Passengers on two of the busiest Fresno transit routes to and from Fresno State will start seeing more frequent weekday bus service starting Monday, just a week before the start of spring-semester classes at the university.
FAX15 is the brand for the city’s new service, on which new buses will run every 15 minutes on portions of Shaw and Cedar avenues from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. FAX stands for Fresno Area Express, the city’s public bus system.
More buses will mean that passengers on the prime sections of two routes won’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for the next bus to come along.
On FAX’s north-south Route 38 along Cedar Avenue, the FAX 15 buses will run between Jensen Avenue and Shaw Avenue, said Brian Marshall, the city’s transportation director.
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“That’s the portion of the route that is at high capacity, where we have overcrowding and we often have to pass people up,” Marshall said.
On the remainder of the route, which continues north from Fresno State to Nees Avenue and River Park, and west from Jensen and Cedar avenues to downtown Fresno, the regular FAX service will run on its usual 30-minute intervals.
Similarly, FAX Route 9 along Shaw Avenue will have the new 15-minute intervals between Brawley and Cedar avenues. Sections of the route east of Fresno State and west of Brawley will continue to have buses running every 30 minutes.
“Those are two of our busier routes, and we’re focusing on just those segments where we regularly have to pass people up” at stops because the buses are full, Marshall said. And, he added, “the school is a major contributor to our ridership. … Students are a big part of the demand, but there are a lot of other people who are making trips that don’t involve Fresno State.”
The higher-frequency service on Shaw and Cedar avenues is one of several projects that FAX is working on this year to bolster the appeal and utility of its service to would-be riders.
The city also is working on construction of new bus stops and shelters along Blackstone Avenue and Ventura Avenue/Kings Canyon Road for its new FAX Q BRT bus rapid transit service, a more-frequent express bus line expected to launch in November to connect north and southeast Fresno to downtown.
In addition to buying new buses for the FAX15 and FAX Q BRT lines, Marshall said, the city has hired about 70 new drivers and added more staff mechanics.
Collectively, the Blackstone/Kings Canyon corridor, Shaw Avenue and Cedar Avenue “are the three routes where the heaviest passenger loads are,” Marshall said.
“When BRT begins, we don’t want people to get off those buses (at Blackstone and Shaw avenues or Ventura and Cedar avenues) and have to wait up to 30 minutes for those connecting buses.”
“We know we have to compete with the automobile” to build ridership, he added. “We need to be part of the city’s infrastructure. It’s not just connecting Point A to Point X; it’s connecting people to jobs and services and schools. … We’re finally bringing our system up to the level of service that’s needed.”
Fares for the FAX15 service will be the same as the normal 30-minute service. The basic fare is $1.25 per ride including transfers. Riders also can buy a monthly $48 Metro Pass for unlimited ridership on FAX and Clovis Stageline buses.
Fresno State students, faculty and staff members who have a Bulldog Card ID from the university can ride FAX buses at no charge under a trial program between the university and the city.
“The student’s card syncs with our system, and we bill it back to Fresno State at an adjusted rate,” Marshall said.