The Fresno Area Express and the City of Fresno will launch their latest project, the Q, on Feb. 19.
The Q is expected to help FCC students who have trouble finding parking on campus as well as provide free rides to those who have student identification cards, according to Esmeralda Soria, City Councilwoman for District 1 in Fresno.
According to a promotional video issued by the Department of Transportation, The Q is a cost-effective solution to increased traffic, and population and air quality problems and will provide comfort and reliability.
The launch will herald free rides from Feb. 19 through the 25, as well as ambassadors at each station to assist passengers who have questions or concerns.
“If we drive a little less, we can all contribute to making our air quality just a little better,” Esmeralda Soria, City Council Member for District 1, said, during a community meeting on Jan. 23. She said the Q is critical for the environment.
Jim Schaad, the director of the Department of Transportation at the Manchester Transit Center, shared the new features of the Q during the meeting.
Schaad said the features include wheelchair access and 54 lit-up platforms, with ticket vending machines to purchase faire. These machines will include sound for the visually impaired, as well as ADA Compliant informational booths. Machines will be programmed in English and Spanish, and patrons can expect more languages in the future.
“The buses are a bit more luxurious than the traditional or fixed route buses,” Suzanne Bertz-Rosa, strategic and creative director for the Q, said. “The analogous colors communicate harmony and are approachable shades of greens and blues. We wanted to make the BRT system approachable and friendly.”
There will be 18 FAX officers to extend security for Q Passengers. The buses include accommodation for cyclers by holding up to three bikes, and WIFI will be installed in all Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) busses within the next six months.
“Once at the platform, riders can buy tickets ranging from 31-day passes, to single day or 10 day passes. Once the ticket is purchased it will be good for up to 90 minutes,” Gregory Barfield, assistant director of the Department of Transportation in Fresno, said.
The buses will run from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Riders have the advantage of tracking the arrival time of each bus, using the Fresno Transit App and by using Google Maps, marked as Route 1.
The app will provide a countdown to when to expect the next bus.
Approximately $33,000 worth of bus fares each month come from students in Fresno. Students also utilize bus passes with their student identification card to ride the bus for free.
Some people in the audience raised concerns about the new transportation system, including sun glare off the screens for passengers with low vision.
Also, citizens with mobility impairment may have trouble walking the distance because of limited bus stops, primarily being at major streets.
Other questions asked by the audience include helping the homeless with transportation, bus driver feedback and the extended wait time of 60 minutes from the hours of 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., which could be unsafe.
The audience also questioned the wisdom of ending bus services at 1:30 a.m., which could adversely affect the nightlife of citizens. Expansion of the Q is also in the works for future projects.
The new schedule guides for the BRT with be available on Feb. 12.