Tag: downtown fresno

Fresno night bus service expands to Saturdays

Two and a half years ago, Fresno Area Express (FAX) created a “night bus” network by extending bus service past 9pm on the five busiest bus routes. This new service came with a major asterisk:

  • Only Monday to Friday
  • 1 hour wait between buses after 9pm
  • Only 5 routes offering “night” service 
  • ….and only on select portions of those 5 routes

Starting November 16, at least one of those issues will be improved: service will be extended to include Saturday nights as well.

The bus routes affected include routes 1, 9, 28, 32, and 38, which are the same routes that saw a previous service expansion. Handy Ride, the on-demand paratransit service, will also follow the new extended hours.

Current weekend service in Fresno is abysmal, with even the “BRT” route (Route 1) starting the final runs around 6pm. This reality stands in contrast to the claims that Fresno government is invested in revitalizing downtown and attracting night life. Unfortunately, this news may have come too late for the Fresno Foxes. Click to read more!

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.

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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.

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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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This is insulting.

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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.

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Super confusing, right?

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

Unfortunately, it greats you with this:

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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:

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So more like 2010 instead of 1996.

Just stick with Google Maps.

Fresno Fulton Mall / Street September 2017 Construction Photo Tour

This is a comprehensive look at the Fulton Mall (future Fulton Street) in Fresno, 2 months before construction is scheduled to end. Fresno is spending around $20 million to eliminate a pedestrian mall and re-open it to vehicles and vehicular parking. The intention behind it is to bring economic vitality to the corridor.=&0=&

Aerial Shots of California High Speed Rail Construction Released!

The California High Speed Rail Authority have recently posted aerial shots of the various construction sites that are well underway in the California Central Valley, primarily around Fresno. They tend to post updates on their official Flickr account once or twice a month, but most are taken at ground level. Since the Google Earth satellite images are unfortunately over 2-year old at this point, these new photos, taken last week, provide a unique vantage point. Seeing the action from above, you can really understand the scale of the various bridges, and make sense of how they fit in.

The Cedar Viaduct is probably the most important construction area right now because of the impact it will have. The bridge will take trains over CA-99, which sees around 95,000 vehicles passing by every day. Many people are still unaware that HSR is actually happening, so seeing the bridge take shape will have a large impact.

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All photos courtesy of the CA HSR Authority

In downtown Fresno, they’re finally finishing the new Toulumne Street bridge. This bridge will carry cars, bicycles and pedestrians over the right of way. The Stanislaus Street bridge, seen above it, will be demolished because it is not tall enough.

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A bit north, they’re tunneling under CA-180 to let the trains go through. The trains will go under the highway, under the freight line, and under the canal.

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They’ve also rebuilt CA-99 to create a new right-of-way for the rail line.

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Another hugely impact project, in terms of visibility, will be where the rail line crosses over the Union Pacific tracks and then over the San Joaquin River – all right next to busy CA-99. This will be extremely visible to passing motorists.

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The wet winter means the bridge over the river has been stalled since December.

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Rural drivers will go over the rail line in a new overpass, in Madera.

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A bridge almost done over a creek.

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And the very first active construction site, a bridge over the Fresno River, is wrapping up.

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Wrapping up? Yes, the first construction package was for the heavy stuff in the Fresno area – bridges, tunnels, and viaducts. The train stuff – tracks and wires – are part of another construction package that hasn’t been handed out. The idea is to have the full right of way cleared, prepped, and ready to go, and then the last crew comes in and places the rail quickly and uniformly. 

Once again, check out the photos in the official Flickr account and keep them bookmarked because new photos get uploaded at least every month, and usually more frequently.

A quick update on downtown Fresno cconstruction projects

It’s been a few months since I’ve been able to post photos of what has been changing in downtown Fresno. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to explore the area and take photos, so I present to you a different type of update. Here are some photos I took in May, along with a look at what those projects look like this week, with photos sourced from friendly people around the web. It’s amazing how much (and how little!) can change in 3 months.=&0=&=&1=& When I last visited this project, it looked like this:=&2=&=&3=&

Google Maps Launches Areas of Interest – How Accurate is it in Fresno?

