About a mile north of downtown Fresno, at the intersection of Blackstone and McKinley, a really exciting project is well underway: Fresno’s first transit-oriented apartment building. Aside from looking impressive in person, I think this is the first time in Fresno history that a real apartment building is being constructed outside the downtown core. And by “real,” I mean as one urban unit. There are apartments all over Fresno, but they tend to be two-story, 2 or 4 unit blocks built among an oasis of parking and grass. Those are perfectly fine, but they’re suburban in nature. This building will have four floors, which will make it twice as tall as 98% of Fresno buildings.
It has finally happened—Fresno has a protected bicycle lane! The new lane is located downtown, on R Street between Ventura Street and Tulare Street. The roadway previously did not have bicycle lanes, but had one lane in each direction, parking, and a central turn lane. The central turn lane was removed, the parking was moved out from the curb, and bicycle lanes were added between the curb and the parked cars. Additionally, regular bicycle lanes and sharrows were added between Tulare Street and Fresno Street, providing a link to Community Hospital.
I’m not quite sure why this was chosen as Fresno’s first protected bike lane. Many years ago, there were talks of protected lanes on Fulton and Van Ness, connecting Downtown and the Tower district. Those were never built. This lane is a bit out of the way, but that may be intentional, as no one is around to NIMBY it. Now that it is in place, the city can point to it as an existing product, instead of a hypothetical, when it comes to future implementation.
Starting today, August 3rd 2020, FAX Route 28 has been modified to no longer server Fresno State. Instead the line will now continue along Dakota and end at Peach Avenue. And no, the website has not been updated to reflect this.
This change to Route 28 was proposed earlier this year, along with changes to many other bus lines. However, the other proposed changes won’t happen until 2021. Unfortunately, this is a big loss to those taking the bus to Fresno State. While Route 9 will continue to serve Shaw Avenue, there will simply be half as many buses going to the campus.
The schedule itself is mostly the same. IE, the southbound buses hit the MTC at x:10, x:30, and x:50. However, the overall route is shorter, so the buses will start their trip 9 minutes later. To that end, I don’t understand why they couldn’t have made the route longer to use the same amount of time, such as going up Peach to Ashlan. The schedule can be found in the big booklet, which has a nice new cover photo featuring one of the new bus stops.
Like all travel providers, Amtrak has been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19, as the vast majority of people have cut down on their travel. However, unlike airlines that received huge sums of bailout money, Amtrak is less posed to get government assistance. That is because Republicans for years (decades?) have been trying to eliminate Amtrak, so they’re not rushing to save the organization now.
In the short term, Amtrak cut service in order to match reduced demand. For example the San Joaquin line cut three daily round trips on March 26th, and the Capitol Corridor went from 15 to just 5 trips a day. Other Amtrak lines, like the Downeastern (in Maine) and Keystone (in Pennsylvania) completely shut down for a couple of months.
Will Fresno finally get a protected bikeway, like in the San Francisco photo above? They’ve been talked about in the past, including a proposed couplet on Fulton and Van Ness that never came to be. But tomorrow there will be a public meeting on a new proposed bikeway along Palm and Belmont. See the flyer:
If you can’t attend, a survey is available online:
Make sure your voice is heard! There’s been almost zero progress on bike projects in Fresno over the last five years, so this could be a much-needed push.
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.
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:
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.
Last Thursday, the news came that former Fresno Bee reporter George Hostetter died of prostate cancer at age 70.
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.
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.