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Motivational Monday: Kids’ Food Basket

Kids' Food Basket

Did you know? One in five Michigan kids is affected by hunger. Kent County alone has 28,700 children that are considered “food insecure.” Kids’ Food Basket is leading the way to ensure that kids in our community don’t miss any meals.

Each and every weekday Kids’ Food Basket and their many volunteers are serving children across West Michigan with healthy sack suppers.

In fact, this non-profit is poised for growth and doing so much good that they’ve recently purchased land for a move to a larger facility. One crucial factor that impacted the location is public transportation access. On average, Kids’ Food Basket’s has about 175 volunteers per day and many of them ride the bus to get to their shifts.

Find out how Kids’ Food Basket and their wonderful team of volunteers are making a difference in a child’s life.

Feeling motivated to help make a difference in your community?  Kids’ Food Basket has locations in Grand Rapids, Holland and Muskegon. For more information on volunteer opportunists and more, visit kidsfoodbasket.org.

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The Rapid Ratifies New Labor Agreement with Bus Operators and Maintenance Workers

Rapid Central Station

On December 9, 2017, The Rapid Board announced it had reached agreement on a new three-year contract with the labor union representing the public transportation system’s bus operators and maintenance workers.

The Rapid Board of Directors ratified the agreement during their monthly meeting this morning. That ratification followed the acceptance of the proposed agreement by voting members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836 (ATUGR) on Thursday, December 7.

“This is a positive outcome for our workers and the taxpayers in our partner communities,” said Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid. “We have worked hard to craft a contract that is beneficial to our employees, maintains an outstanding level of service to our customers and continues The Rapid’s legacy of responsible fiscal stewardship.”

The contract includes a three percent pay raise for all bus operators and a three and a half percent raise for all maintenance employees in the first year of the agreement. Both groups will receive annual increases of two percent in the following two years of the contract. The Rapid will also pay 80 percent of all health insurance premiums for union workers and will establish a new defined contribution retirement plan. The retirement plan will replace the existing pension plan and will establish a sustainable fiscal approach for the workers’ retirement fund and the transit organization.

“We are very pleased that our dedicated employees will receive these increased wage and benefit contributions and have the peace of mind that comes with having a ratified contract,” said The Rapid’s Board Chair Barbara Holt. “We value their hard work and recognize the important role these workers play in the delivery of public transportation services to the Grand Rapids area.”

The previous labor agreement expired in July 2015. The new contract will take effect upon final execution of the agreement between both parties.

You can review the full Rapid Board Agenda here.

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Give the Gift of Transit

Give The Gift Of Transit

Hunting down the perfect gift for everyone on your list this season doesn’t have to be a hassle. We have something that your co-workers, friends and family members will love. Transit is the gift that keeps on giving!

The Rapid offers a number of different fare types and purchase options to best meet your needs when using the fixed-route system or GO!Bus. Whether it’s a 31-Day Pass or just a 10-Ride Ticket, transit makes a suitable gift for everyone on your list.

Tickets & Passes

  • 10-Ride Ticket – $13.50
  • 31-Day Pass – $47.00
  • 7-Day Pass $ 16.00
  • 1-Day Pass $3.50

Day passes offer unlimited rides within the timeframe after activated upon first use. While the 10-Ride Ticket is a great option for less frequent riders to keep on hand for transit access when it’s most convenient for them.

Where To Purchase

You can purchase your gift of transit online, on board The Rapid, at the Information Center at Rapid Central Station or at ticket vending machines at Silver Line Stations and Rapid Central Station. A variety of retail outlets also offer Rapid tickets including Meijer, D&W Fresh Markets and Family Fare. You can pick one up while you’re out doing your other holiday shopping.

Gifting Ideas

Bus passes make fantastic stocking stuffers, and they also pair well with offer gifts. Consider purchasing a bus pass to accompany event tickets or restaurant gift cards. You can also pair a bus pass with a reusable shopping tote or umbrella. If you’re looking to go above and beyond for someone you love, you can also purchase an entire year’s worth of transit in advance with just 12 bus passes.

Giving Back

For those who enjoy giving back during the holiday season, many local non-profits accept Rapid bus passes. For instance, the Women’s Resource Center, Mel Trotter Ministries, YWCA of West Central Michigan and HQ.

The gift of transit comes with numerous benefits. Riding The Rapid reduces congestion and improves air quality, creates economic vitality for our region, makes our community a better place to live, work and play — and it helps save you money. Check out our helpful fuel savings calculator to find out just how much you can save riding transit.

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Transit-Friendly Events to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Transit-Friendly Holiday Events

Don’t let the unseasonable weather fool you. The holiday season is upon us!

Get in a festive mood by partaking in all the holiday events that the Greater Grand Rapids area has to offer. There’s something in store for everyone! Whether you’re hoping to find the perfect gift for a loved one or bringing your little ones to see Santa, there’s no shortage of activities this time of year. The best part is that many of these holiday festivities are transit-friendly, which only adds to the magic of the holiday season.

