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.

Onto the changes then:

Local Transit

Fresno Area Express (FAX)

As of May 7, face coverings are mandatory on all buses and at ticket offices.

Aside from that, FAX looks to have made it through without any service cuts. Good job!

 The previous changes, as of March 17, were:

  • Limit of 10 passengers per bus (exceptions possible on hourly route)
  • Onboard hand sanitizer dispensers
  • Handy Ride service ends at 9pm, unless request is made in advance
  • Enhanced cleaning of the buses

Clovis Stageline

No additional changes. Previous changes were:

  • Started Wednesday April 8, all service is free to decrease contact with the driver
  • Starting March 23, holiday schedule

Fresno County Rural Transit Agency

  • Limit of 10 passengers per bus

Bakersfield GET Bus

Face masks recommended, but not required, as of April 30. Previous changes were: 

  • Starting March 23, weekend schedule every day

Visalia Transit

Some seats blocked off as of April 23rd, but this was reversed on May 15. Previous changes were: 

  • As of April 8, no fares collected, board through back door on all routes, but regular service continues
  • Limit of 9 passengers per bus
  • Also in January, apparently they moved routes around but I don’t know enough about the system to tell you what changed

V-Line (Visalia to Fresno)

  • Full service, no fares collected

Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS)

A “modified Winter schedule” began on April 30. Summer schedule will begin when the park reopens.

  • Starting March 25, limited service between Merced and El Portal (Yosemite is closed).

VTA (San Jose)

Face coverings mandatory on the full system beginning May 4. Limited service remains. Previous changes were: 

  • Light rail service to return April 9 at 30 minute intervals, Monday to Friday, 6am to 6pm.
  • As of March 30, all light rail routes suspended
  • Except for one bus line, no service after 9pm
  • No fares to be collected

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

Face masks required as of April 22.

They have been providing ridership updates, which are interesting. On May 13th, ridership was still 93% lower than a typical day.

Not COVID related, but BART has a new system map, which was created because two new stations open this year. Previous changes were: 

  • Starting April 8, trains to run every 30 minutes on weekdays, every 20 minutes on Saturday, and every 24 minutes on Sunday. The odd schedule is because of the way the system is set up to allow for timed transfers
  • BART will take the opportunity to conduct additional tunnel maintenance
  • Starting March 23, Monday-Friday service from 5am-9pm (instead of 5am-midnight).
  • Starting March 28, Saturday and Sunday service from 8am-9pm (instead of 6am-midnight).

San Francisco MUNI

Starting Saturday, May 16, increased frequency on a number of lines in the existing COVID-19 Core system and the return of the 9R San Bruno Rapid. Seven lines running every 10 minutes or less.  Current system map available here (PDF). Face masks required, but not sure on the start date. Previous changes were: 

  • Starting April 8, only 17 bus routes to operate, and “late-night” Owl service starts at 10pm instead of 1am (see map below)
  • 7 bus routes eliminated on April 7
  • Starting March 30, all Muni Metro and light rail routes replaced by buses

Sacramento Regional Transit

They have announced that increased service will not resume until June 14. Masks are required at the Customer Service and Sales Center, but apparently not on board.

On April 13, SacRT added additional trips to five highly utilized bus routes and added shadow buses on other busy routes.

On April 1, they moved to rear-door boarding. Previous changes were: 

  • Starting March 23, Sunday schedule on all routes, plus some regular express routes

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART)

Facial covering required as of April 21, reduced service continues. Previous changes were: 

  • Starting April 6, weekday service reduced by 50%
  • Starting March 16, weekend service eliminated

Los Angeles Metro

Metro announced on May 14 a four-phase plan to increase service.

Phase 1 is projected to take place in June with some modest gains in service. Phase 4 is not expected until December.

As of April 19, buses run a mix of weekday and weekend schedules.

  • Starting March 23, trains run every 12 minutes during the day and every 20 at night
  • Starting March 22, rear-door boarding on all buses
  • Starting March 20, Metro Rail service ends at midnight
  • Bus service reduced by 15%-20%

Rail

Amtrak San Joaquin

Starting May 11, facial coverings required on Amtrak buses and trains. No additional changes.

  • Starting March 26, 3 daily trains to Sacramento suspended and replaced by bus connections
  • Cafe car closed
  • Indoor waiting areas at Hanford (HNF), Fresno (FNO), Merced (MCD), and Modesto (MOD) closed
  • Many modifications to thruway bus service

This leaves 4 daily trains in the Central Valley. Departing Bakersfield at 4:12am, 8:12am, 12:12pm, and 4:12pm. Departing Oakland at 7:36am, 9:36am, 1:36pm, and 5:36pm

Amtrak Capitol Corridor

Starting May 11, facial coverings required on Amtrak buses and trains. No additional changes.

