It should be noted that “Council Member Steve Brandau says Fresno Area Express, the well-known FAX bus system that serves the city’s 112 square miles, is in a state of disrepair,” wrote George Hostetter in: “Fresno’s transit future at key place Bus Rapid Transit part of Swearengin’s vision” in The Fresno Bee.
Has it ever dawned on anyone that maybe the reason for this is because the area served is just too large? My sense is that many buses are required (I think about 100) to cover that much ground, which means that at least that many drivers must be at the ready.
Moreover, periodic servicing is doubtless part of the operational equation and what this means, presumably, is that substitute buses must be on hand to replace those undergoing maintenance, that is, if such being worked on are to be out of commission for extended periods of time. And, then there are fuel costs to consider and so on and so forth.
Federal and state grant money is presumably there for the Fresno BRT “starter” system.
And, as brought out in the aforementioned Hostetter story, the City Manager – Bruce Rudd – insists there is enough available money to keep the planned BRT system operational for three years.
What BRT in Fresno will purportedly do is speed up overall travel time on account of quicker boardings and alightings, traffic signal prioritization, fare pre-payment boarding, fewer stops (stops at half-mile intervals as opposed to the current quarter-mile intervals) plus other time-savings attributes that could either be built in or added at some future point.
Will BRT garner ridership substantial enough to be effective; will it be a non-starter or game-changer in this regard? Will rapid transit buses incorporate hybridization technology, i.e., combination gasoline engine and electric propulsion, in other words? Being what we are talking about here is air pollution reduction, will it live up to that responsibility? Can BRT in Fresno deliver the goods?
On the other hand, the capital outlay for light rail transit (LRT) construction for the same 15.7 miles may indeed be higher, but, over the long haul, LRT versus BRT may be way more economical to operate. As I see it, it’s akin to buying a low- or no-emissions motor vehicle, which, initially, may be more expensive than a conventional car. But, over time, the environmentally-friendly model will likely be a much more cost-effective solution.
Not only this but compared to BRT, LRT maintenance costs may be lower and rail vehicles may require replacement far less often than BRT buses. Moreover, for a comparably-sized LRT system, fewer drivers/operators are needed.
As it relates, in the Bee editorial “Bus Rapid Transit will benefit Fresno residents,” it is written: “With BRT’s quicker and more frequent service, ridership is likely to rise – helping residents, helping our economy and reducing air pollution.” But, honestly, couldn’t this also be said of LRT?
For Fresno, will BRT be a go?
Though not asked, but, if given the choice to pick a method by which to cut local air pollution and if in accomplishing this public transportation was the main means to help bring this about, for Fresno what solution would I seek? LRT.
Having said that, at the end of the day, BRT’s fate seems to be in the hands of city leaders. Will it be a go?
In other news, meanwhile, high-speed rail appears to be on its way and excavating work related to this in Fresno is underway.
– Alan Kandel