Posted in News on

U.S. Transportation Secretary Announces $57 Million for Laker Line Bus Rapid Transit Project

Laker Line

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget includes $57 million for the construction of Grand Rapids’ Laker Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project. The project is one of 31 transportation projects in 18 states recommended to receive a share of $3.5 billion in federal funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program.

“Since 2009, the Obama Administration has funded nearly 100 new and expanded mass transit projects across the country, including Michigan,” said Secretary Foxx. “These projects transform communities, improving mobility and access to jobs, education and other important opportunities for millions of residents. Public transit is an important ally in the effort to ensure that hard-working Americans are offered a chance to succeed in the 21st-century economy.”

The 13.3-mile Laker Line BRT system would provide service between downtown Grand Rapids and the Grand Valley State University, improving access to jobs and schools, giving a significant boost to West Michigan’s economy. The Laker Line BRT would also serve as a catalyst to support plans for higher density mixed-use and walkable development, including increased student and senior housing and fit with a growing regional emphasis on multimodal transit options.Laker Line rendering of articulated bus traveling in designated lane.

“We are very pleased that the Laker Line is included in the President’s FY17 budget. Of the 32 projects that were considered, not only was the Laker Line chosen for federal investment, but it was one of only three projects to receive the highest rating given in the process, specifically in terms of the project’s cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits,” said The Rapid CEO Peter Varga.

“FTA is proud to partner with communities in Grand Rapids and across the country to bring more transportation options to residents and help accommodate our nation’s growing population,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “This investment in Grand Rapids’ public transportation network will improve the mobility and quality of life for thousands of residents, provide an alternative to traffic congestion, and spur more economically vibrant communities.”

Varga noted the factors that contributed to the Laker Line project’s grant award are the successful implementation and continued progress of the Silver Line. “The Rapid has shown its ability to develop and operate successful BRT service and demonstrate the return on investment the FTA expects when considering new projects. Strong community support, including the partnership with GVSU to provide operating funding for the line once it opens, also weighed heavily in The Rapid’s favor.  Finally, the commitment from the Michigan Department of Transportation to provide the capital funding match needed to secure the grant was instrumental in the project being approved.” said Varga.

FTA’s highly competitive CIG Program is the federal government’s primary grant program for funding major transit capital investments that are locally planned, implemented and operated. It provides funding for investments such as new and expanded heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and streetcar projects. The program includes funding for three categories of eligible projects, as defined by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act: New Starts, Small Starts and Core Capacity.

Funding recommendations for Fiscal Year 2017 include:

-   $1.4 billion for 10 New Starts projects already under construction in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Denver, Orlando, Honolulu, Boston, Charlotte and Portland, with additional funds recommended to accelerate completion of these projects;

-   $950 million for seven New Starts projects not yet under construction in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Ana, National Capital Area in Maryland, Minneapolis, Fort Worth and Seattle;

-   $458 million for 10 Small Starts projects not yet under construction in Tempe, Sacramento, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Kansas City (Missouri), Albuquerque, Everett and Seattle, Washington;

-  $599 million for four Core Capacity projects to improve capacity on existing, heavily used transit lines in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, New York City and Dallas; and

-   $75 million for the Expedited Project Delivery for Capital Investment Grants Pilot Program — a new pilot program outlined in FAST that allows FTA to select up to eight projects seeking 25 percent or less in Federal funding and using a public-private partnership approach.

FTA’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2017 CIG Program, including links to individual project profiles, is available on FTA’s website.

Visit lakerline.org for more information about the Laker Line.

Capital Investment Grand Project Map

Posted in Places to Go on

6 Places to Get Paczki to Celebrate Fat Tuesday

Paczkis on a plate.

Paczki Day, also known as Fat Tuesday, is just around the corner! Fortunately for you, there are several locations throughout The Rapid’s service area where you can get your hands on this tasty polish doughnut. Never heard of this delicious treat? We’ve got the scoop.

Paczki — pronounced as “POONCH-key” or “POUNCH-key”–  are doughy, fried, sweetness filled doughnut-like creations. Some paczki come with jelly fillings like prune or strawberry while others are stuffed with custard. Are you hungry yet?

