Posted in CEO Insight on

Talking Transit with The Rapid’s CEO Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson of The Rapid

Recently, Corp! Magazine, spoke with The Rapid’s CEO Andrew Johnson and the regarding mobility in Michigan. Take a journey inside the Grand Rapids area transit authority to find out what Johnson is working on in his new role.

Here’s what he shared:

Corp!: Looking back on 2018 what success story stands out?
Andrew Johnson: I started in August, but prior to my tenure, The Rapid was able to get the capital investment grant released by the federal government to get the Laker Line funded. At the end of 2018, we received a $696,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration as part of a new $945,000 effort to plan for development along the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit route, focusing on the Division Avenue corridor from Wealthy to 60th streets. The Silver Line is Michigan’s first bus rapid transit route.

Corp!: When speaking to business leaders, how do you make the case for the value of public transit?
AJ: The model that we currently have, and have had for many years, where we build large parking lots/ramps where everyone drives into work and drives home, is an antiquated model. We need to find new ways for employees to get to work. We want to give people choices, to get more and better-qualified employees to work sites and to meet the needs of the new generation of employees who don’t want to own a car. We want to work with employers to find a way to offer good transportation to their employees and their business.

Corp!: How does your system support businesses, employment and economic development?
AJ: Last year, we unveiled Route 19, a partnership between The Rapid, Grand Rapids and Spectrum Health. Spectrum wanted to know how to get larger numbers of employees in and out of their facility. We created a route that serves remote parking lots, Spectrum and facilities along the Medical Mile. Route 19 is a completely different version of the route that existed before. It was serving about 54 people a day. Now it’s serving 1,100 people, primarily employees getting to and from work.

Corp!: As autonomous vehicles, rideshare services and mini-mobility are all developing, what do you think the future holds for public transportation?
AJ: Public transportation is in a great state of change. At The Rapid, we are shifting from public transportation to mobility coordination. Really, my vision for the organization is not to simply be buses and paratransit vans. We want to be a provider of mobility outcomes. With the state of disruption in the transportation area, there are new options popping up all the time and we have to integrate new choices for people.

Corp!: What is your guiding principle to live by?
AJ: My guiding principle really is to be fair, to treat people well and to serve. What I do benefits the community and people around me and that’s why I do what I do.

Corp!: What is the biggest management myth?
AJ: Delaying anything because everything is not perfect is not in the interest of the community. You have to be realistic with the resources you have available to get the best result.

Corp!: What is the most important lesson you have learned in business?
AJ: No matter how great the challenge seems, there is a way to resolve it. Getting too upset about things is not the best course of action. I didn’t always understand that early in my career.

Corp!: What is your pet peeve in the office?
AJ: Not being informed of things on a timely basis. I can handle bad news without too much trouble, but I don’t like surprises.

Corp!: Who is the most interesting person you’d like to meet and why?
AJ: Rosa Parks is very interesting to me, because of her impact on public transportation

View the full article here.

Posted in News on

Join Us April 25, 2019 for National Get on Board Day

Get on Board for Public Transit

Get on Board Day is a new national advocacy day that is all about generating awareness of and increasing support for public transportation.

The Rapid is partnering with organizations to have bus pop-ups throughout the Greater Grand Rapids area. The goal is to spread bus love and teach individuals of all ages and abilities on how to ride the bus!

On April 25, 2019, we will be visiting locations throughout our six-city service area to quickly teach individuals how to ride the bus!

Visit us at the following locations for a quick training on how to ride the bus like a pro, a chance to win prizes, and a free, pre-loaded Wave card.

  • – 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. at Goodwill Industries,  870 28th St SW, Wyoming, MI 49509
  • – 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Kent District Library, 4293 Remembrance Rd NW, Walker, MI 49534
  • – 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. – United States Postal Service in Eastown, 1451 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
  • – 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. – Family Fare, 2755 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • – 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. – Kent District Library, 4950 Breton Rd SE, Kentwood, MI 49508
  • – 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. – West Grand Neighborhood Organization, 415 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • – 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Schuler Books, 2660 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
  • – 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. – Wyoming Senior Center, 2380 De Hoop Ave, Wyoming, MI 49509

Mark your calendars! We’ll see you on board.

