Tag: fresno area express

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! 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
Tornino’s
5080 N Blackstone Ave
Fresno, CA 93710  Click to read more!

Fresno’s new night bus service comes with some big asterisks

Fresno’s bus system (FAX) recently launched “night” service on May 1st. When I wrote about this news, details were quite sparse. Indeed, the FAX website didn’t update with the new schedules until the first day of the extended service. Unfortunately, some of those details have been disappointing.

Here are the issues which really only became clear AFTER service launched.

  • Only Monday to Friday
  • 1 hour wait between buses after 6pm 
  • Only 5 routes offering “night” service 
  • ….and only on select portions of those 5 routes

What is night service? 

The reason I am putting quotation marks around “night” is because in most cities, the announcement of night service tends to mean buses running at 2am, 3am or 4am. In Fresno, “night” means new service between 9pm and midnight. Critically important, yes, but a reflection of how poor service used to be. 

Only Monday to Friday 

I had guessed the first point, based off the newsletter announcement, so it wasn’t as much of a surprise. However, it is still ridiculous that bus service on Saturdays, across all of Fresno, ends at around 7pm. To be fair, service was not reduced on weekends, so there has not been a decline in service. That being said, the new “night” service highlights how poor weekend service is. That is something that should be addressed.

Long headways 

Another concern is that nothing pre-launch talked about frequencies at all. Earlier this year, FAX launched “FAX-15,” or buses running every 15 minutes (vs every 20 or 30) on select lines. However, that service level ends early, before 7pm. On route 38 for example, one of the busiest lines in the system, buses arrive every 15 minutes from start of service (6:15am) until 7pm. Then there is a 35 minute wait, followed by a 57 minute wait, and the last 4 runs are an hour apart. Line 30, the busiest route, and the future fake BRT line, is actually less impressive. 6am – 5:30pm – every 15 minutes Then 20 minutes, then 35 for 3 runs, then 45 minutes, and finally once an hour from 9pm to midnight.

It’s also important to note that FAX STILL lacks a bus tracker. So an uneven schedule is even worse for riders, since you can’t memorize the times.

Limited routes 

The biggest asterisk came with the reveal of the new map. Mind you, it’s a nice looking map.  FAX night map That’s missing huge chunks of Fresno West Fresno isn’t even invited to the map. Riverpark, apparently, is the northern border of the city. East-west travel is not advised. On the other hand, the routes they chose are decent. With the exception of route 32 (which I would guess was political), the highest ridership lines received new service. However, does a downtown transfer hub make sense at 11pm? That’s not where the jobs are. That’s not where the residents are. And frankly, that’s not where people want to be standing around waiting for their connections. Downtown obviously needs service, but running both 30 and 28 so close together south of Shields seems unnecessary. A Shields crosstown bus would probably impact more people. 

Limited sections

Aside from only covering 5 routes, the chosen routes will not run their entire length during the “night” service. The reason seems to be to keep the entire night operation running with a grand total of 9 buses.  Route 32, for example, usually runs all the way up to Riverpark, as does 38, which actually terminates downtown via south Fresno. Route 28 usually ends at Fresno State. I’m not saying the 5 chosen routes shouldn’t be shortened – making modifications absolutely makes sense. I’m just saying it’s a surprise.  Well, except in the case of Route 32. Here is the normal run.

FaxRoute32-1_Page_1

The problem, is that the (extremely) shortened route is scheduled as follows:

Discussion begins in Fresno about prioritizing frequency over coverage on the bus network

Last month, the Fresno City Council heard a workshop on a proposed restructuring of the Fresno bus system (FAX), one that would allow for improved service on trunk routes, creating 15-minute headways in the corridors with the most transit demand. 

This type of restructuring is the bread and butter of Jarrett Walker over at Human Transit. You can read about a project he worked on in Houston here. Mr. Walker has been involved with FAX on and off for a few years now. He first gave a presentation at Fresno State in October of 2010, and was then brought in by the city to create the “Metropolitan Area Public Transportation Strategic Service Evaluation (PDF)” in early 2014. You can find more on that process here. The evaluation is in fact the foundation for this new restructuring project. Mr. Walker’s team was also involved in the current proposals, which offer specific and concrete recommendations, rather than an overview of possibilities. Click to read more!

Fresno’s bus ridership, 7 years of decline (and counting)

What happens when a city won’t stop growing, but the transit system doesn’t grow with it? The system becomes less useful. And the less useful the system is, the less riders will use it. Welcome to Fresno.

We know that bus ridership is down a tad nationwide, but in many cities, it is because riders have taken to trains. Unfortunately, that’s not possible in Fresno, where the bus is your one and only transit option. That means a decline in bus ridership indicates more driving, or worse, less trips being taken (i.e, people not being able to get to jobs).

I last looked at Fresno bus ridership in March of 2012 when ridership appeared to be on a scary downwards trend. Three years later, has it changed? Sadly, the answer is no. Click to read more!