Here’s a list of paczki locations to help you prepare for Paczki Day on February 9, 2016:

1. Marge’s Donut Den

Since 1975, Marge’s Donut Den has been churning out fantastic baking goods for the Greater Grand Rapids area. Loyal followers say that this bakery has the best baked goods anywhere! We’ll let you be the judge. Grab a paczki or several and let us know what you think.
Location: 1751 28th St. SW, Wyoming, MI 49519
Ride Routes 8 & 28 to get to Marge’s. View stops nearby

2. Nantucket Baking Company

Get your fix for baked goods at this wonderful local baking company! Located at the corner of Lyon and Union on the edge of Heritage Hill, you can find everything from fresh baked bread to pizza. And on Paczki Day you can find fresh creations waiting for you.
Location: 615 Lyon Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Ride Routes 6, 13, 15, 19. View stops nearby.

3. Royal Dutch Bakery

For the Grandville natives out there, you won’t be surprised to learn that Steenstra Royal Dutch Bakery will have paczkis on the menu for you this Fat Tuesday!
Location: 3940 30th St, Grandville, MI 49418
Ride Routes 8, 24, 28. View stops nearby

4. Schnitz Bakery

Baking up delicious treats on Fulton Street, Schnitz is another great option for those seeking to participate in Paczki Day! While you’re there, try a fresh loaf of bread!
Location: 1301 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49426
Ride Routes 14 & 18. View stops nearby

5. Sandy’s Donuts

Sandy’s Donuts is already geared up to make sure they meet the demand for paczki! In fact, you can even order yours today. Flavors include prune, raspberry, blueberry, apple, lemon custard and white (Holland) cream!
Location: 2040 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Ride Route 7. View stops nearby

6. Silverberry Kitchen

Give this European specialty a try on Fat Tuesday! Not only do they have delicious bakery treats, you can also grab coffee, sandwiches, soups, salads and more! They also focus on catering to the allergy-conscious individuals among us.
Location: 4029 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Ride Routes 1, 11, 13. View stops nearby

Plan your paczki pick-up today by visiting our website!

Posted in Rider Stories on

Real Rider – Get on Board with Ken to Explore Grand Rapids

Are you a Real Rider of The Rapid? If you’re interested in being featured as a part of our series, we’d love to hear from you. Submit your story for consideration by clicking the link on the right side of this blog. 

Ken rides the Silver Line bus.

“Transit is important to my life because it keeps it moving.”

Ken is a Grand Rapids native whose recently returned to the area after time spent in other cities. He’s been riding the bus since middle school when The Rapid’s predecessor The Grand Rapids Area Transportation Authority (GRATA) was keeping the city moving. Owning a car really isn’t something Ken prefers. For him, riding the bus has offered him an opportunity to get out and explore the city and spend more time enjoying music and podcasts. One of his favorite aspects of riding The Rapid is being surrounded by people and really enjoying his surroundings.

Owning a car really isn’t something Ken prefers. For him, riding the bus has created an opportunity to explore the city and spend more time enjoying music and podcasts. One of his favorite aspects of riding The Rapid is being surrounded by people and taking in his surroundings. Ken was also surprised by how easy it is to sneak in more exercise. He shares how getting on board more has actually contributed to more walking.

Ken even compares his experiences with riding public transit in Peru to using the Silver Line.

Learn more about why Ken gets on board and what he loves about Grand Rapids:

Why do you get on board?

Posted in News on

New Study: BRT Spurs Real Estate and Job Benefits

Silver Line travels down Grandville Avenue

A new peer-reviewed study examining existing bus rapid transit (BRT) lines and found strong evidence that BRT systems in the U.S. generate economic development, attract jobs, retail and affordable housing–all with a more affordable price tag than rail.

Published by Arthur C. Nelson of the University of Arizona and released by Transportation for America, the new study finds that BRT lines can indeed shape real estate and attract jobs. BRT is on the rise across the country as a reliable and cost-effective transportation option. We launched the Silver Line, Grand Rapids’ first bus BRT  line, in 2014, and the Laker Line BRT is currently in the planning phase with a launch date expected in 2018.

Here are a few study findings:

BRT encourages new office growth. Areas within a half-mile of BRT corridors increased their share of new office space by one-third from 2000-2007, and new multifamily apartment construction doubled in those half-mile areas since 2008. For most areas studied, there was a rent premium for office space within a BRT corridor.

BRT corridors draw in “nontraditional” manufacturing. A noted surprising aspect of this study was that the manufacturing industry seems to be drawn to BRT corridors. Cleveland’s Healthline BRT has seen microbreweries setting up show in the corridor.

