Councilmembers propose free FAX bus travel for all Fresno residents

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FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Several Fresno City Councilmembers hope to make riding the bus in Fresno more equitable. Councilmembers say a free bus system would ease financial burdens for those impacted by the pandemic but opponents say there is no such thing as a free ride. 

Tyler Maxwell, a Fresno city councilmember, said this initiative is needed to help people who have fallen on hard times during this pandemic. 

“The Zero Fare Clean Air Act will provide relief to those families dealing with the immediate consequences of COVID-19,” said Maxwell.

Maxwell along with other city councilmembers like Nelson Esparza and Esmeralda Soria introduced the Zero Fare Clean Air Act which aims to offer free bus rides to all Fresno residents.

“By investing in Zero Fare bus system we are supporting our working families, students, the disabled, the elderly, and any resident who relies on public transportation daily,” said Esparza. 

These councilmembers say a free bus system would ease financial burdens, provide transportation for anyone who needs to go get a vaccine, and could reduce pollution. 

Evelyn Gamble with Fresno Youth Commission said a majority of FAX bus riders are women of color and younger generations. 

“We know that typically that some of the bulk buyers of the bus passes are Fresno unified, state senator of community college district and Fresno state. this shows us that a large number of riders are youth in our city,” said Gamble. 

However, opponents, including councilmember Garry Bredefeld say the proposal could lead to a $30,000,000 shortfall in city funds. 

“The reality is nothing in this world is free it will cost something, and it will cost taxpayers one way or the other,” said Bredefeld. 

Bredefeld said one red flag is the lack of a comprehensive plan to pay for it. 

“It’s well-intentioned but not well thought out and you just can’t run city government by making it free,” said Bredefeld. 

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