Ride with us to these December events:

Winter Wonderland at the Downtown Market

On Dec. 7, ride The Rapid or DASH to experience the magic of the season! The Market Hall will be featuring special offers, delicious food and beverage demos, as well as Santa awaiting your wish list in the greenhouse. During this event, you can also visit the Holiday Artisan Market featuring a variety of vendors. Winter Wonderland is a free, family-friendly event.

Routes 1, 2, 5 and the Silver Line can get you there.

Holiday Shop Hop

The Uptown Holiday Shop Hop is back on Dec. 7! In its 20th year, this annual event will ensure everyone on your holiday shopping list gets a present. Ride The Rapid to get to one of Uptown’s districts and then use the Shop Hop shuttles to travel around to visit more than 150 participating businesses. Don’t forget warm clothes and your reusable shopping totes! This event is free to attend and fun for everyone seeking to explore, shop and snack.

Routes 4, 5, 6, 14 can get you to Uptown.

The Yule Ball at 20 Monroe Live

Grand Rapids’ first-ever Yule Ball is taking place this year at 20 Monroe Live on Dec. 7. Gather with other Harry Potter fans to enjoy musical performances by Joe Hertler and The Rainbow Seekers, photobooths, a Horcrux hunt, live owls and more. This is a 21+ event and tickets are $20.

Routes 1, 4, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15 and more can get you there.

Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Parade at Kentwood Public Library

Ride with us to Kentwood to get in the spirit of the season with a tree lighting and holiday parade! This event takes place from 6-8 p.m. on Dec. 8 and features hayrides, hot chocolate, cookies, live music, caroling and a special visitor from the North Pole. This is a free, family-friendly event.

Ride Routes 2 and 44 to get to the Kentwood Public Library.

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker at DeVos Performance Hall is a magical experience you won’t want to miss. This performance features live music from the Grand Rapids Symphony and ballet from Grand Rapids Ballet. Get tickets for performances on Dec. 8-10.

Routes SL, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

Photos with Santa at Woodland Mall

Every day leading up to Christmas you can visit Woodland Mall to meet Santa! You can even plan ahead and book your visit with Santa to avoid the lines. Make the most out of this adventure by riding The Rapid to bring your children to see Santa.

Routes 5, 6, 17, 24, 28 and 44 can get you to Woodland Mall.

Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops

Ring in the holiday cheer from Dec. 15 – 17 with heartwarming, seasonal favorites like Sleigh Ride and Twas the Night Before Christmas. This family-friendly event is perfect for those seeking to sing along and enjoy the season. Individual tickets are $18 and student tickets are $5. This concert takes place at DeVos Performance Hall.
Routes SL, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle

Grab your ice skates and ride The Rapid to Downtown Grand Rapids for a skate around Rosa Parks Circle. You can even purchase a season pass for just $50 for adults and $20 for youth.

Routes 6, 9, 11, 13, 50 and the Silver Line can get you to Rosa Parks Circle.

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Motivational Monday: Women’s Resource Center

Women's Resource Center

Get motivated today to make an impact on your community! We’re partnering with FOX 17 to bring you a new segment that features local organizations, businesses and stories of good things happening throughout the Greater Grand Rapids area. It’s our hope that we can inspire more good to take place.

This past week, we featured an organization that’s empowering women in the community and giving them vital resources. The Women’s Resource Center advocates for women to achieve economic independence through meaningful employment. Through the Women’s Resource Center, gain access to tools to better their lives. From giving employment and personal advice to helping them put together a resume, to outfitting women for an interview, there are a variety of important programs available.

The Women’s Resource Center is located at 678 Front Avenue NW. Learn more about what this wonderful organization has to offer:

One easy way to make an impact through the Women’s Resource Center is by donating bus passes!

For more information about these services or to learn how you can get involved, call (616)-458-5443 or visit GRWRC.org.

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Smart Tips for Safer Winter Bus Riding

Don’t let a little snow and ice stand in the way of your bus ride. Winter may not officially be here yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start preparing for your winter bus travel. As you ride the bus this winter, here are a few smart habits to practice for a safer bus ride.

Bus riding tips for winter months
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Motivational Mondays: Alzheimer’s Association

Alzheimer's Association: A world without Alzheimer's Disease

November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. This disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and more than 180,000 people in Michigan have the disease.

In our new partnership with FOX 17, we’re featuring organizations and stories to motivate you to make our community a better place. Last week, we featured The Greater Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s is a journey that many families across the nation face, yet feel so alone. The Alzheimer’s Association knows what those families are going through, and provide so many resources to help out families going through this difficult time. Their mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research to provide and enhance care and support for all affected and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

Not only does the Alzheimer’s Associations provide families with endless resources, they also have committed volunteers who help those affected in any way by Alzheimer’s get to support groups or even special cafes for those dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s main office is located at 2944 Fuller Avenue North East in suite 101. Not only is their office located right along The Rapid’s routes, they also have two Memory Cafés and twelve support groups within a five-minute walk of a Rapid stop.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease in any way, or if you would like to help volunteer or support the Alzheimer’s Association, go to alz.org/gmc to see where help is needed in your area.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and more than 180,000 people in Michigan have the disease.

