Category: Uncategorized

Transportation tidbits

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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Click to read more!

    We’ve moved to!

    Hopefully, you’ve noticed some minor changes to this website. Although minor is somewhat major considered I haven’t changed anything since I launched back in 2011.

    Basically, a year or so into doing this blog, I decided I should probably get a custom URL instead of . Unfortunately, someone already owned . They weren’t actually doing anything – it led to a page advertising the company that sold the URL – but they sat on it for YEARS. Every once in awhile I’d check, and sure enough, no changes to the ownership.

    Until this past January, when it became available to purchase!

    So now is mine, and leads here.

    My long standing plan was simply to own this URL and have it link back to the same old website. That is, I’d have a friendly URL to share, with no additional changes. But there were two issues:

    1. My gf kept telling me my website was super ugly
    2. The photobucket incident

    To the first point, I’ve always liked classic blog style. I like seeing posts in sequential order, so when I visit a blog I like, I always know what is new and what I missed. I detest the movement towards home pages that throw in 30 different posts. Sure, for a new visitor, that’s great because they see so much content up front. But for a frequent visitor, I think it’s a pain to see old posts and have to hunt for the new. And let’s be honest, this blog isn’t attracting thousands of new visitors a day, so I would rather cater to my usual readers.

    Why change anything at all? Well, last year, Photobucket changed their policy and ended free 3rd party hosting, making a lot of my old posts useless. That made me a bit worried about blogger. You see, Blogger is run by Google, who also loved to kill products. Indeed, before using Photobucket, I used Google-owned Picassa, which was actually built into Blogger. Well, they killed Picassa and replaced it with Google Photos, which doesn’t do 3rd party hosting (I’ve been using Flickr since then).  There are also dozens of other products they have killed off over the years. While Blogger seems too big to fail, Google hasn’t actually done anything with it in years, which is a red flag.

    In the effort to be safe rather than sorry, I decided to take this opportunity and move to a self-hosted WordPress website. That means it is completely on me if this website continues to exist, not on Google or anyone else.

    Anyway, while my girlfriend was hopeful this meant I would “spruce things up,” I have done my best effort to keep things looking the same, to the best of my ability.

    I don’t really know much about website design, so I’m just crossing my fingers that everything is working. So far, it appears that I have done everything right, and links both on this website and on external websites should point to the right place in most cases. Apparently any post with “a” in the title will be broken, so I have to manually fix those. But I even got the comments to migrate, so that’s great!

    Leave me a comment if things are working on your end. If they’re not, you can let me know at 

    Also, if there’s any change you would like to see, design-wise, now is the time to mention it! Again, I don’t code or anything, but if there’s a widget, I can handle installing that.

    Oh, there is one change I will be making: I do intend to categorize my posts and have a category menu. Stuff like transit, fulton mall, whatever. I need to spend some time on that though.

    Live bus arrival times now available in Fresno (FAX)!

    Paris got real-time bus tracking in 1996. In the United States, NextBus launched in Emeryville in 1999. In the Central Valley, tiny Visalia adopted the technology in 2011.

    And now in 2018, finally, Fresno’s bus system has real-time bus tracking!

    This is incredibly important because it makes riding the bus predictable. No more standing in the heat wondering if your bus is late…or if it came early and you missed it!

    As far as I can tell, they haven’t advertised this feature. No press release, nothing on the website. I didn’t even notice it myself, but it was pointed out to me by Joe in the comments. Thanks Joe!

    The new Q line, set to open on February 19, 2018, was advertised as having the tech, and fortunately, it appears that the entire system has been outfitted with it.

    Right now, the primary way to see the data is on Google Maps. You can check it out on both desktop and mobile. Let’s take a look!

    Zoom in to a bus stop and click the bus icon. Then click on any of the buses listed.


    It will then open up the bus lines that serve that stop, along with the times for the next buses.

    Times in green are live! Times in black are from the schedule.


    Compare with these other bus services that stop downtown. They’re all in black, so not live times.


    When you set it as part of your route, you will be informed of any delays. As an aside, 51 minutes in bus vs 15 in car. Hm, I wonder why bus ridership is down…


    On the phone the screens look a little different, but it’s the same concept to see all the bus times. Find the bus stop, click it, and then this opens up.


