Construction has begun on the first phase for Fresno’s new bus rapid transit system, which is expected to provide faster bus connections from the north and east ends of the city with downtown.
The new BRT system is expected to become operational in November 2017. It will replace existing portions of two current FAX bus routes: one along Blackstone Avenue from River Park in north Fresno to downtown Fresno, and one along Ventura Street and Kings Canyon Road from the Sunnyside district to downtown.
The construction, expected to cost about $30 million, is causing some traffic delays along Blackstone between Shaw and McKinley avenues, as crews close traffic lanes to finish the installation of new bus pads.
Succeeding phases will be along Blackstone from Shaw to River Park from September through November; Blackstone, Abby Street, Ventura Street and downtown Fresno in early 2017; and Ventura Avenue and Kings Canyon Road from about First Street to Clovis Avenue in the summer of 2017.
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Work on the FAX bus station on Van Ness Avenue in front of the Fresno County Courthouse is expected to continue through February, while work at the Manchester Center FAX terminal is set for next spring.
Federal grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation are covering most of the cost to build the system, which will include new buses, reinforced bus parking areas and new shelters at bus stops, modifications to traffic signals to give buses a priority for green lights, and vending machines where riders will buy tickets before they board buses instead of dropping quarters into a farebox.
Fresno’s FAX system provides about 14 million rides annually, said Brian Marshall, the city’s transportation director, and the bus routes on the Blackstone and Ventura/Kings Canyon corridors carry about 1.6 million riders a year.