FresnoHOP: Exploring the Pros and Cons of Fresno’s New Transit System

EVELYN RAMIREZ – for the trolley system

“Take a ride on the trolley and let it transport you to a world full of adventure and discovery!”

It’s like when Daniel Tiger and his friends take the trolley in “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”. Each ride is an opportunity for them to explore new places and meet new friends.

On Nov. 3, Mayor Jerry Dyer introduced “The Hop”, a new trolley system that aims to connect more residents to downtown Fresno. The trolley is revolutionizing the way residents and visitors travel throughout the city.

With its cool design, free fare, free Wi-Fi, and eco-friendly features, not only is this a great addition providing a convenient way to get around, but it is also contributing to reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

The trolley, which was introduced as part of the city’s sustainable urban transport project, operates on low-emission technology, making it an environmentally-friendly choice for commuters as well as reducing congestion and traffic on roads.

The trolley system will also bring several benefits to businesses by stimulating local economic growth, improving access to key areas and attracting more tourists and customers. It makes it easier for people to visit and support businesses.

The trolley’s route covers key areas of Fresno, including the downtown area, shopping districts, and entertainment venues. Passengers can hop on and off the trolley at various stops conveniently located throughout the city, allowing them to easily access popular destinations and attractions. Whether you’re visiting Fresno for the first time or are a long-term resident, this new trolley system offers a fun memorable experience.

In an interview with Fresnoland, Karen Carrillo, president of Associated Students, Inc. at Fresno State, noted that The Hop will be a way to connect commuter students to the downtown nightlife.

“Something I hear so often when commuters come to Fresno State is, ‘What is there to do in Fresno? Where’s the fun? Where can I go for the nightlife?’” Carrillo said. “And the first thing that I always brag to them about is ArtHop, it is the nightlife, it is the thrift stores, it is your favorite coffee shop.”

Although buses could have been improved, there must be factors to play such as cost, flexibility, or the existing infrastructure. The trolley system has a unique charm and can enhance the aesthetic appeal of the city. And although The Hop currently only connects to seven stops, Dyer said that the service will be expanded if a larger demand is seen over time.

With its bright and vibrant exterior, the new trolley has quickly become a recognizable symbol of Fresno’s commitment to sustainable mobility.

As a college student, this will be easily accessible for me. I enjoy thrifting and going out. I am looking forward to going downtown with my friends. We are hopeful that Fresno will continue to strive, improve, grow and be an amazing city.

ASHENS LIMON – opposed to the trolley system

Mayor Jerry Dyer unveiled a new mode of transportation in Fresno dubbed FresnoHOP, which is now available for public use.

FresnoHOP is a free trolley system that aims to connect more Fresnans to downtown Fresno. The service would run Thursdays from 5 p.m. to midnight and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and will make stops at Fresno State at Campus Pointe, the Brewery District, the Cultural Arts District, Tower District, and Fresno City College. 

The Fresno City Council vote that narrowly kickstarted the planning for the system was passed in late 2022. The plan drafted by Mayor Jerry Dyer was justified as a way to give young people an incentive to explore downtown Fresno and its Cultural Arts District.

Dyer has also been recorded claiming that this system would provide a safe method of transporting individuals who were drinking to safely get home without having to risk driving. 

The FresnoHOP system would only have the capacity to carry 32 people at a time, with stops coming in one-hour intervals. The trolley’s obviously dysfunctional and under-planned design demonstrates that these vehicles are merely being used to decorate Fresno rather than actually give its people a trustworthy, operational transportation system that isn’t solely made for drunk adults. There is no real reason for this new system of transportation to exist but to waste city funds. The quarter of a million being spent on each trolley (not including its annual costs) could have easily been put into our current widely used FAX bus system. 

The core idea of giving people a safe means of transportation in itself is a good idea. In particular, having these trolleys run so late at night is something that could easily help benefit Fresno. However, I feel that there is no reason, besides aesthetics, why the mayor didn’t implement this into even any one of the FAX buses. Currently, FAX buses will run at the latest until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sundays for select buses. 

Critiques brought up by the community included questions like if this might encourage people to drink dangerously. Mayor Dyer has made it clear, time and time again, that this system is to help discourage drunk driving. Although it also brings up the question, what about the younger teens or families wanting to use this system?

Community members are also asking if this plan is even sustainable. In the meeting that approved this plan last summer, treasurer of the FAX bus drivers union, Alfredo Molina, questioned who will be driving these trolleys. In this meeting, the trolley system was announced to not be operating under the city’s transportation system, indirectly affecting the jobs of all FAX bus drivers. 

This impromptu system creates no real improvement for the transport needs of Fresno citizens. A system made for intoxicated adults is something completely unnecessary and could potentially be dangerous.

What about the young people wanting to use this system, the families? How will this be sustainable in the long run, and who will be driving these buses? Why can’t we make some of our current buses stay out til midnight, or even better, make the FAX buses free like we are these trolleys?

Question after question is being brought up as this confusing and random new service develops. Mayor Jerry Dyer should look at the communities that rely on the FAX bus system when discussing new means of transportation instead of thinking up thoughtless ideas made to put a pretty bandage on the real issues affecting the community.

Editor’s Note: There’s always two sides to everything, and that stays true for FresnoHOP. We asked the young people of The kNOw Youth Media to share what they think about Fresno’s newest transportation system.

Evelyn Ramirez (she/her/hers)
Ashens Limon (he/him/his)

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