    You can then click the bus line you want and actually see where the bus currently is. This screen shows the scheduled time and the actual time.


    As an aside, note that many other transit agencies are available to help you plan your transit trips. However, not all have their real-time info coordinated with Google. For example, you can find real-time status of Amtrak trains on the Amtrak website (including a map showing current speed), but the times on Google are just the scheduled ones.


    Boltbus (and Greyhound) are available too, but the same issue – you have to go to their websites to see if they’re on time or not.


    Additionally, the Fresno website mentions a dedicated transit app. Well sadly, the app mentioned on the website is complete garbage. If there were smartphone apps in 1996, they’d probably look like this:



    This is insulting.


    HOWEVER, upon browsing the store, it appears that a second app was developed, which recently launched! The one with the higher rating is the newer one.


    Super confusing, right?

    Supposedly, this new app has modern features, including the real-time tracking info.

    Unfortunately, it greats you with this:


    No thanks.Why do I need to create an account to view the bus schedule? Ridiculous.

    The Google Play store does have a screen shot showing that the app supposedly looks like this:


    So more like 2010 instead of 1996.

    Just stick with Google Maps.

    Thoughts on proposed Clovis Trail Bridge

    I was not able to attend the meeting last week, but I did get a hold of the presentation. As a reminder:

    The City is interested in hearing from residents, business owners, special interest groups, and any other parties on the draft plan. The proposed project is intended to focus on the need, feasibility, and future development of a Class I trail/pedestrian bridge along the Enterprise Canal, extending south of Owens Mountain Parkway, and over State Route 168, which will serve to link the commercial, residential, Clovis Community Medical Center Complex, and business campuses in the immediate area.

    Before we look at the details, something important to note: Don’t expect this any time soon.


    Most likely, they will apply for funding under the Active Transportation Program.

    The Cycle 4 Call for Projects is expected to include about $440M in ATP funding made up of Federal funding and State SB1 and SHA funding.  The funding/programming years are expected to include 19/20, 20/21, 21/22 and 22/23 funding years. Click to read more!

    Clovis: Public Meeting on Proposed Trail Bridge 1/24/2018

    A bit late notice, but looks like Clovis is finally moving forward with plans on connecting the trails near Clovis Community Hospital, which are separated by CA-168.

    Date: Wednesday, January 24, 2018
    Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
    Location: Miss Winkles Pet Adoption Center
    85 N Temperance Ave, Clovis, CA 93611


    The City is interested in hearing from residents, business owners, special interest groups, and any
    other parties on the draft plan. The proposed project is intended to focus on the need, feasibility,
    and future development of a Class I trail/pedestrian bridge along the Enterprise Canal, extending
    south of Owens Mountain Parkway, and over State Route 168, which will serve to link the
    commercial, residential, Clovis Community Medical Center Complex, and business campuses in
    the immediate area. Click to read more!

    Is the Manchester Center Food Hall Really Coming?

    I love food halls, or em, an “artisan food community”. I’ve enjoyed them in Los Angeles, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. So naturally, I was excited when one was announced for Fresno back in September 2016. Especially because the location was to be inside the Manchester Center Mall.

    The plans include a new mall entrance, a redesigned facade with signage, a marketplace or “artisan food community” for chefs, food trucks and restaurants, an exterior shopping area and an outdoor events plaza.
    Fresno Bee

    At the time, it was supposed to be ready “a long way off, probably opening in late spring of 2017, Bagunu says, though construction has started.”

    In January 2017, this was the update:

    Inside the mall, renovations are going hot and heavy in the former Gottschalks store, though you wouldn’t know it because windows covered in black plastic hide the mess. It’s the beginning stages of what the mall calls a marketplace – essentially a fancy food court. Click to read more!

    A Final Look at Construction on Fresno’s New Fake BRT Line “Q”

    Fresno’s new fake “BRT” (bus rapid transit) line, branded as “Q” is set to open Fall of 2017. Well, that’s what the website says.

    Key Dates
    Construction Kickoff: June 2016
    Construction: 2016-2017
    Testing: 2017
    Launch: Fall 2017

    In reality, the bus line was delayed yet again to February or March of this year (originally, it was expected way back in 2012).

