Hike service

Fresno transit tax measure requires more money for bus service

OPINION AND COMMENT

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Passengers prepare to board a FAX bus at a stop near Manchester Centre.

Fresno Bee File

Measure C is a half-cent sales tax aimed at improving transportation systems in Fresno County. It will control the fate of transportation in the county, affecting the lives of countless people who inhabit this region.

As a young person who uses public transit as their primary mode of transportation, I worry about how this money is distributed.

Measure C should generate a budget of $1.6 billion. The local community is calling on decision makers to suspend renewal until the 2024 election cycle to ensure that more community contributions are provided so that the money is spent meaningfully and equitably. Currently, the county plans to allocate 52% of the Measure C budget to the repair and maintenance of community streets, while only 1% is allocated to active transportation, 12% to urban transit and rural, 18% to local needs, 15% to regional mobility, and finally 2% to environmental stability.

With more than half of the budget spent solely on creating new roads, decision makers are ignoring the real needs of the community. It is urgent that we provide Fresno communities with the funds needed to create sidewalks, plant more green life, and improve Fresno FAX bus systems.

I grew up in northeast Fresno, in District 1. Living in this community, I often struggled with our transportation systems, both FAX, our sidewalks, and our street maps. .

While attending Glacier Point Middle School, my peers and I constantly saw our buses running late or just missing them. As a result, we had to walk home. The fastest way home was about a 50 minute walk down Ashlan Avenue for me and the other students who lived in and around the Highway City area.

Getting down Ashlan was a huge struggle for us due to the lack of sidewalks. We had to cross these thorny, weed-filled dirt roads as we got scratched and our jeans got dirty. On top of that, because of the narrow path, the anxiety was always great because of the speeding cars.

With no trees or shade, we often had to stop and rest from the scorching summer heat. Also, we suffered during the rainy days as we walked on the dirt road, soiling our clothes.

My story is not unique. The struggle has been and is shared with students in the Central Unified District, specifically: Central East High, Teague Elementary, Steinbeck Elementary, and the new Justin Garza High School.

Young people rely on streets like Ashlan to be safe and accessible. Given the current budget, I am not satisfied with the allocation of the money. There is no way that 1% of the active transportation budget can fix my neighborhood, and every neighborhood in the county.

My experiences with public transport at the present time are still unsatisfactory. By using the FAX bus system at least four times a week, I feel all the frustrations of the system. Driving mainly on the 20 bus, my journeys last 70 minutes, not counting the 10 minute walk I have to do to get from my house to the bus stop. Also, my specific bus arrives at 45 minute intervals which means if I have a class at 12:30 I need to leave my house at least by 10:25 to make sure I get on the 10:44 bus if I want to arrive to class on time.

Fresno has only one bus that integrates a rapid transit system, Bus 1, which runs from the Sunnyside neighborhood to the River Park Mall, and arrives every 10 minutes.

The #WhatTheFAX campaign has spearheaded the movement to implement increased bus services. By conducting interviews with young bus drivers, the campaign revealed that WiFi on buses and increasing bus frequency were top priority concerns. The county responded by adding these features to the 1 bus, but it’s been years now and we still don’t see any development in implementing these features on other routes.

County budget plans for Measure C are not responsive to community needs. The county should seek community input instead of keeping budget meetings low-key.

Also, we need to invest more money in the FAX system, because every bus and every community deserves rapid transit and free Wi-Fi for buses. And there’s no reason for streets near schools to lack sidewalks.

These decision makers can do more for our communities. They need to listen to people and research our stories.

Ashens Límon attends Fresno City College.

Ashens Limon.jpg
Ashens Limon Contributed

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