Fresno residents can look forward to a faster and more user-friendly bus system that will serve the Blackstone and Kings Canyon corridors.
Last Tuesday (Jan. 15), residents had the opportunity to learn more about Fresno's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and comment on the designs of the station shelters.
BRT line is a major capital improvement project by the City of Fresno's Department of Transportation and Fresno Area Express. It is expected to be running in 2015.
"It looks nice, the buses remind me of larger cities," said Fresno resident Steve McComas of the BRT project. "It would be nice to see this come."
The route will provide frequent transit service to 26 stations along a 15.7-mile urbanized corridor. The new service will operate every 10 minutes during peak periods and 15-minute intervals during off-peak.
"The 10-minute wait is not bad at all," McComas said.
The project extends from Audubon Drive at the northern end of Blackstone, south through downtown, and from Kings Canyon east to Clovis Avenue.
Salina Solís is glad a faster bus service will be offered.
Solís, an 18-year-old college student, said a bus ride from Manchester Center to River Park, "takes forever now."
The project combines two of the most popular routes with high ridership and demand, said Kari Turner, with PIVOT Architecture, one of the BRT project team members.
The corridor has more than 7,000 daily boardings. It will connect downtown Fresno with commercial, educational and medical centers in North Fresno.
Joe Castillo said this project would benefit his son Alex, who is a student at Fresno City College. He said the 22-year-old takes the bus from college to his work at Blackstone and El Paso Avenue.
The BRT is a rubber-tired light rail transit with greater operating flexibility and potentially lower costs.
"It is intended to mimic light rail at a lower cost for the city to provide the service," Turner said.
The project cost is estimated at $48.19 million, and includes the purchase of eight vehicles.
John Pulliam with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., one of the BRT project team members, said it would cost three times as much to build a 15-mile light rail system.
Turner said service enhancements to this corridor would include: level boarding platform for improved access at each of the stations, transit signal priority and signal coordination at intersections to bypass congestion, comfortable stops and stations with real-time bus arrival information displays at stations, off-board fare collection for efficient boarding and low-floor, low emission, 60-foot modern buses.
According to Pulliam, in order for the BRT to have priority at intersections, more than 70 traffic lights signals will be modified to allow for faster and more frequent service.
Pulliam hopes the new service will attract new riders.
"It will be safer, quicker and easier," he said.
The project also supports the Fulton Mall and downtown Fresno's development plans and will connect to the future high-speed rail service.