FAX Q Is Quick, But Will It Deliver?
By Laura Tsutsui
Valley Public Radio
27 February 2018
Photo courtesy of Valley Public Radio
Daniel A. Rodriguez, professor of City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley and associate director of Berkeley’s Institute for Transportation Studies, recently spoke with Valley Public Radio reporter Laura Tsutsui about Fresno’s ongoing project to update the city’s bus system with Bus Rapid Transit, known “light rail on wheels.”
Because building and running a traditional light rail system is a large upp-front expense, Freno has opted to update its current bus routes and system with dedicated lanes, iconic stations typically aligned to the center of the road, off-board fare collection, and fast and frequent operations.
Rodriguez says that this middle ground of better service and affordable upgrades often makes BRT an improvement for cities. “Ultimately, I think for downtowns, for busy corridors, this is the wave of the future,” says Rodriguez.
However, Rodriguez also says BRT is not a quick fix for making public transportation popular. “I would be surprised if there was a dramatic jump in ridership,” Rodriguez says about Fresno’s BRT. “In fact, what you're seeing pretty much across the board in U.S. is that transit ridership is going down. So this is one way of stopping that bleeding of riders.”
Earlier this month, the City of Fresno updated their busiest routes along Blackstone and Kings Canyon Avenues. The new route is served by the bus rapid transit system that they’re calling FAX Q.
“‘Q’ stands for quick and quality,” says Jim Schaad, Fresno’s Director of Transportation. He says that the nearly $50 million project is an effort to provide better service for the city’s riders, and maybe even attract new ones.
“What we've seen is when we provided faster service with more frequencies is our ridership actually goes up,” Schaad says. “My primary goal is to see our ridership increase.” The website says FAX Q is “almost 25 percent faster than traditional service.”
But not all riders feel so positive about the new system, resulting route changes and public marketing campaign. Listen to the Valley Public Radio segment to hear riders' opinions on the success of FAX Q in Fresno.