Government & Politics
5:20 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

In Fresno, Advocates & Bus Riders Call For Speedy New Bus Network

Fresno Council Member Oliver Baines is a supporter of Bus Rapid Transit.
Fresno Council Member Oliver Baines is a supporter of Bus Rapid Transit.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 

Around 40 activists, health advocates and bus riders rallied in Central Fresno Thursday urging the Fresno City Council to support an improved bus system.

Bus Rapid Transit would be a network of busses that would reduce travel time on major corridors like Blackstone Avenue by having fewer stops, pre-boarding fare collection and priority traffic signals. Fifty million dollars in federal and state funding has already been allocated which will pay for construction and the first three years of operation.

Sophia DeWitt, with Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, says Fresno’s current bus system is inefficient.

“It would take me an hour and a half to get from my home on West and Shaw to my office at FIRM just south of Clinton, by car the trip is 10 minutes,” DeWitt says.

Fresno City Council Member Oliver Baines supports the project.

"It would take me an hour and a half to get from my home on West and Shaw to my office at FIRM just south of Clinton, by car the trip is 10 minutes." - Sophia DeWitt

“What I’m asking my colleagues to do is to recognize what is happening, recognize that now is the time to make a wise decision in infrastructure, in bus rapid transit, and capitalize on the momentum that we have right now," Baines says. 

Opponents of the project question whether it will attract riders and worry it could harm conventional FAX service.

Baines disagrees.

“I have not heard a single intelligible argument as to why we should not invest along this corridor and encourage this type of development that encourages better quality of life for people,” Baines says.

 The council is expected to vote on the issue in the coming weeks.