Fresno County council looks at creating bus links to national parks. It’s been more than a decade since the old Fresno Air Terminal was rebranded Fresno Yosemite International Airport. The idea was to beef up the airport’s marketing cachet by trading on the name of the nearby national park. But just try getting from one to the other.
“I’ve gotten a few phone calls over the years — people asking how you get from Amtrak up to Yosemite, how do you get from the airport up to Yosemite,” said John Downs, senior planner for the Council of Fresno County Governments and planning division manager for the city’s FAX bus system.
Now, the council is preparing to select a consultant to study the market for that kind of transportation service between Fresno and Yosemite to the north as well as Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks to the east.
Downs said the $50,000 study also could look at connecting the parks with other venues, such as major hotels and casinos along the route.
Fresno Air Terminal was renamed Fresno Yosemite International Airport in a nod to the national park. Now, the Council of Fresno County Governments is considering a transportation service between Fresno and nearby national parks.
A similar service already connects Yosemite to Amtrak from Merced. Also, in summer months an Amtrak coach service runs between Sequoia and Visalia, where Amtrak buses connect to the train station in Hanford.
“The big glaring missing piece in this is Fresno and Oakhurst,” said Craig Scharton, director of Fresno’s Downtown and Community Revitalization Department.
“I think it’s a natural,” Scharton said. “The fact that other people are doing it should motivate us.”
The idea for the study was hatched after expressions of interest from members of the boards of supervisors in Madera and Fresno counties, said Tony Boren, the council’s executive director.
Boren described it as an outgrowth of a regional effort in the mid-1990s that led to establishment of the Merced service.
Moreover, he said, it helps promote long-term regional goals that call for less driving to help reduce congestion and control air pollution.
“We’re always trying to get people out of their cars and into alternate forms of transportation,” he said.