BRT corridors fared better than other areas after the recession. During the economic recovery following the 2008 recession, these corridors also increased their share of office space by one-third, and more higher-wage job growth occurred near BRT stations than occurred in central counties. During the economic recovery, BRT station areas saw the largest positive shift in the share of upper-wage jobs, and employment in the manufacturing sector increased.

The study was published by the National Institute of Transportation and Communities at Portland State University and was funded partially through a grant from Transportation for America. Dr. Nelson, who began the study at the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center, is currently Professor of Planning & Real Estate Development at the University of Arizona.

 

Bus rapid transit coming soon graphic map

 

Posted in In The Community on

Dancing on The Rapid

 Dancer performs on The Rapid bus.

For those seeking a unique art experience, we have the perfect exhibit for you.

A Gallery Exhibition of New Works in Screendance will be showing at the UICA until January 17. Local artists Amy Wilson of Dance in the Annex, Erin Wilson of ArtPeers, as well as local actors, dancers, organizations like SideCare Studios joined to create a collection of three dance films. The Rapid worked in partnership with these wonderful organizations in the production of one of the featured films, As In Life.

Created entirely on a 40 foot Rapid fixed-route bus traveling in downtown Grand Rapids, As In Life  offers a shining and unusual take on riding public transportation. We were thrilled to work closely with this talented group of creatives. Don’t miss the finished piece!

Dancer riding The Rapid.

“The environment became a part of the film, it was the same in the other films, especially the bus where we spent 15 hours filming,” says Amy Wilson says of the “As in Life” filming process. “It was almost like the bus became another dancer; the way the bus moved dictated how we moved.”

View the trailer and visit www.uica.org for hours. UICA is located near Rapid Routes 1, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15 and the Silver Line.

 

Posted in News on

The Rapid & Friends Celebrate Route 28

Get on board Route 28 to Cascade Township!

On Monday, January 11, 2016, The Rapid hosted a celebration at the new Mary Free Bed YMCA featuring representatives from Cascade Township,  Mary Free Bed, and Teleperformance USA to recognize their efforts to extend Rapid Route 28 east into Cascade Township.

Speaking at the event were community stakeholders including Rob Beahan of Cascade Township, Maria Besta of Mary Free Bed, Dot Tissue of Teleperformance USA, Andy Page of the Mary Free Bed YMCA, and Peter Varga of The Rapid. Each shared their thoughts about the economic and community impact that the new service extension will have on area residents and employers.

The Cascade Township Board approved a three-year trial of a bus service extension on 28th Street in October 2015, which will cost approximately $400,000 annually. The extension of Route 28 will give passengers direct access to the Cascade Meijer location, Walmart, and the newly opened Mary Free Bed YMCA. Route 28 now extends into Cascade Township via 28th Street to the Cascade Center just across Cascade Road Drive with a loop down Patterson to Burton and Kraft. The new service will run every half hour on weekdays, and every hour on Saturdays and Sundays.

“We are currently in the process of hiring 100 new employees, several of which are disabled and/or didn’t have reliable transportation,” she said.  “Having the bus line extension has opened so many doors, not just for Teleperformance USA, but for the community as a whole, ” said Dot Tissue, Human Resource Manager at Teleperformance USA in regard to the opportunities the new bus extension will bring to current and future employees.

Expanding service to Cascade Township also opens the door to GO!Bus ADA paratransit service for the area. This shared ride, advanced reservation mobility option will be an important piece of transportation for those seeking to travel to Cascade Township destinations.

“The new Rapid bus route is making it possible for those we serve through Mary Free Bed to have opportunities and independence.  To be able to independently use public transportation instead of relying on others opens so many doors to our participants and wheelchair athletes by offering the same endless possibilities as their peers,” Mary Besta said.

Have you had a chance to ride Route 28 into Cascade Township?

Dot Tissue of Teleperformance USA speaking about the importance of public transportation on local jobs.

Posted in In The Community on

7 Reasons To Ride The Bus More in 2016

A couple standing at a bus stop waiting for The Rapid bus.

New year, new you, right? With 2016 almost here, you may be searching for something meaningful to stick to in the year to come. Here’s one goal we think you should try on for size: riding the bus more.

OK — We may be a little biased, but hear us out. Getting on board the bus is the perfect all-encompassing goal for knocking out some other common new year’s resolutions. Whether you’re looking to get more exercise or to make more time for yourself in 2016, riding the bus can help!