    And this time they really mean it, so they’re hosting public meetings to educate people on what the bus line is. The first one is this week:

    Shaw & Blackstone Corridor
    January 17, 2018 | 5:30 pm–7:00 pm
    5080 N Blackstone Ave
    Fresno, CA 93710 

    Quick aside: This is a complete failure of public outreach and engagement. Asking people to come to YOU, on a certain date, at a certain time is public outreach in name only. FAX knows where the customers are (on the bus and at the stations). FAX should come to the people. Nobody is going to take time and money out of their day to go to a random location to hear some official talk about a kiosk. Worse: The three meetings are in the same time period (5:30pm-7pm) so anyone who works during those hours is out of luck.

    Depressing. I recently read about a city which launched a new bus service and advertised it by mailing info to every house within 1/4 mile of the route. That’s outreach.

    Also, at some point they should maybe tell the public how this will affect the two existing bus lines that currently run on Blackstone and Kings Canyon. I’ve yet to see any information about that.

    Anyway, let’s take a look at the construction shortly before the new line opens. This post looks at a regular stop in Blackstone, the Manchester Transfer Center, and the Van Ness stop by the Courthouse Transfer Station.

    Previous updates:
    September 2017
    January 2017

    We start at a random bus stop on Blackstone and Clinton. This location previously had a regular bus stop, shelter, and bench.

    Like all the Q bus stops, the sidewalk was pushed out into the roadway. This is because the stations require extra space, and because it means the bus doesn’t have to pull out of traffic. Pulling out slows the bus because drivers don’t let the bus merge back in.

    Oddly enough, this stop already had a shelter and bench, so the sidewalk was already wider. They actually REMOVED sidewalk in this process….why?

    You can see the sidewalk to the left is all even, rather than extending back a bit towards the store. This actually causes the “newly widened” sidewalk to have a narrow pinch point. Couldn’t those electrical boxes be kept in the back?


    On the other end, the sidewalk extension doesn’t go all the way to the corner. Why?


    Here’s looking north.


    And with a bus that didn’t stop.


    Some people have worried that extending the stop out has made the lane too narrow. Nope. Look at the blue car in relation to the width of the lane. The sidewalk could have been extended another 5 feet or more.


    The stops have bicycle racks.


    Garbage cans.


    A semi-transparent roof. I don’t know what’s up there.


    This stop was not fortunate enough to get seating with back support.The stop previously had two benches, so this is actually a downgrade.


    There are now ticket machines.



    They take credit cards


    Everything is in English and Spanish.

    ….except the “language” button. Really. Oddly, “Cards” is in white text in English, while all the other English is in black text.


    The map is still locked away


    The (unnecessarily large) electrical box is to support the kiosk and also a time estimate, although I didn’t notice a screen.


    And one last look.


    Now we move to the Manchester Center Transfer Center. This place closed a year ago. When I visited in August, I was shocked at how little progress had been made at what is the busiest bus stop in Fresno.

    Four months later, it’s not looking much better.


    A year of construction and they couldn’t even level the place.



    For reference, this is what the old shelters looked like




    A lot of FAX buses will stop here. The stop at the end is for Q.


    Very similar to the previous stop we looked at.


    The ticket kiosk and map.


    But two benches, one with back support, one without.


    This trash can is open for business.


    There are bike racks, but they were installed incorrectly. They should be rotated 90 degrees, or else you can only lock 4 bikes rather than 6.


    Note the location of the push button. This is a good installation. The location we’ll look at downtown was installed badly.


    The Blackstone crosswalk. This was built brand new in 2016…and then never opened. They ripped it all up and built it again. Your Fresno money at work. (Although the newer design is much better). However, the push button is not well located.


    (The pedestrian crossing is functional, I pushed the button and it quickly changed)




    From the parking lot.


    And now we go downtown to the Courthouse Transfer Center on Van Ness.

    Q will stop at island platform, the other routes along the courthouse park like always.


    Same design here as the other stops.



    Except this one has a longer roof than the random stop on Blackstone. Only one bench though.


    Other direction



    New crosswalks built to the islands at a new signal. Remember earlier how I called out the push button? These are badly installed because they are relatively out of the way.



    One thing they did do well is install the vehicle detection. See the circle and lines in the pavement? That’s how the traffic signal knows a bus is waiting. A bus can stop behind the white line, load, and then when ready to cross, move forward to trigger the traffic signal. (As long as the drivers are told to do this).