Bus from Fresno to Yosemite starts this weekend! Adds exciting local options!

This weekend, public transit service begins for the first time connecting Fresno to Yosemite. Aside from serving a tourist purpose, the system also will operate as an important commuter and community connection. Thanks to the anonymous comment letting me know the schedule was up!

Stops will be at:

  • Fresno Greyhound
  • Fresno Amtrak
  • Fresno Airport
  • Fresno State
  • Outside Kaiser Permanente Hospital (near River Park)
  • Madera, Highway 145 Park and Ride
  • Coarsegold Market
  • Oakhurst Best Western
  • Tenaya Lodge
  • Wawona Hotel
  • Yosemite Valley (three stops)

 photo yarts5_zpstpb1baco.png
YARTS has developed an extensive long-distance bus network to serve Yosemite.

The first bus leaves the Fresno airport bright and early at 4am, with the next four trips starting at the Greyhound station at 7:52am, 9:10am, 12:10pm and 2:10pm. A final commuter run leaves Fresno at 5:45pm and goes only as far as Oakhurst. Click to read more!

Fresno COG conducting (bad) survey on FAX service – deadline June 23!

I got an interesting email today from the Fresno Council of Governments, the metropolitan planning agency for the Fresno area.

They’re conducting a study on how to improve FAX, which like most studies, includes public comment. Apparently, they put a survey online in late May, and sent out emails yesterday because the deadline is next week.

They’re paying the good folks at Parsons Brincherhoff large sums of money to do this. 

In an effort to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our existing fixed route bus systems, the Fresno Council of Governments is currently examining the metropolitan area’s travel patterns for both Fresno and Clovis through extensive surveys and analysis of area transit riders and non-riders.
Project documents are available for review on the Fresno Council of Governments website at www.fresnocog.org/strategic-transit-plan.  Please take our survey and share your preferences about the transit system. 
Public comments are encouraged and may be submitted in writing by 5:00 p.m. on June 23, 2014 to: info@theriosco.com

Sounds great right? A perfect opportunity to tell them that the area transit sucks, and they must do more to improve it.

Don’t get excited. It’s a loaded survey with a leading questions giving people a false choice. Here’s what it says: Click to read more!

No one noticed, but Fresno killed its proposed BRT system

Nashville, and the ludicrous attempts to ban bus rapid transit (BRT) there by state legislators, has been getting all the news lately, but it’s not the only BRT system to see its future flushed down the toilet by short-sighted elected officials.

After two months of “retooling,”  the Fresno BRT project returned to the City Council a few weeks ago; problem is, there was no BRT left to approve.

Back in January, the Fresno city council put a temporary hold on the $50 million BRT plan which had been in the works since 2008. Even though the process had gone through dozens of public workshops, council presentations, and other forms of outreach, the council acted as if this was the first time they’d heard about it. I wrote about their “concerns”  here. Click to read more!

Federal budget includes more money for Fresno BRT

Part of the recent release of the 2014 federal budget included a list of what the FTA will fund as part of their “small starts” program. That budget includes another piece of the Fresno BRT (bus rapid transit) funding puzzle – another $10 million. The Fresno Bee last reported on the initial $17.8m grant over two years ago. No money was handed out in the 2013 budget.

BRT in Fresno is supposed to improve bus service along Blackstone and Kings Canyon, via downtown (and eventually the high speed rail station). Those are currently the corridors with highest bus ridership.

Unfortunately, Fresno isn’t getting real BRT. Very few bus lanes, street-level boarding and really nothing more than you’d find on what other cities might label an express route or special route. Regardless of the lack of features, the project is expensive – almost $50 million. Some of those costs are for new articulated buses. A little more goes towards improving bus stops and shelters. But the meat of the funding will go towards….well, this is Fresno, so you know the answer. Road widening. Even though Blackstone and Kings Canyon already are very wide (6 lanes + parking + turn lanes), that apparently isn’t enough to paint a bus lane. The laughably small 20% of the project that will involve exclusive lanes revolves mostly along wider roads. Oh, and new traffic signals. Click to read more!

Fresno council committee recommending bus fare hikes

Yesterday’s City Council meeting included a presentation from the “City of Fresno Transit Rates and Service Committee” which issued a report outlining short, medium and long term goals for FAX (Fresno Area Express). The committee was formed in 2010 during steep city budget shortfalls, and recommended a fare hike of 25 cents, which was put into effect January 2011, resulting in fares of $1.25. That would be to correct the “problem” that was the political decision of keeping mass transit affordable, and on par with peer systems.

One of their first recommendations is a series of fare hikes, including one this year of an additional 25 cents, and raising the base fare to $2.00 by 2017. That would mean a complete doubling of the fare in just six years, and this is in spite of the fact that the last service expansion was over a decade ago. Indeed, over the past decade, as the city population has ballooned and unemployment has spiked (currently still over 14% in Fresno), four routes were actually eliminated and no new service has been introduced. Probably not the best way to connect people with jobs. Click to read more!