, so they can be used by those in wheelchairs, and adding new amenities like seating and shelters. Unlike the three-plus year odyssey that has been the reconstruction of the Manchester Transit Center, FAX has moved very quickly with these updates, and they’re almost all done.

For reference, here was the render they shared:

And here is what they look like in real life. Remember, they were previously just a sign planted on dirt.

You can see the new crosswalk and accessible ramps from the sidewalk to the island. Click to read more!

Fresno’s Bus Ridership Was Going up Before COVID-19

A transit agency can lose ridership extremely quickly and it can take years to build it back up again. When a bus route is cut, or service is decreased, riders are immediately affected and have to change how they get around. In some cases, that might mean getting a car and never looking back. But when service is added or increased, it can take people months or years to notice. Ask yourself, how often do you look up the schedule for buses you don’t normally ride?

In July 2015, I posted about how Fresno Area Express (FAX) had seen seven full years of ridership declines. Those declines weren’t unexpected, as the city kept cutting routes and service. In March 2018, I followed up by looking at twelve years of data, and the results weren’t pretty. Fortunately, Fresno started adding back some service. Three buses routes received more frequent (15-minute) service. “Night” buses were launched (until 10pm). Service on weekends was improved as well. In July 2018, it looked like these additions were helping FAX turn the corner. Click to read more!

Belated Downtown Fresno Photo Update

I went downtown a couple of months ago (January) to take photos, as I usually do. I hesitated on posting them because frankly, not much has changed over the last year. This is in contrast to five years ago, when there was always a new building popping up.

Then corona hit, and the photos seemed even less relevant, but now I’ve changed my mind on that. With the virus, everything is essentially frozen in time. Nothing is under construction, nothing will be open any time soon, and nobody is lining up to lay down piles of cash on new development. That is, even if the virus suddenly disappeared tomorrow, there are too many questions about the economy for investors. Will people get their jobs back? Will there be a change in demand for office space? Click to read more!

COVID-19 Impacts to Fresno Area Transportation as of April 8, 2020

Ten days ago, I decided to make a record of how COVID-19 (coronavirus) has affected transportation providers in Fresno and the surrounding areas – including the Bay Area and LA region. This post is a follow-up, to chronicle what has changed since. I have also added a few agencies I missed last week. It is sort of lucky I waited until today to make this, instead of last Sunday, as a bunch of changes go into effect today!

Local Transit

Fresno Area Express (FAX)

Officially, no changes to the schedule, but the system has been struggling with drivers calling out, as seen in this tweet:

This makes Fresno one of the only transit systems to continue running full service. Click to read more!

Environmental Impact Report for Valley Rail Project Now Open for Public Comment

Are you sitting at home, twiddling your thumbs, looking for something to do? Lucky for you, the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project is now available for public review! You have until May 15, 2020 at 5:00 p.m to send in any comments you have.

Unlike many rail projects, this is one you should take seriously, because they got $500 million in funds to actually build the thing. As I mentioned back in 2018, the improvements are aimed at both the Amtrak San Joaquin line and the ACE commuter line.

According to the project team, the purpose of Valley Rail will be: Click to read more!