Written by The Business Journal Staff
At a groundbreaking Wednesday morning, Mayor Ashley Swearengin, City Manager Bruce Rudd, Congressman Jim Costa and Transportation Director Brian Marshall officially kicked off construction of Fresno’s new $54 million, 15.7 mile Bus Rapid Transit System.
The ceremony took place at the FAX Terminal at Manchester Center.
“This project has been a long time in the making dating back to 2006 when the City first pursued grants to fund the project. I’m so pleased to see construction finally begin,” said Swearengin.
“Improving public transit in our community has been a high priority during my administration,” Swearengin added. “When completed, the Bus Rapid Transit system will not only provide greater service reliability and increased customer convenience, it will also help promote revitalization and development opportunities throughout Fresno.”
The system will feature a total of 27 stops, and will serve major shopping centers, hospitals and other significant destinations. The transit line will connect all major north-south corridors, Blackstone Avenue, and a major east-west corridor, Ventura Avenue and Kings Canyon Road through Downtown Fresno.
The project, which was 80 percent funded by a federal transportation grant, includes 51 stations: 24 station pairs (or 48 one-way stations), two terminal stations and one transit center with a shared platform station.
The system will be run with 17 new low-floor, multi-door, compressed natural gas low-emission 40-foot vehicles.
Marshall said the difference between the Bus Rapid Transit system and the traditional fixed route service is simple — wait times and customer boarding takes less time, schedules are more reliable due to transit signal priority ten-minute service frequencies during peak transit times, travel times are faster due to fewer stops, stops are located one-half mile apart compared to one-quarter mile stops.
“While our Bus Rapid Transit system will offer a fast and reliable service along the busiest transit corridors in Fresno, BRT is not just about transit service,” said Rudd. “We’ve also changed the land use regulations along the BRT routes so property owners have a lot more flexibility on how they can develop their property. By combining land use and transportation plans, we’ve got the right tools in place to spur infill development and revitalization.”
Construction is set to begin in a few weeks and city officials expect the new service to be operating by November 2017.