A week or so ago, Google refreshed their maps service. Most of the changes were minor – new road outlines, a different typography, and a few other minor tweaks designed to make the maps easier to understand. However, as part of that update, they introduced what could be a major new feature: areas of interest. =&0=&: Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. With only 7,855 people, it is the smallest capital in the country. At a glance, the areas of interest seem to work quite well. The new shading does draw you in quickly.=&1=&

A quick look at the reconstruction of the Tuolumne bridge for HSR

One of the most obvious signs of High Speed’s Rail’s (HSR) coming arrival to downtown Fresno has been the demolition – and now reconstruction – of the Tuolumne street bridge. The bridge was two lanes wide and carried traffic eastbound over the Union Pacific right of way. It was paired with the Stanislaus Street bridge which carries two lanes westbound.  

Both bridges will be demolished and replaced by a single bridge carrying traffic in both directions. The bridge will feature wider sidewalks as well. The reason is that aside from being 50 years old (or more?), the current structure of the bridge does not allow enough room for the new High Speed Rail tracks to fit. Once the new bridge is in place, and the Stanislaus Street bridge has been demolished, more serious work can be done downtown to create the new tracks and station.

Meanwhile, other construction is underway just north of downtown, as they have begun to build a trench. However, I was unable to get any good pictures. The construction area is surrounded by private property or the highway. 

Let’s take a look at the work on the bridge. I will begin with pictures I took back in January to see what it looked like a few days before closing forever. Below them are the pictures I took two weeks ago showing the current progress.

Here is the bridge back in January, taken from the sister bridge.

Frankly I don’t understand  why so much space has been wasted for 100 years.

 The bridge itself

 Not the best of sidewalk conditions.

I’m sure the structure itself was on its way out.

 Coming back you see the official sidewalk path – not ADA

The old pedestrian path also didn’t inspire much confidence in safety.  

 Frankly, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable parking here.

But these folks did.

There she is.

Wasn’t surprised to see this.

Looking towards Fulton.

That was January!

Now let us look at some recent pictures, starting from the other bridge again:



As an aside, here we are on the same bridge looking north.  No other construction is visible.

  

 I don’t know if this bridge will also be rebuilt (max zoom!) 

Oddly, they removed the traffic signal head but kept the signal functioning. What was the point, huge waste of time. Should be blinking red.

Bridge used to touch down here.

A new view of these lofts. I don’t know if they’re losing their parking lot?

Now from H street.

The other bridge.

The new supports.

H is blocked off for construction.

I hope the new bridge has good lighting underneath, especially because it will be much wider.

 And now walking back.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures! 

An overhead look at downtown Fresno before high speed rail changes everything

About a month ago, I went out and took hundreds of pictures around downtown Fresno. The intention was to post them quickly, but that obviously didn’t happen. My post about the changes at Fresno State took a few days to put together, and then I was away from the internet for a week due to a planned surgery.

This set of pictures was originally intended to show the current state of High Speed Rail (HSR) construction in Fresno. However, a lot has happened in a month, so they’re no longer current in regards to construction activity on the project itself. Instead, they will serve as a benchmark of what downtown Fresno looked like right before serious construction started in earnest, and before private investors started taking note of the prime empty lots.

I believe that HSR is going to absolutely transform downtown Fresno. Office towers that have sat empty for years will become hot amenities. Empty lots that have lain fallow since a fire 50 years ago will be quickly scooped up. Sidewalks that are empty past 5pm will be bustling when trains start unloading passengers.

Here are where things stand now.

We begin our journey from above. I’ll follow up shortly with photos showing the view from the ground.

Pictures were taken from the Pacific Southwest Tower, access thanks to Craig Scharton’s tour. First photo was taken in the direction of the red arrow, with the following pictures moving in a clockwise order, as shown by the orange arrow.

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This will be ground zero of high speed rail. The building with the yellow triangle features is the Southern Pacific Depot. The old train station, built in 1889, it is the oldest commercial building in the city. Today, it serves as office space. Amtrak runs on a different rail line and does not stop there. However, the new High Speed Rail station will be built directly behind and above it. The structure will be preserved of course.

The less attractive building in front of it was the Greyhound station. Greyhound recently left the station and moved to the current Amtrak Station. I’ll do a separate photo post about it. That building will remain standing for a couple of years for HSR related work, and then be demolished for the new station. 

