Fresno councilors trying to kill infill general plan again

Developers aching for more sprawl versus everybody else. Sound familiar? It should, because in December of 2014, I published this post: Will Fresno council kill infill general plan? with that exact sentence.

Five years later, here we are again.

As a reminder, the 2035 General Plan Update (enacted in late 2014) directed Fresno to focus on infill development instead of continuous sprawl. Local developers were furious, and pulled every trick they could to block it. Fortunately, the council at the time did listen to the people of Fresno, who throughout the public process strongly preferred curtailing sprawl. Click to read more!

Amtrak San Joaquin…without Amtrak?

ABC 30 ran an interesting news article last week: Manager of Valley’s San Joaquin trains may ditch Amtrak as operator

The executive director of San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), Stacey Mortensen, told the House Transportation committee that Amtrak charges three times as much per passenger to run the San Joaquin trains, compared to the Altamont Corridor Express or ACE.

Mortensen is the leader of both the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, which manages the operators of both routes.

“Amtrak, exceeds its own budget projections year after year with little or any explanation. Their only remedy has been to seek additional funding from our state,” said Mortenson.

If the agency’s issues with Amtrak can’t be resolved, Mortensen feels the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority may be forced into looking for another provider to operate passenger trains on the San Joaquin route. Click to read more!

Fresno gets $2.2m for bus stop ADA upgrades

FAX, Fresno’s transit system, received a $2.2 million grant to build ADA upgrades at several stops around town. According to FAX:

The funding will provide an accessible location to wait for the bus and an accessible pathway for passengers to get to and from the sidewalk to a median bus island bus stop.  Improvements include:  adding or enlarging concrete bus stop landings, construction curb cuts, and adding new bus stop amenities such as shelters, benches and trash receptacles.

Fresno Area Express

The agency created a hilariously basic render of what these improvements could look like, which you can see at the top of this post. Click to read more!

Fresno Saturday night bus service has launched

This weekend, FAX, Fresno’s transit agency, added Saturday night service to five lines, with “night” meaning bus runs between 6pm and midnight.

When I posted about it a few weeks ago, the schedules were not posted. I asked FAX about it, and they said they would be uploaded “when the schedules go into effect” which seems like a poor way to get the word out.

Well, the schedules are now in effect, and they can be downloaded at the following links:

1

9

28

32

38

Saturday night service is noted by a shaded area on the weekend page. Looks like they might need to fix the PDF though, as there is overlapping text. Click to read more!

Madera Amtrak Station will relocate again

I have mentioned it in passing, but plans are underway (PDF) to relocate the Madera Amtrak station within the next three years. The title of this post says “again” because the station was moved to its current location in 2010.

Why do they want to move it? Because it has the lowest ridership of any station along the San Joaquin line, and the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority thinks the location is to blame. At least that’s the official reasoning. I propose my own theory at the end of this post.

Madera has a population of 65,000, which is higher than Hanford (56k), and Corcoran (22k). Those stations get more Amtrak ridership because the train stops downtown. Unfortunately for Madera, the rail line runs well to the east of the city. That is, it doesn’t matter where the station is located, it will never serve downtown. Click to read more!

Sears Closing: What does it mean for Manchester Center?

It was inevitable, but it still comes as a shock: the Sears at Manchester Center is closing.

Last time I toured Manchester Center, in January 2019, I asked “what will happen first: the food hall opens, or Sears closes?” Now we have our answer.

Last January, the store was shrinking.

While Sears may not be the hottest shop in town, it still draws some shoppers. The Sierra Vista location, which they lease, is profitable enough that it will remain open (at least for another holiday season). Their Manchester Center rent is zero, as they own the building and the land it sits on. While the store is connected to the mall, it’s not actually part of it, which is why the store entrance is not centered (title image). Click to read more!

Fresno is asking for public comments on the “Trail Network Expansion Feasibility Plan”

The City of Fresno recently published their draft (PDF) of the “Trail Network Expansion Feasibility Plan,” and they are looking for public comments until November 12, 2019.

According to the city:

The Fresno Trail Network Expansion Feasibility Plan (Plan) builds on the City of Fresno’s efforts to develop the Class I bikeway (trails) network proposed in the adopted 2016 Fresno Active Transportation Plan. The goal of the project is to prioritize all planned but currently unfunded trails, to select five corridors, roughly five miles in length, and to develop concept designs and analyze the feasibility for the five selected corridors. The resulting recommendations will help the City begin to build out its trail network. Click to read more!

Fresno FC shuts down. Who is to blame?

Sad news came Tuesday that Fresno’s professional soccer team, Fresno Football Club (FC), would be shutting down or relocating. Late Wednesday, the team owner confirmed he was moving the team to Monterey. The first part didn’t come as an immediate surprise: rumors have been swirling for weeks, which sent the team into a losing streak. The team was just two years old.

Fresno FC played in the “USL Championship,” which is one level down from Major League Soccer. Essentially, it’s the equivalent of AAA baseball, like the Grizzlies. Fresno played in the western conference, along with teams like the Las Vegas Lights, Phoenix Rising, Reno 1868, and Sacramento Republic. Click to read more!

Fresno night bus service expands to Saturdays

Two and a half years ago, Fresno Area Express (FAX) created a “night bus” network by extending bus service past 9pm on the five busiest bus routes. This new service came with a major asterisk:

  • Only Monday to Friday
  • 1 hour wait between buses after 9pm
  • Only 5 routes offering “night” service 
  • ….and only on select portions of those 5 routes

Starting November 16, at least one of those issues will be improved: service will be extended to include Saturday nights as well.

The bus routes affected include routes 1, 9, 28, 32, and 38, which are the same routes that saw a previous service expansion. Handy Ride, the on-demand paratransit service, will also follow the new extended hours.

Current weekend service in Fresno is abysmal, with even the “BRT” route (Route 1) starting the final runs around 6pm. This reality stands in contrast to the claims that Fresno government is invested in revitalizing downtown and attracting night life. Unfortunately, this news may have come too late for the Fresno Foxes. Click to read more!

CA-99 Widening Defunded – Where is the Money Going?

Two weeks ago, CBS47 lobbed the following headline: Gov. Newsom redirects gas tax money to fund railway systems, not highways.

Unfortunately, the reporting was pretty light on details. Where is the money going? Where did the money even come from? CBS got the following statement from Caltrans:

The state is confronting the climate crisis head on. In doing so, Caltrans will use available transportation dollars to prioritize projects that manage congestion and reduce vehicle miles traveled in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Those who claim the state is canceling projects funded by gas tax dollars are incorrect. Aligning climate goals with transportation goals requires new thinking, not obstructionism. Click to read more!