    The angle of the red/green arrows is a novelty in Fresno. But the signal on the far left is a waste of money.


    The other shelters in the transfer center were updated. I think the design is pretty cool, but I love Art Deco.



    For reference this is what the old ones looked like. They were horrendously ugly, but they provided a lot more cover.

    Is it too much to ask for the shelters to be both attractive and large?


    That’s it for the Fresno FAX Q update!

    Service is supposed to start soon, and hopefully it improved the lives of those using the bus system to get around. Faster boarding will speed up trips, and buses every 10 minutes (during peak hours) will be well used.

    Shame it took a decade to built what many other cities call “standard bus service.”

    My next post will be a look at construction inside the Manchester Center Mall. The new food hall was supposed to open this winter, will it? (Hint: No).

    New Google satellite imagery for Fresno! (Fall 2017)

    Posting updates about Google Maps satellite imagery in the Fresno region used to be a frequent topic on this blog. Thanks to the lack of clouds for half the year, Fresno was lucky in that new images were posted about twice a year, compared to some more populated area that only got an update every other year – or even less frequently. Basically, to provide the images, a satellite has to take hundreds of pictures, and then they are all blended together automatically to reveal a seamless image without clouds in the way. Since Fresno has so many clear days, it’s much easier to get the shots.=&0=&(it takes them a couple of months to process and update – that’s normal). There was also an update taken on =&1=&, which I noticed around July, but never got around to posting about.=&2=&

    Fresno is getting direct air service to Chicago!

    I’ve always though the next domestic airline destination from Fresno would be to Houston, via United, but today we get a surprise: it will be Chicago….with United! 

    United Airlines in 2018 continues its domestic routes expansion, as the airline opened reservation for a total of 12 routes in 2018. Following routes opened for booking since Friday night (Pacific Time) 17NOV17.
    Chicago O’Hare – El Paso eff 09APR18 2 daily Embraer E170 (Republic Airlines)
    Chicago O’Hare – Fresno eff 07JUN18 1 daily Embraer E175 (Skywest)
    Denver – Jacksonville FL eff 09APR18 1 daily Embraer E175 (Skywest)
    Denver – Liberal eff 06FEB18 6 weekly CRJ200 (Skywest)
    Denver – North Platte eff 01FEB18 2 daily CRJ200 (Skywest; weekends frequency varies)
    Denver – Pueblo – Liberal eff 06FEB18 6 weekly CRJ200 (Skywest)
    Denver – Scottsbluff eff 30JAN18 2 daily CRJ200 by Skywest (weekends frequency varies)
    Los Angeles – Kalispell eff 07JUN18 1 daily CRJ200 (Skywest)
    Los Angeles – Medford eff 09APR18 2 daily CRJ200 (Skywest)
    Los Angeles – Missoula eff 07JUN18 1 daily CRJ200 (Skywest)
    Los Angeles – Redmond eff 09APR18 1 daily CRJ200 (Skywest)
    Newark – Elmira eff 09APR18 2 daily ERJ145 (Commutair) Click to read more!

    Major delays in new trains means no new 8th daily San Joaquin for now

    Amtrak California was supposed to be welcoming a whole new fleet of bi-level trains this year. or last year. Who knows. They were funded way back in 2010 as part of stimulus package. You know, the package intended to create jobs fast with shovel-ready jobs.

    The current two level trains and low floor platforms

    Well something odd happened with that contract. The winning bidder (Nippon-Sharyo) couldn’t deliver. Here’s an article from April 2016.

    A Japanese company hired to build new passenger railcars for regional Amtrak service has fallen years behind schedule and likely won’t complete the order before federal funding expires.

    The stalled production undermines an ambitious plan to upgrade Amtrak service in California, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri and has highlighted the complexities foreign companies face in complying with made-in-the-U.S. requirements. Funding for about three-quarters of the 130-car order is tied to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

    After repeated failures, engineers are now redesigning the car’s body shell. That and additional testing will take about two more years to complete, according to people familiar with the matter. The entire job was to be finished in 2018, with the stimulus-funded portion due for completion in 2017. Now, Nippon Sharyo isn’t expected to start production until 2018, people familiar with the work say. Click to read more!