Posted in Places to Go on

Ride The Rapid to Events Throughout April 2019

April 2019 Event Guide for The Rapid

Spring has sprung! Use the change in seasons as the perfect excuse to explore the Greater Grand Rapids area. There’s no shortage of family fun to embark on.

Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival

Shorts, features and other entertainment awaits you at the 9th annual Grand Rapids Latin American Festival (GRLAFF). This event is held at the Wealthy Theatre on Apr. 5, 6, and 7. Get tickets and see the full schedule here: https://www.grlaff.org/2019-festival

West Michigan Pet Expo

The DeltaPlex is hosting the West Michigan Pet Expo this Apr. 6 and 7!  Find your future furbaby and enjoy pet entertainers, vendors, and more family fun. Get tickets in advance: http://deltaplex.com/event/west-michigan-pet-expo/

Yoga at The GRAM

Relax and let Yoga at The GRAM melt your winter blues away. On select Thursday evenings, enjoy a Vinyasa-style yoga class thanks to the generous support for Priority Health. These classes are donation-based. The next class will take place on April 18th. 

Mahler’s Symphony No. 3

Don’t miss the Grand Rapids Symphony performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 at the DeVos Performance Hall. Get tickets to the April 12 or April 13 performance. This concert will feature the Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung as the featured vocalist. Get your tickets here.

Meaty Monday at The Downtown Market

Hungry? Grab your friends and head over to the Downtown Market for Meaty Monday on April 29. This event will have meat-inspired specials from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. You won’t want to miss it.

Superhero Day at The John Ball Zoo

On Saturday, April 13, you can fly into the John Ball Zoo dressed as your favorite superhero! All activities are included with your admission.

Enchanted Spring Party with Mermaids and Unicorns at Woodland Mall

Have you ever wanted to meet a real mermaid? Now is your chance! Woodland Mall is celebrating Easter early with giveaways, unicorns, the Easter bunny, and a real mermaid. On Saturday, April 13, you can bring the whole family to the event from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

James And The Giant Peach at Civic Theatre

Do you remember this childhood classic? On Friday, April 26, you can see it live at the Civic Theatre. Tickets are on sale now for the last week of April.

Plan your trip at ridetherapid.org

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Construction Begins on the Laker Line BRT, Scheduled to Open in August 2020

GVSU Pew Campus Transit Plaza

The Laker Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line will begin construction on April 1, 2019, as The Rapid prepares for service beginning in August 2020. The Laker Line BRT is the second BRT line for The Rapid, which opened the Silver Line BRT in August of 2014. Fulton & Valley Eastbound Laker Line Station

The Laker Line, which will replace The Rapid’s current Route 50 – GVSU Campus Connector, will connect the Grand Valley State University Allendale campus to the Michigan Street Medical Mile with stops on Lake Michigan Drive. The Laker Line will serve the City of Walker, through West Fulton St., and into downtown Grand Rapids.

Planning for the Laker Line began in August 2013, and generated significant public support. The project received a favorable rating from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) competitive grant program for building enhanced transit. Funding for the project was received in January 2018 to finalize design and engineering. Construction will begin today and conclude in August 2020.

The Rapid staff and their construction partner, The Christman Company, will be working with area businesses to educate the public on the benefits of BRT, as well as the construction schedule and traffic impacts.

Similar to the Silver Line’s, the Laker Line platforms will provide well-lit shelters with level platform boarding, off-board fare collecting, real-time arrival signage, and security phones and cameras. The Laker Line will share three existing downtown Silver Line stations, helping riders make connections to other routes. Additionally, Laker Line buses will be 60’ articulated “accordion-style” vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). Each bus will be large enough to carry 90 passengers comfortably.

