Categories : Fresno Transit4 Comments
Fresno’s new night bus service comes with some big asterisks
Fresno’s bus system (FAX) recently launched “night” service on May 1st. When I wrote about this news, details were quite sparse. Indeed, the FAX website didn’t update with the new schedules until the first day of the extended service. Unfortunately, some of those details have been disappointing.
Here are the issues which really only became clear AFTER service launched.
- Only Monday to Friday
- 1 hour wait between buses after 6pm
- Only 5 routes offering “night” service
- ….and only on select portions of those 5 routes
What is night service?The reason I am putting quotation marks around “night” is because in most cities, the announcement of night service tends to mean buses running at 2am, 3am or 4am. In Fresno, “night” means new service between 9pm and midnight. Critically important, yes, but a reflection of how poor service used to be.
Only Monday to FridayI had guessed the first point, based off the newsletter announcement, so it wasn’t as much of a surprise. However, it is still ridiculous that bus service on Saturdays, across all of Fresno, ends at around 7pm. To be fair, service was not reduced on weekends, so there has not been a decline in service. That being said, the new “night” service highlights how poor weekend service is. That is something that should be addressed.
Long headwaysAnother concern is that nothing pre-launch talked about frequencies at all. Earlier this year, FAX launched “FAX-15,” or buses running every 15 minutes (vs every 20 or 30) on select lines. However, that service level ends early, before 7pm. On route 38 for example, one of the busiest lines in the system, buses arrive every 15 minutes from start of service (6:15am) until 7pm. Then there is a 35 minute wait, followed by a 57 minute wait, and the last 4 runs are an hour apart. Line 30, the busiest route, and the future fake BRT line, is actually less impressive. 6am – 5:30pm – every 15 minutes Then 20 minutes, then 35 for 3 runs, then 45 minutes, and finally once an hour from 9pm to midnight.
It’s also important to note that FAX STILL lacks a bus tracker. So an uneven schedule is even worse for riders, since you can’t memorize the times.
Limited routesThe biggest asterisk came with the reveal of the new map. Mind you, it’s a nice looking map. That’s missing huge chunks of Fresno West Fresno isn’t even invited to the map. Riverpark, apparently, is the northern border of the city. East-west travel is not advised. On the other hand, the routes they chose are decent. With the exception of route 32 (which I would guess was political), the highest ridership lines received new service. However, does a downtown transfer hub make sense at 11pm? That’s not where the jobs are. That’s not where the residents are. And frankly, that’s not where people want to be standing around waiting for their connections. Downtown obviously needs service, but running both 30 and 28 so close together south of Shields seems unnecessary. A Shields crosstown bus would probably impact more people.
Limited sectionsAside from only covering 5 routes, the chosen routes will not run their entire length during the “night” service. The reason seems to be to keep the entire night operation running with a grand total of 9 buses. Route 32, for example, usually runs all the way up to Riverpark, as does 38, which actually terminates downtown via south Fresno. Route 28 usually ends at Fresno State. I’m not saying the 5 chosen routes shouldn’t be shortened – making modifications absolutely makes sense. I’m just saying it’s a surprise. Well, except in the case of Route 32. Here is the normal run.
The problem, is that the (extremely) shortened route is scheduled as follows: