Fresno Bus Rapid Transit plan comes to a screeching halt

A plan to run large, fast buses through Fresno has hit a roadblock.
January 31, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A plan to run large, fast buses through Fresno has hit a roadblock. The city council rejected the $50 million Bus Rapid Transit plan.

The first phase would have traveled along two major corridors: Blackstone Avenue from the River Park shopping center in North Fresno to the courthouse Downtown.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was pushed as a way to improve Fresno's bus service. The first phase would have larger, faster buses run north and south on Blackstone and east and west on Kings Canyon.

Fresno businessman Tal Cloud was among those who argued the $50 million plan is not the answer.

"What we need to focus on is improving our existing bus service throughout the county," Cloud said.

But supporter Scott Miller of Fresno, and others, told the city council BRT is exactly what the city needs.

"We very much support BRT we feel like the investment at the center of our city is crucial," Miller said.

After seven hours of discussion and debate from nearly 100 people, the council voted 4-3 against the plan.

For City Council Member Lee Brand one big problem was money. $50 million in federal and state grants would get the project going and provide operating costs for three years. But Brand wasn't sure the city could sustain it.

"It was getting the financial details to make sure people thoroughly evaluated it, is it going to give us what we expected, it is going to cost the same amount of money. Is it one day going to come back to haunt the city," Brand said.

Brand said he would be willing to look at a revised plan. City council member Oliver Baines says the fight for BRT is not over and believes getting it done will require bridging the gap between conservative and progressive forces in the city.

"People have a hard time moving forward and they are very comfortable with where they are, so we have a segment of the city that is very comfortable and another segment that wants to move forward we want to have nicer things we want to have a better opportunity .Striking that balance is sometimes tough, and I think that's what you are seeing right now," Baines said.

Baines, along with Mayor Ashley Swearengin hopes to present a modified BRT proposal to the City Council in the coming months.


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