“We’re thrilled to be moving forward with the Laker Line project and to break ground on the second BRT line in Michigan,” said Andrew Johnson, CEO of The Rapid. “The Laker Line will provide a faster connection from GVSU to downtown Grand Rapids, and improve access for residents and businesses throughout The Rapid’s service area.”

The Laker Line is funded through support from the FTA and the State of Michigan. Grand Valley State University provides operational support.

More information on this project can be found at lakerline.org, which includes images of the new stations, a route map, and a full construction schedule.

Posted in Events on

Transit Team Appreciation Day 2019

Transit Team Appreciation Day

National Transit Driver Appreciation Day is Monday, March 18, 2019. We’re taking this day of appreciation to the next level by encouraging the celebration of the entire transit team powering The Rapid. We’re calling it Transit Team Appreciation Day.

While Bus Operators may be the hands on the wheel ensuring your bus makes it safely to your destination, there are Technicians keeping the bus running smoothly, Dispatchers guiding your Bus Operator and a team of administrative employees ensuring The Rapid continues to roll each day. As a whole, The Rapid’s transit team keeps the Greater Grand Rapids community accessible for all.

While we hope you’re thanking your Bus Operator every day. Join us in celebrating Transit Team Appreciation Day by thanking your Bus Operator or another transit team member on March 18th. Here are a few ways you can spread the love and support the work of your local transit team:

Thank The Transit Team on Social Media

Beginning on Monday, March 18, we’re asking you to post why you’re thankful for your bus driver or share a positive story about your favorite driver with #BDADGR on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Those who post will be entered into a drawing to win a 31-Pass and Biggby prize package. If the post is made on your own page, the post must be public to be counted in the pass drawing. Please post your gratitude by 12 a.m. on March 19 to be entered to win.

Print and Sign a Transit Team Appreciation Day Card

While simply saying thank you can brighten anyone’s day, you might consider doing something extra special for your Rapid bus driver. If you’re looking for something more personal, considering signing and printing the Transit Driver Appreciation Day cards to pass out to your favorite bus driver or drivers. Bus Driver Appreciation Day cards will also be available to pick up at Rapid Central Station’s Information Center beginning on Friday, March 15.

DOWNLOAD & PRINT: Bus Driver Appreciation Day Thank You Card

Submit a Compliment

Commend your favorite bus operator or transit team member by submitting a General Comment here or through our information line at 616-776-1100. This will be passed along and recognition will be given!

Posted in News on

Women of The Rapid

Women of The Rapid

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the hardworking, dedicated women who keep the Greater Grand Rapids community moving through a portrait series. These women are the friendly smile when boarding the bus, the voice on the radio helping to navigate an emergency detour, and the hands on the wheel.  The Rapid’s Transportation team is made up of women serving as Bus Operators, Dispatchers, and Transportation Supervisors. But these women are more than just their job titles. They are assets to our community as mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, daughters, small business owners, volunteers, and so much more.

Women’s History Month is the annual declared month highlighting the contribution of women to events in history. In the United States, the history of this month can be traced back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911.

The Rapid has partnered with Women’s Lifestyle Magazine to share the portraits and words of the outstanding women that make up our team. Follow Women’s Lifestyle Magazine on Instagram to view all of the portraits: https://www.instagram.com/womenslifestylegr/

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Bus Operator of the Month: February 2019

Bus Operator of the Month

Each month, we honor a Rapid Bus Operator for going above and beyond in their work. The winners are nominated by their peers and awarded by the Transportation Department for their hard work and dedication.

Our Bus Operator of February 2019 is Kendra T.! Here’s what she had to share with us:

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED AT THE RAPID?

7 years

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR JOB AS A BUS OPERATOR AT THE RAPID?

I enjoy the constant movement of being out around the city. I enjoy meeting new people every day.

WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?

I’m passionate about my family. My husband and I have eight children together. As a family, we enjoy camping, traveling and experiencing new adventures together.

