Fresno could get new FAX bus system

FRESNO, Calif.

The money would be used to create an express bus system that would link River Park in north Fresno to the Fancher Creek area in southeast Fresno.

Fresno could be among ten new cities across the country that's slated to take on this new project.

City officials claim the $17.8 million boost would make getting around town a lot easier.

Under the Bus Rapid Transit System Proposal -- special red FAX buses would transport passengers more efficiently in the busier areas of Fresno.

This video simulation provided by fax shows how the buses would operate.

"Bus Rapid Transit is going to really improve travel times for Fresno Area Express riders. Probably about 25-30%," John Downs said.

Officials say the express route would go from the Woodward Park/River Park area in north Fresno along Blackstone Ave. to the Fancher Creek area in southeast Fresno along Kings Canyon.

First there would be less stops along this express route. There would also be jump lanes at major intersections.

This allows buses to leapfrog traffic during rush hour. And finally sensors would be placed on traffic signals so that the express buses can get first priority with green lights.

Many bus riders that we spoke with say they're in favor of the proposal.

"I think it's a great idea. Because if it's getting us there faster you know. More convenient it's great," Myqwin Johnson said.

"It would save a whole lot of money because you're talking about going down Blackstone you've got to stop at the lights. I think it would be very nice," James Smith said.

Riders did admit they're afraid of how much this new express system will cost them. City officials say it'll be the same price people are currently paying for riding a normal FAX bus.

Still other critics wonder why the money can't be used to help fix FAX's financial troubles.

In the past year it has had to reduce several routes and increase bus fares.

FAX planning manager john downs says the federal stimulus money cannot go towards fixing that problem.

"It has to be used for infrastructure and improvements. It has to be used to acquire vehicles. It has to be for improving our stations. I really can't use it to operate buses with. I can't pay drivers with that. I can't buy fuel with that money."

The entire system is expected to cost $48-million with most of that coming from the federal government.

FAX officials are hoping the rest of it will come from a state grant.

If approved construction could begin in the summer of 2013.

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