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Speeding Up Public Transportation

Fresno city leaders voted to implement Bus Rapid Transit. It's designed to increase ridership by getting people to their destinations faster.
On Thursday, council members approved the heavily debated Bus Rapid Transit Project by a 6-1 vote.  Its goal is to make riding the bus faster and more convenient.  In turn, people will park their cars and increase ridership.

It passed because the size of the project was chopped down $13 million dollars from the original estimate.  The total cost is still $36 million, which is covered by federal and state grants.

By the middle of 2016, six new rapid transit buses will be added to cover some of the city's busiest corridors:  Blackstone Ave., the Ventura and Kings Canyon route and the stretch of Shaw Ave. between Fresno State and West Ave.
Regular riders we spoke with were split about the idea of speeding up service.

"I think they work fine already, the buses," said Alvaro Solaria.

"I think it would be a waste of money," said Ashley Crawford, a bus rider.

"It's definitely worth it," said Sean Conley, a bus rider.

"It would be nice to get something faster," said Emilio Orosco, a bus rider.

Councilman Steve Brandau was the only member to vote against the project.  He's skeptical of the fact that ridership numbers are down.

"I don't see the demand for this type of investment.  I still would rather see this money brought back and applied to something else," said Steve Brandau, District 2 Councilman.

Bus Rapid Transit won't look much different from what you're seeing now.  No separate lanes are being create and the same 40 foot buses will be in place.  However, some will make fewer stops and have the ability to to change traffic signals from red to green, quicker.

Councilman Clint Olivier says this move rescues the existing FAX system.

"It's struggling to be safe, struggling to be clean and struggling to be efficient.  This is a service upgrade," said Clint Olivier, District 7 Councilman.

Another selling point for the District 7 leader is that money is going toward adding a security guard to the troubled Manchester Center bus stop.

"It's an unarmed position, but it's a law enforcement position.  They can call for backup and it will be there in a heartbeat if trouble breaks out.  It's a huge upgrade for the center of the city," said Olivier.

You can consider the first three years of this system to be a trial period because the operating expenses are covered by the grant money.  If it turns out to be a complete flop, the city could choose to pull the plug on the project and rotate the newer buses into its regular fleet.
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