One of the most frustrating parts about journalism in California, especially in regards to high speed rail (HSR), has been the inability of reporters to see beyond their personal bubble. Many times, it seems like these journalists take their own experience, and extrapolate it to be the “California experience”. For example, if they drive everywhere, then “everybody drives”. Or, when it comes to travel within the state, “everybody flies”. For a rambling discussion at the bar, that’s not an issue, but when these journalists write for major newspapers and get to set the tone, it loses all its amusement.
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: email@example.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:
The Fresno Bee reports that the Visalia City Council voted to move forward with an update to their growth plan. The update will divert focus from their downtown to new commercial strips on what is currently agricultural land.
I thought this quote was particularly amusing
a cue from some of the mistakes Fresno made related to Blackstone,” he
said. “Once you open the barn door, all of the cattle leave and you can’t
get them in the barn again.”
A few months ago, the city of Visalia, California, implemented a system which allows the public to know the actual location of buses, so they can better plan their rides. While this technology has existed around the world for over a decade, and has been slowly arriving in cities like Boston and San Francisco in the US, Visalia is the first city in the San Joaquin valley to implement the technology.
If you expected the roll-out of the technology to make some riders happy, but not have any other effects, you’d be wrong. Data from the APTA shows that ridership took a strong bump once customers were able to find out how long they’d have to wait for a bus.
GPS tracking on buses hit the scene a few years ago in America in major cities like San Francisco and DC, courtesy of a company called Nextbus. The technology had already been wildly deployed in Europe for many years.
Now Visalia has joined the party, but Fresno, with the largest bus agency in the central valley, hasn’t given its customers the tools they need to have a better bus experience.
So why is GPS tracking important for riders? In cities like Fresno, where buses are infrequent at best (the two most popular bus lines have the best service at a bus every 20 minutes), missing a bus can lead to a very long wait. Some buses come just once an hour, and missing the bus can mean losing a job. This means passengers must arrive extra early and waste their time with no idea of where the bus is, when it is coming, and if the journey will be completed on time.