Transportation tidbits

I’ve been super busy, so here is a short post with some recent transportation news I didn’t post about:

Air

  1. Starting October 28, Volaris will be adding two flights a week to Leon/Guanajuato airport. This means Fresno will now have service to three cities in Mexico! (Guadalajara and Morelia are the other two). The flight will be on an Airbus A320.
  2. United brought back the Chicago flight and upgraded it from a regional jet to a Boring 737 or Airbus 319. Flights leave Fresno at 11:15pm arriving in Chicago at 5:11am. The return flight leaves Chicago at 7:40pm and arrives in Fresno at 10:10pm. Roundtrip starts at $449, which isn’t great – but that shows demand was there last summer.
  3. It will be a little easier to fly to Japan because JAL is code-sharing with Alaska. That means you can fly Fresno-Seattle-Tokyo on one ticket, so your bags go all the way and you don’t have to check in twice.

Rail

  1. Amtrak San Joaquin schedule switches in May, supposedly on May 6. However, this new schedule is not posted on the Amtrak website yet. I talked about these changes a few months ago. The focus will be on reliability. On the current schedule, on time performance is down to 63%, which is pretty terrible.
  2. The “2019 Draft San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority Business Plan Update” (what a mouthful) has been posted here (PDF). These are created annually. Nothing too interesting. More trips are still planned “within the next 5 years”. They still think more trains to Sacramento will be the golden goose in ridership, as both new trips would go there.
  3. A new Amtrak thruway bus between Madera and San Jose is in the works. Currently, if you want to get from the Valley to San Jose on Amrak, you have to go all the way up and around. There once was a bus that went to San Jose via Los Banos and Gilroy (from Modesto I think?) but that was eliminated a decade ago.
  4. Manufacturing continues at a good pace on the new Siemens railcars that will be operating on the San Joaquin line next year. They still have no idea how they will accommodate the high-floor cars on the low-floor line. These rail cars are the same ones being used on Brightline – speaking of…
  5. Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline) has gotten a hold of $1.75 billion to extend their rail line from West Palm Beach to Orlando. It will be interesting to see how quickly they are able to build the line, compared to public projects. The current line from Miami to West Palm Beach uses tracks the company already owned for freight. The new segment has no rail infrastructure in place.
  6. The April 2019 High Speed Rail update is available here (PDF).

Road

  1. I missed this last December, but BoltBus is no longer serving Fresno. In fact, they cancelled their entire California network! Oddly, I couldn’t find any media reports about it. That leaves Fresno with Greyhound (who owns BoltBus), Flixbus, and various Mexican bus lines.
  2. Don’t believe the hype. Cars are not and will never be an appreciating asset. This is in response to a song and dance Elon Musk is planning tomorrow.
  3. Gas prices in Fresno are about to hit $4, the highest since 2014. It will be interesting to see how this affects ridership on both Amtrak and FAX. Transit ridership follows gas prices closely, which is one of the reasons why ridership on FAX and Amtrak as been down.

13 Replies to “Transportation tidbits”

  1. ha! “They still think more trains to Sacramento will be the golden goose in ridership..”

    Absolutely agree. why do they think people in the valley want to go to sacramento. Fresno is similar to sacramento without gov jobs and sac prob has a little bit more stuff. People want to connect to the bay area. Thats why HSR wouldve been nice from Fresno to SJ. Even if its not HSR if they build a rail system that went from fresno to SJ diridon station it would have a lot more ridership.

    no one wants to go to sac just to double back down to SF or SJ.

    1. Yup. Some service? Sure. But the priority should be San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. And then Sacramento.

    2. Redd, I’ve been saying exactly what you just said for YRS! Nobody gives a shit about going to Sac. Sac is just a bigger Fresno with govt magnet. What we want is an earlier depart from Fresno to the bay. And a later return back. That way more people can make a day trip out of it without feeling too rushed to make the return train. And this HSR biz is terrible. Who’s gona want to go from Shafter to Merced?? Makes no fucking sense. Gavy just has to show face and use the money for something since it’s already allocated. Once again the valley gets fucked. Unless they can somehow connect to the bay. Even SJ to connect with the Cali train. Smh. It’s not rocket science. We need to connect to the large metro area to bring that coastal money to the Central Valley. And it would help if Amtrak had an express line with fewer stops, and increase the top speed to 100mph.

  2. As far as San Jose is concerned with HSR, Fresno is a very important stop. The Gilroy HSR station will not cause a huge amount of growth there or in Salinas or Monterey. There isn’t enough water to handle a lot of growth in those areas.

    I wouldn’t expect the large tech companies to open offices in Fresno. They might open satellite offices or offices though that require a lot of space like test tracks for vehicles. I would expect a number of the small companies that are suppliers to the large companies might move to the Fresno area or at least open plants there.

    Once HSR is running, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of tech companies start subsidizing train fares for employees especially for lower paying jobs. I could also see a lot of blue collar workers from Fresno commuting to San Jose and the Bay Area. There is an article this week that just said that the Bay Area is the most expensive area for new construction. Yes, more than New York City or Hong Kong.

    The unemployment rate for the western Bay Area counties (Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara) range from 2.4 to 2.9 %. The other northern and eastern Bay Area counties (Napa, Sonoma, Alameda, and Contra Costa) range from 3.3 to 3.5%.

    1. Santa TeresaHils, yes! you just described what the HSR can do for Fresno and the bay area. But people in the valley refuse to see that. But people in the bay area are already seeing that possibility. Central valley thinking is definitely something else. What can boost the central valley is what they are totally against. I do agree that Gilroy stop is a waste, also the Madera stop is a waste. I bet those cities cut a deal with the state/HSR in order to get a stop. Madera is what 20 minutes from proposed downtown fresno stop? Gilroy is 30 min drive to SJ and already has a caltrain line. Gilroy has no room for growth as infrastructure is not there. And yes in the bay area, making $100K a year is considered low income. It’s been on a few articles and studies.

  3. Speaking of Transit, why the hell is Manchester Transit Center still not fully operational yet? It’s been almost 2 years!

  4. A couple corrections/additions to the air announcements listed:
    1) UA will be adding mainline (A319) service to DEN in October on their mid-day flight (which is conspicuously absent over the summer…a “snowball” casualty from the 737MAX groundings?).
    2) DL will go to all E-175s to SLC starting in September.
    3) You can find ORD round-trip for $339/399 (basic/economy), although there aren’t many left in the summer (quite a few after Labour Day though). As a side note, the flights have been consistently full or close to full since starting, including first class (although premium economy seems to be mostly going to “upgrades”).
    4) Not sure if you mentioned these in an earlier post, but AA has resumed mainline service to PHX for their mid-day flight, at least until August, and the red-eye to DFW will operate through the fall (competition with UA?).

    Also, would like to echo what others have said related to rail service…another train to Sac is useless. Fresno still needs an express train to Oakland…ideally arriving around/before 9am and departing after 8pm.

    1. Thanks for the info!

      The 2nd AA flight to DFW is really hard to keep up with. It seems to come and go all the time with no prior announcement. I didn’t realize it was even operating right now, since I associate it with December-January.

      What has Delta been using for SLC? I’ve never flown them from Fresno.

      1. AA’s redeye is actually the 3rd daily flight to DFW, there have always been 2 (well, at least since the mid-2000’s)

        DL uses a combination of CRJ-200s and CRJ-700s. They have slowly been upguaging since the beginning of the year, the E-175s appear to be the final plan.

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