Tag: changes

FAX considering changes to several bus routes

For the first time in forever, Fresno Area Express (FAX) is seriously considering some pretty major changes to bus routes. This could include the much-needed Herndon route, and a bus line to the new Amazon and Ulta warehouses built in southwest Fresno. However, the new service comes at the expense of existing lines. In this post, I take a look at how FAX is getting the word out, and what those changes are.

Public Outreach

FAX has started holding public events and workshops on the proposed changed. This looks to be an extensive outreach effort, with the following pop-up events at bus stops throughout the system: Click to read more!

A further look at FAX route changes

Last week I talked about how FAX is proposing route changes. Still no info on a timeline, public comment etc, but here are some maps showing the rest of the existing routes and the proposed changes. While mapping out these changes, it really hit me how incompetent the FAX routes are at serving destinations and balancing the routes.

The FAX route system seems to have been designed in the 1950’s, and yet here we are, with proposals that do nothing to address some of the major failings.

In the last post, I highlighted the changes coming to routes 26 and 39, which would switch off on areas covered. I noted that these changes would probably help balance operations, but not necessarily help out riders. The changes would not include an increase or decrease in area served, time of service of frequency.

This post will discuss proposed changes coming to lines 28, 30, 32, and 58. Here are the lines and their current ridership numbers:
28 – 1st (yellow)
30 – 3rd (pink)
32 – 6th (purple)
58 – dead last (not mapped)

Here are the areas these routes serve (not including 58 which is a special route)

Like with 26 and 39, routes 28 and 30 will see a switch-off between routes.

In my opinion, the changes to 30 make sense, but to 28, not so much. You see, Fresno is planning a BRT (bus rapid transit)* system that was supposed to launch in 2012 but has been delayed to 2014.

*It will be BRT in branding only, as the proposal is not in any shape or form real bus rapid transit.

It seems like the changes to 28 and 30 are a direct result of the proposed BRT system. The proposed BRT line will serve Blackstone, go downtown, and then head out on Kings Canyon.

The changes will mean route 30 will now almost fully cover the proposed BRT route. This is a good thing for a couple of reasons.

1) One route will cover both of the busiest bus corridors, allowing for good transfers, and better operations, and will better justify improved headways and longer hours.
2) Will allow for more prudent deployment of the new 60-foot articulated buses scheduled to arrive later this year. (PS: dear Fresno Bee, some reporting on that would be nice. Why must I read bid notices to find news about FAX…?)
3) Will result in a seamless transition to BRT (BRT = look, the buses are now a new color!)

A big downside is that the added length may mean service problems like bunching. A problem (like an accident) on Blackstone may delay service on Kings Canyon, and many riders have no interest in riding the length of the route.

Here is what route 30 is proposed to do.


The only difference between the new 30 and the future BRT is that the planned BRT will extend an additional mile to Fowler Ave, at the proposed “Fancher Creek Transit Village”. (mmhmm)


What this means is that 28 will take over the section of route that 30 abandons. This isn’t necessarily a great thing. 28 is a busy route because it serves Shaw with Fresno State, hits Fashion Fair Mall, heads down to Manchester Mall, serves Fresno City and then hits downtown. The area that 30 is vacating is not really relevant to any busy route. It’s an underdeveloped area that deserves transit, but not the kind of service that that rest of the route requires.

I’m talking about the area west of downtown, in red.


The reason is, the demand for rides is simply not the same. Look at the Shaw section. University, dense apartments, the major mall…


Versus a streetcar suburb that never quite developed, and a small general aviation airport.


The area should be served, but with it’s own route, not some haphazard branch of one of the cities busiest and most frequent bus lines.

Or looking at it on ground level…

The same bus gets to serve both of these bustling roads.


That’s just not right.


That leaves the changes to routes 32 and 59, which are really quite minor.

The only change to route 32 is in the River Park area, where the loop it does reverses in direction.

From this
To this

The good part is that three left turns become three right turns. Due to right turn on red being allowed, this should speed things up. For customers, it may make things worse if it means they have to cross the street to transfer, but I don’t know enough about transfer patterns at River Park to say if the change is good or bad.

You know what the best solution would be? Eliminate the 2 mile loop and build a small transfer center/loop for all buses, like at Manchester.

Meanwhile, the route sees no changes at its southern end, again, another area where having one bus serve two very different service areas makes no sense.

The northern loop area has every chain possible, hospitals, apartments etc.


The southern loop? What appears to be another failed streetcar suburb.


This is where change is needed.

Why are we serving this area (see the bus stop sign?)

With the same level of service this area gets?

Finally, route 58, a route that doesn’t really matter. A decade or so ago, Children’s Hospital packed up and moved across the river into Madera county, a completely isolated and inaccessible area….unless you own a car and want to drive on a highway. As part of some mitigation deal (worst air in the country, remember) Children’s has to pay for FAX to provide a bus to their hospital during visiting hours (employees must drive I guess).

The only change here is that the bus will now make an unnecessary loop around River Park, instead of proceeding directly to the transfer point.



I doubt any of the 5 riders will care about that change.

If FAX releases more info about a timeline, public outreach etc, I will be sure to write a post about it.

FAX making changes to major bus routes

FAX = Fresno Area Express, Fresno’s bus system which also (just barely) serves Clovis and Fowler, and county islands.

A small ad in the paper the other day (yes, an ad, not a news story) mentioned that changes were coming to Fresno’s bus routes. The small ad only said that routes 26, 28, 30, 32, 39, and 58 would undergo changes, and one could read about said changes online. This got my interest because that included the busiest bus routes in the system.