Here are seven reasons to ride the bus more in 2016:

1. Squeeze in more reading.

Riding the bus means more time to catch up on your reading list. Instead of battling traffic in your car, get on board to add some extra reading time into your busy schedule. You can even ride with us to several library locations and local bookstores like Bombadil Books (located off of Routes 1, 2, 3 & 5) to keep your library stocked!

2. Get more steps into your daily exercise routine.

Did you know that public transit riders get more than three times the amount of physical activity per day than non-riders? If getting in shape is in your plans for the new year, riding the bus is a simple way to fit more walking into your daily routine. Start by using our “Nearest Stop” tool to see bus stops nearby: http://ridetherapid.org.

3. Save more money.

Gas prices may be low, but for less than $50 you can ride The Rapid as many times as you want for 31 days. Riding the bus offers a cheaper transportation alternative to driving, and it may just make you rethink your spending habits in the process.

4. Meet new people.

Seeking to expand your social circles in 2016? Riding the bus offers a chance to meet new people in your community. Maybe you’ll get to know your neighbor better, gain a new friend, or meet someone that inspires you in the community.

5. Reduce the stress of your work commute.

Sick of fighting traffic and the general stress that comes from your daily commute? Let the bus be your beacon for finding stress relief. Let us worry about getting you where you need to go safely and efficiently. Getting on board in the winter can be a perfect way to ease stress and get a feel for riding the bus more.

6. Make time for yourself.

Sometimes taking a little time for yourself can be just what you need in your day. When you ride the bus you have time to enjoy a podcast, listen to your favorite musicians, do some work, or even reflect on the day ahead.

7. Explore your community.

Riding the bus (literally) offers you a window to your community. While you’re traveling to your destination you have a chance to enjoy your surroundings, which often leads to finding new businesses and locations to visit. Getting on board the bus may mean trying a new restaurant or visiting a new local shop in your neighborhood.

Do you plan to ride the bus more in 2016?

Posted in News on

Route 28 Extension Begins on January 11, 2016

On January 11, 2016, Route 28 will begin servicing Cascade Township.

The Cascade Township Board approved a three-year trial of a bus service extension on 28th Street in October. The extension of Route 28 will allow passengers to have direct access to the Cascade Meijer location, Walmart, and the newly opened Mary Free Bed YMCA.

Here’s the new route schedule beginning on January 11, 2016:

 

Posted in Events on

Calling all Grand Rapids Job Seekers

Bus operator driving a Rapid bus.

The Rapid is seeking exceptional candidates that excel in customer service to attend a job fair on Saturday,  December 19 from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. at Rapid Central Station located at 250 Grandville Ave. SW on the second floor in the Community Room. We are currently seeking to fill positions for an Information Center Representative, Fare Enforcement Officer, Transportation Superintendent, and part-time Bus Operators.

We offer competitive pay, great benefits, and the opportunity to work with a group of people who take pleasure and pride in making an important difference in the lives of others.

Individuals interested in applying for our Bus Operator positions do not need a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), as The Rapid will train those selected to obtain their CDL  during an 8-week paid instruction course. Bus Operator applicants must have an excellent driving record with preferably no more than 2 points.  More than 4 points will disqualify an applicant from consideration. Our extensive background checks include criminal and driving records and employment history.  It is required that a bus operator speak, understand, read, and write English so they can communicate with Rapid customers.  It is also required that a driver is capable of lifting enough to assist physically challenged customers.  In order to be successful, bus operators must have extremely good attendance and adhere to all driving and safety policies.

You must bring your current Michigan driver’s license in order to fill out an application and plan on thirty to forty minutes to complete the application.  It also helps to bring current and past employer information such as addresses and phone numbers.  Applications that are not completely filled out will not be considered. The Rapid is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

To learn more about all of the available positions prior to attending The Rapid Job Fair, please visit our website. 

Posted in News on

Driving Holiday Cheer

Ride The Rapid and Spot the Santa Hat

Riding the Rapid just became a little bit more festive this season! From December 12-24, some of our bus operators will don Santa hats as they get you to all of your holiday destinations.

Be sure to snap a photo of your favorite holiday bus operator wearing their Santa hat and post it to our Facebook timeline. Your post will enter you into a contest to win a 31-Day Pass! The more holiday hat posts we receive, the more 31-Day Passes we will give away! Help us spread some holiday cheer this season and sharing the smiling face of your bus operator with us.

Happy Holidays!