Pulling back a wee bit…

Moving to the right, clockwise, we see an existing roadway underpass that’s set to be expanded to accommodate HSR. That dark blue building on the corner, in front of the Bank of America, was a very large adult store (Wildcat Adult Superstore) and has since been demolished. It had to come down due to a change in alignment of the roadway to accommodate the new underpass. Across the street, the Cosmopolitan Tavern will be demolished once their new location opens by the Convention Center. They made a deal where they bought a portion of a city owned surface parking lot to erect a new structure.I would guess the big white building closest to the tracks will also go away.

Moving the camera to the right, we see the enormous potential. Giant empty surface parking lots will make way for new offices and residential towers that want to be near the station. That pinkish building on the right is Hotel Fresno, an asset that has seen a series of failed renovation efforts. Once the station feels real to investors, watch that old hotel bloom.

Zooming in a bit (Hotel Fresno isn’t in great shape), we see the two roadway bridges over the existing rail properties. One of them is now completely gone, and I’ll have photos of that in the ground update post.

Moving to the right again, we see the Fulton Mall. If you’re familiar with Fresno, you know that this pedestrian mall is about to be ripped up and turned into a street in the name of urban revitalization. I am fully confident that those efforts will fail in returning the corridor to a shopping oasis. However, once the station opens, the corridor will be bustling. A shame that green canopy will be almost entirely obliterated.

Moving right again…

 Continuing right, we can see how far Fresno has sprawled to the horizon.

And now we’re facing the opposite direction of the rail station. The centerpiece here is the courthouse, with its park. High Speed Rail won’t bring much change to this government dominated landscape, except in adding happy pedestrians. Community Regional Medical Center are the two large buildings further back. They currently have a UCSF branch, and I can see that expanding with improved connections to SF.

Moving on, we see a more modern side of downtown Fresno, sort of. That tall building in the back is the Federal Courthouse, supposedly the tallest building in the city, I guess depending on what you measure. Built in 2005 it’s the city’s only modern tower. It’s also very attractive. The Amtrak station sits right behind it. That section of town, with the modern City Hall and the new First 5 building has a cluster of modern development. All government, but attractive. HSR won’t really make a dent over there.

I’ll have a photo update of the completed First 5 building coming up, along with a look at how Greyhound fits into the Amtrak station. Also near Amtrak is a new project which renovated and expanded an old warehouse into modern offices. 

As we keep turning, we see another lot just prime for some great development.

Now we’re back at the Fulton Mall, and Chukchansi Park, a failed effort to spark redevelopment downtown. Sure, it’s a nice stadium (and hosted the New York Cosmos in a friendly exhibition game tonight), but since it opened in 2002 it hasn’t generated much interest in the area. Supposedly that is going to change soon, but I think the HSR winds are the real reason. Let’s check back in a year to see if that proposal goes anywhere.

Behind the baseball stadium, we see the industrial side of town. There have been many plans for this area, including trying to bring in Bass Pro Shops. That obviously never happened. Lots of potential though. The South Stadium dream:

The reality:

And now we’re back to where we started. See that white mound thing in that dirt lot across the railroad tracks? The Central Fish Company is located right behind it, an interesting business that’s a mixture of a seafood counter, Asian supermarket, and lunch spot. I suggest checking it out if you haven’t. It’s part of Chinatown, an area that has a cute street grid which reminds me a lot of Old Town Clovis – but with a lot more empty buildings. That whole part of Fresno has been neglected for decades, as it sits on the “wrong” side of the tracks.

That is all for our look from above. I hope to upload pictures from the ground in the near future as well, which show the city before HSR.

They will focus on:

  • Old train station and Greyhound (future HSR station)
  • View from Chinatown
  • View from above the railroad track

Two new public electric vehicle charging stations open in Fresno

Two months ago, I decided to look back at the state of public electric charging infrastructure for electric cars in Fresno. Sadly, the situation was still very dire.

Fortunately, there has been some news on that front. Chargers have arrived at Fresno State and Downtown:

Fresno State is planning to give electric car drivers more
options to “charge up” under plans announced Friday to build a six-stall
charging station on campus.

University officials say the station
located west of Save Mart Center will have two quick-charge pumps — a
car’s battery could recharge in 20 to 30 minutes — plus four more for
longer charges. It’s being paid for through a $397,000 grant from the
California Energy Commission.

The university’s station is scheduled to open in September 2015.
Electric car drivers can currently power up at just a few public
locations, including the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control
District office, Schneider Electric, and Lithia Nissan on Blackstone
Avenue.
Fresno Bee Click to read more!