Following a public hearing last night that lasted about seven hours, the Fresno City Council voted four-to-three against two contracts needed to move forward with the proposed Bus Rapid Transit system. The high-capacity express bus system would have been funded through a $50 million federal grant.
District 6 council member Lee Brand says his vote against the project was based in doubts about the 2035 General Plan. The new bus system was a major element of the proposed plan, which calls for more development within the city limits, and high-density residential buildings along Blackstone Avenue.
“The whole thing is on a house of cards,” Brand says. “It really doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Disappointed advocates view the decision as a blow against the General Plan.
“The decision last night was a clear devaluation of public transportation,” says Christine Barker of Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries. “It was a not-so-veiled attempt to criticize the plan that the community selected and supported.”
Another advocate, views the vote as a lack of support for working-class people, who live along the Blackstone and Kings Canyon corridors and rely on public transportation.
“The people that definitely needed this service to have a more effective means of transportation will not see the benefit,” says Centro Binacional para el Desarollo Indigena Oaxaqueno assistant director Walter Ramirez.
The plan might not be dead. Brand says a compromise might be reached in a few months, with some modifications to the proposed General Plan and express bus system.