Kendra T. Bus Operator

Keep up the good work, Kendra!

Posted in Places to Go on

Ride The Rapid to Events Throughout March 2019

March 2019 Events

Spring is just around the corner. Spend your last few days of winter enjoying these events in and around Grand Rapids.

West Michigan Home & Garden Show

Whether you’re looking for home improvement ideas, or just a weekend out of the house the Home & Garden Show will have something for you. Held at the Devos Place from Feb. 28 – March 3, this show features garden demos and exhibitions of all kinds. Adult admission is $10 online and $12 at the door. Multi-day tickets can be purchased for $18 online.

Beer Month GR

Save the craft during Beer Month GR! This month-long celebration runs until March 15.  Choose from a variety of deals at various bars and breweries in Grand Rapids. You can ride The Rapid to many of these events. For more information, please visit: https://www.experiencegr.com/beer-month/

LaughFest

Gilda’s LaughFest is back in Grand Rapids from March  7 – March 17. This 10-day event features a variety of stand up comedians, improv comedy, and more! Plan your next night out with the full list of funny stuff here: https://www.laughfestgr.org/

Monster Jam: Triple Threat Series

Are you ready for a rush of adrenaline and family fun? Head to Van Andel Arena for an evening of Monster Trucks with Monster Jam: Triple Threat Series. Tickets are available for March 22 – March 24. 

Grand Rapids Drive

Head to the DeltaPlex for a night of basketball with your Grand Rapids Drive players. There are games throughout March, so don’t miss any of the action. Tickets range in price from $5 to $75.

Irish On Ionia

Michigan’s largest St. Patrick’s Day street party is back for its ninth year! Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 16 for Irish on Ionia. Beer, live music and traditional Irish fare are just a few of the main attractions. Tickets range in price from $20-65.

Grand Rapids Symphony – Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl

Your favorite pirate crew comes alive on screen with the sounds of the Grand Rapids Symphony. Bring your family and friends to this evening of swashbuckling fun at DeVos Performance Hall from March 8 – 10. Tickets are  $18 for adults and $5 for students.

Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey

Catch the latest Griffins match this month. Don’t wait to get the best seats in the house. As always, you can ride for free to and from Friday home games by showing your game tickets to your bus operator. View the schedule and buy tickets here: https://griffinshockey.com/tickets

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Bus Operator of the Month: January 2019

Bus Operator of The Month

Each month, we have the opportunity of honoring a Rapid Bus Operator who has gone above and beyond in their job to keep the community moving. These bus operators are nominated by their peers and awarded by the Transportation Department for their hard work and dedication.

Our Bus Operator of January 2019 is LaCheree T! Here’s what she had to share with us:

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED AT THE RAPID?

March will mark my two years at The Rapid.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR JOB AS A BUS OPERATOR AT THE RAPID?

I like meeting new people and making sure they get to their destination safely and in a timely manner.

WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?

I enjoy shopping, traveling, cooking and spending time with my friends and family. I really love watching the Lifetime Movie Network!

Lacheree Bus Operator

Congratulations, LaCheree! Thank you for all you do.

Posted in In The Community on

Highlighting Grand Rapids Community Support During Power Outages

Villa Maria Evacuation Photo

Our recent winter weather events have left us feeling especially proud of Grand Rapids, the city we call home. Watching the community step up to care for those in need is something we’d be remiss not to echo our appreciation for.

Last Friday more than 100,000 Kent County residents were without power. Officials at the City of Grand Rapids’ Emergency Operations Center (EOC) asked for help evacuating the Villa Maria retirement community. The Rapid’s Bus Operators answered the call with warm buses and warm hearts. The seniors were taken to a Red Cross shelter at GRPS’ Union High School where they’d be able to access warmth and food. Fifty to one hundred seniors ultimately made the trip on four of The Rapid’s buses, assisted by family, community members, GRPD, and others.

Thank you to our community’s tireless first responders for caring for those in need.