  • Starting March 21, a reduction from 15 daily trains between Sacramento to Oakland to just 5. From Oakland to San Jose, a reduction from 7 to just 1 daily train. No service beyond Sacramento.
  • Cafe car closed
  • Many bus connection modifications, including the elimination of bus service to Monterey

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner

Starting May 11, facial coverings required on Amtrak buses and trains. No additional changes.

  • Starting March 19, only 6 trains a day between Los Angeles and San Diego – down from 14 daily.
  • Service north of Goleta suspended

Altamont Corridor Express (ACE)

No new changes.

  • Starting April 6, weekday service reduced to just two round trips
  • Starting March 23, weekday service reduced from 4 to 3 round trips
  • Saturday service suspended

Caltrain (San Jose to San Francisco)

Hillsdale station closed for HSR work, which has resulted in some modified schedules. No additional changes.

  • Starting March 30, 42 trains per day, rather than the usual 92
  • Normal weekend service

Metrolink (Los Angeles Area)

No additional changes.

Coaster (San Diego Region)

No additional changes.

  • As of March 23, weekend service eliminated and weekday service reduced from 11 to 6 round trips daily

Bus

Greyhound

Face coverings required starting May 13.

As I mentioned previously, Greyhound schedules have never been transparent. Their website pushes you to book a direct trip, and the timetables are hidden and horribly designed. That makes it hard to see what the changes are. The changes I reported on last month remain in force:

  • San Francisco/Oakland to Fresno is down again from 2 to just 1 a day.
  • Los Angeles to Fresno remains at 5 a day.
  • Fresno-Vegas bus is still gone.
  • The direct Fresno-Seattle bus is now gone. Instead of 12 hours, you can now do it in 24 with a transfer in Portland for $123.

Air

After reducing schedules last month, the airlines are holding steady for June.

Aeromexico

After going down to 3 weekly, Aeromexico ended service to Fresno entirely. For June, they will only be flying to LAX, Houston, JFK, Las Vegas, and Orlando in the US. No word on when Fresno will resume.

Alaska

For June, Alaska will continue to fly the previous schedule, which is just once a day to Seattle and San Diego.

  • April 8:
  • San Diego remains 1 daily
  • Seattle, from 2 daily to 1 daily
  • Portland eliminated
  • March 29:
  • San Diego, from 3 daily to 1 daily
  • Seattle, from 3 daily to 2 daily
  • Portland, from 2 daily to 1 daily

Allegiant

They flip-flopped between 6 a week and 3 a week, but now it looks to be back to 6 times a week for June, starting at $36 each way. For July, they’re showing every day, with two flights on weekends, but that will likely change. Previously, I said that:

  • They eliminated flights for two weeks, but are resuming 6 times weekly as of April 11. Why? The bailout package requires them to maintains service if they want $$$.

American Airlines

Dallas is now $295 for a one-way, which is slightly less insulting that $490. Same twice a day schedule.

Tuesdays are back to Phoenix, so you can fly there every day, once a day.

LA still gone from the schedule.

  • April 8:
  • Dallas back up to 2 daily on most days…for only $490, what a joke
  • Phoenix down to just 6 a week
  • Los Angeles service eliminated
  • March 29:
  • Dallas from 2/3 daily to 1 daily
  • Los Angeles, from 4 daily to 6 weekly (was 5 daily last year).
  • Phoenix, from 4 to 3 daily (was 5 daily last year)

Delta

Salt Lake City continues to hold steady at 2 daily. Note that it was 3 daily last summer, with plans for 4 daily this year.

Frontier

Denver is back to once a week, and not even on the same day! Sometimes Thursday, Friday, or Monday. July is showing twice a week, we will see.

Previously:

  • Denver went from 4 times a week, to eliminated, to 1 time a week for April between my last post and this one. For May, it is 2 times a week. This also looks like an attempt to access bailout cash by providing minimum service levels.

United

Denver remains at twice daily, but Los Angeles has been eliminated. That’s right, zero flights between Fresno and LAX!. San Francisco is a mixture of once or twice a day (1.6 average). Chicago still gone.

  • April 8:
  • Denver down to 2 daily
  • Los Angeles down to 1 daily
  • San Francisco down to 1 daily
  • March 29:
  • Daily flight to Chicago eliminated
  • Denver to 3 daily
  • Los Angeles to 2 daily
  • San Francisco from 3 daily to 2 daily (was 4 last year)

Volaris

Volaris comes back to Fresno on June 1st, once a day. In late June, they show twice a day on some days. FAT will be an international airport again!

Morelia comes back on June 5, three times a week.

Leon comes back on June 6, also three times a week.

Previously:

  • Most US flights and all Fresno service cancelled until May (Guadalajara, Morelia, Leon)
  • What’s interesting is that for March, they only saw a 10% decrease in demand, which explains why they waited so long to make changes

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