Deep in California’s Central Valley, the small City of Visalia took a big step when it started its Visalia-Fresno Shuttle Project in November 2015. The five-stop “V-line,” part of the Visalia Transit system, has a stop for everyone – students headed to Fresno State University, travelers bound for Fresno Yosemite International Airport, even visitors off to see Fresno’s leafy Courthouse Park.
Operating six round trips daily, seven days a week, the CNG-powered shuttles provide disadvantaged communities and area residents with greater access to centralized employment, airports and education. Ridership jumped from less than two hundred during the first month to nearly 1,200 in April, with an estimated 13,300 climbing on board per year. Average trip length is 39 miles each way, equating to nearly 520,000 trip-miles annually.
Those who take advantage of the V-line will ride in style, since each 20-passenger shuttle features comfortable seats, free Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, storage racks, and can accommodate two wheelchairs per trip. The cost is $10 each way, $9 for students, seniors, the disabled, and veterans. During its first year, Fresno State University paid the cost of round trips for its students and employees.
When the V-line’s ribbon was cut, and the Visalia Rawhide (minor league farm team to the Arizona Diamondbacks) sent their mascot, Tipper the Cow, to meet Fresno State’s Bulldog mascot, TimeOut, it was the culmination of a vision of greater connectivity and accessibility.
"We are excited to finally see the V-Line shuttle route meet the needs of many students, airline passengers and others, while improving air quality, transportation choices, and overall quality of life for many here in the south San Joaquin Valley,” said Monty Cox, Visalia’s former transit manager. With the City projecting annual ridership to ultimately surpass 16,000 passengers per year, it looks like the vision is becoming reality. "