What could it be? Were they finally going to expand service, after over a decade of contraction? Would they begin serving areas that had grown greatly over the past 20 years, but were ignored by a route map that looks like it was designed in the 60s? Would they close gaps? Would they completely shift routes to serve origin-destination pairs that riders want?

Well, no.

Big changes are coming, but the changes mean switching around which bus route gets to serve which street. The service area appears to remain exactly the same.

IE: if Route 1 serves Main and Broadway, and Route 2 serves Peach and Cherry, the change would mean Route 1 would serve Main and Cherry, and Route 2 would get Peach and Broadway.

In other words, these changes appear solely to achieve operational goals, and not passenger goals.

Thats not a bad thing, because improving operations does benefit the passenger if it makes service more reliable.

But are major changes to long-established lines worth the effort? Especially important is that fact that the ad directed people online, and many of FAX riders may not have internet access, may not be proficient with computers, or may not speak English.

What’s also curious is that the changes are listed as “proposed” but absolutely no info is given as to the process to get these changes passed. Will there be public hearings? Rider feedback? …..anything?

Here is the wealth of information provided on the website

FAX proposes route adjustments for 2012. To see a map of the proposed enhancements, click on the specific route number below:


I’ve talked about the badly designed FAX website before, but this takes the lack of information and public accountability to a new level.

Anyway, on to the changes.

The Fresno bus system is still designed with downtown as a hub, which makes sense historically, but not today. Because of the way the city grew, downtown is in a corner, with all growth being to the north and east. It is not centrally located, except if you are on a freeway, but FAX buses do not use the freeways*.

*The Children’s Hospital Express does, but that’s a special hospital funded service.

While downtown is a hub, buses don’t actually terminate there. Most lines go out of their way to hit the downtown transit center (aka, a plaza) before heading out in another direction.

This is an odd situation, because while downtown is still a jobs destination (40,000 jobs), it doesn’t match ridership needs.

Someone going from the north to the west has no interest in a downtown detour, but has to deal with it anyway. And “nobody” is going from north fresno to southwest Fresno, but a bus serves that route. In reality, theres probably a 99% turnover downtown, and it’s essentially one number serving two distinct routes.

Line 26 is an excellent example of the absurdity, especially because it serves the airport….and well, everything else. It is currently the 4th busiest bus route in the system. Service begins at around 6am, and there is service every 30 minutes until 6:30pm, at which point it becomes hourly until 9:30pm. Yes, it’s pretty sad.

Here you can see downtown Fresno in the bottom left, the area inside the three freeways.

The line serves the wealthy and popular River Park shopping center (aka, every chain ever), shifts to move down Palm, making sure to pass by the Wal-Mart supercenter, then continues on Palm, a street lined with medical officers, expensive restaurants and car dealerships (even the regions only Whole Foods!), goes south of Shaw where it hits the tower district, serves downtown and the transit center, and turns east along Butler, a very low income area with many abandoned businesses.

But thats not all! It hits Fresno Pacific University, turns up to Kings Canyon to hit another Wal-Mart Supercenter (and a Winco) before heading up Peach avenue pretty much to serve the airport.


In other words, if you were coming to Fresno, and only had an hour, and wanted to hit all the “sites” than this is the bus for you! From BMW dealerships, to extreme poverty, a christian university, the “trendy” areas downtown and not one, but two wal-marts, you get to explore most of what Fresno offers and get deposited at the airport on your way out.

But aside from social commentary, does it offer much to the rider? It probably does a good job at getting people from south Fresno to jobs at the airport and downtown. It does a decent job of serving the busy Palm Avenue corridor. It manages to link the Tower with downtown. The question is, should one bus route be doing this all?

Probably not.

And FAX is planning to change that….but maybe even not for the better.

Here is the proposed route change. In the north, the change is minor. Currently, River Park has a mini-transit center, which many northern routes try to hit. The problem is, this “center” is spread out, and not fully convenient to bus movement. So it looks like 26 will no longer serve the stop inside River Park, but stay on Blackstone. While this will require longer walks for some, the time savings should more than make up for it. Forcing a bus to make multiple left turns in a busy shopping area is not very effective.

The big change is in the south. No more bus service to the airport. Instead, the bus line will loop around the IRS/Wal-Mart/Winco area. This area serves lots of people, yes, but it leaves airport employees (and the few airport passengers) out in the cold.

The shorter route may allow for improved headways, but passengers going to the airport will now be forced to make a transfer, possibly adding an hour to their trip.


Meanwhile, route 39, the other route serving the airport, takes over the Peach portion of 26, meaning one line will handle airport duty from both directions. In reality, it means an added transfer for those in South Fresno. Oddly enough, the jog to the Manchester Transit Center gets eliminated, making said transfers more difficult. So now only one bus will serve the airport, but it will be probably the only bus line in the system to not hit a major transfer point.

One thing the diagram does not make clear is how the airport is served. Currently, the two bus routes enter the airport, and pickup/drop off directly across from arrivals. I can’t tell if the curbside service will be limited to north/west trips only, leaving a long walk for west/south passengers.

Fortunately, route 39 comes at the same frequency of 26, providing service from 5:30am to 6:20pm every 30 minutes, and then hourly until 9:20pm on weekdays. Lets pretend weekends don’t exist, because FAX sure does.


I will talk about the other bus routes this weekend, as this post has taken longer than I thought it would to prepare. I will include comparisons to the existing routes and so forth.

You can see the proposed maps here (PDFs):

26 -See above
28 –Major changes to the systems busiest bus route
30 –If changes go through, will become by far the systems busiest route.
32 –Minor change
39 –See above
58 –I think this map is actually wrong…