Alzheimer’s is a journey that many families across the nation face, yet feel so alone. The Alzheimer’s Association knows what those families are going through, and provide so many resources to help out families going through this difficult time.

Not only does the Alzheimer’s Associations provide families with endless resources, they also have committed volunteers who help those affected in any way by Alzheimer’s get to support groups or even special cafes for those dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s main office is located at 2944 Fuller Avenue North East in suite 101.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease in any way, or if you would like to help volunteer or support the Alzheimer’s Association, go to alz.org/gmc to see where help is needed in your area.

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Make Your Voice Heard on November 7

make-your-voice-heard-graphic

On Tuesday, November 7, a renewal of The Rapid’s operating millage will be on the ballot.

We have been operating public transportation service for seven years under the current mill rate of 1.47. We are asking the public to renew the rate for an additional 12 years. A renewal of this millage ensures the continuation of the strong public transportation system that serves the Greater Grand Rapids area. Without millage approval, the majority of public transit service The Rapid provides would cease in the six-city region.

The Purpose of the Millage Renewal

At The Rapid, our mission is to create, offer and continuously improve a flexible network of regional public transportation options and mobility solutions. The renewal of this millage directly impacts our funding structure and our mission to provide convenient, affordable and sustainable transportation to the community. Along with passenger fares and state operating assistance, the property tax helps fund The Rapid’s operations budget. The Rapid is a public transit organization funded under Public Act 196 of 1986. This is the method provided by the State of Michigan for local transit operators to provide the necessary local funds for public transit. These local millage funds will provide approximately 35.5% of our operating budget. The remainder is made of fares paid by passengers 16.1% and contract revenues for service14.5% and local bus operating assistance (LBOA) at 32.7% from the Michigan Department of Transportation with other revenue sources making up the balance of 1.2%.

Millage funds are used strictly for expenses directly related to operating service.

Community Impact of Public Transportation

A millage renewal helps everyone, whether you ride the bus or not. The Rapid provides an average of one million rides per month, and these are people who are going to doctor’s appointments, to school, to work, to go shopping, or attending community events. A millage renewal ensures that everyone in our region has access to all of these things.

Minimum- and low-wage earners, persons with disabilities and senior citizens also rely on The Rapid to go about their daily lives. Some people need public transportation to get to their jobs, with more than 80 percent of rides being taken to and from employment. Many passengers use The Rapid to receive dialysis, chemotherapy and other medical treatments. Others are unable to drive or can’t afford to own a car and pay for auto insurance. Special-need students depend on the bus to get to school. The millage renewal is essential to The Rapid’s efforts to ensure our community’s most vulnerable citizens can maintain their independence and help low-income workers have access to affordable transportation options.

Make Your Voice Heard

Registered voters who live within the boundaries of the communities identified above in Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Grandville, Wyoming and Walker can vote on The Rapid millage renewal at their precinct on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.

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10 Transit-Friendly November Events

November Events

Cold weather and shorter days are here to stay as we welcome November. Fortunately, there is still so much to do throughout Grand Rapids before winter arrives.

Comedy, shopping, museum days and delicious food and drink specials will fill up your calendar this month. Avoid the hassle of parking and ride with us to make the most out of your event travel this month.

1. Grand Rapids Improv Festival

From Oct. 30 through Nov. 6, ride with us to hilarious comedy events throughout downtown Grand Rapids. The home base for the Grand Rapids Improv Festival is Dog Story Theater (7 Jefferson Ave), however, there will be loads of performances, workshops, special events and even networking to partake in during this week of improv. Some events include Beyond Hamilton: A Musical Improv Workshop, Leading Ladies, and Improv Hop! View the full lineup here.

Locations vary based on the events.

2. Beneath the Wreath: a Charitable Shopping Event

Shop for a cause to kick off this holiday season. This event on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 features the best in stylish women’s clothing and accessories, holiday and home decor, handmade arts and crafts, children’s clothing, and specialty local and gourmet foods. This event takes place at The Cultural Center at St. Nicholas on East Paris. Along with 100 percent of ticket sales, these funds directly support Junior League of Grand Rapids’ projects improving children’s physical health in our community, including Backpack Buddies and Kids in the Kitchen.

Routes 5 and 24 can get you there.

3. Fall Festival

Enjoy fall at Richmond Park with this free, family-friendly on Nov. 4. There will be outdoor ping-pong, kayaking on Richmond Pond, cider and donuts, snacks, face painting and more!

Route 9 can get you there.

4. Recycled Art Holiday Market

Do your holiday shopping with 60 artisans who focus on repurposing, upcycling or recycling materials in their work! This holiday market takes place at City High Middle School on Nov. 4. It’s just $2 for admission.

Route 11 can get you there. 

5. Jurassic Quest

Don’t miss the largest exhibition of lifesize, moving museum-quality dinosaurs in North America! This traveling exhibition is coming to DeVos Place on Nov. 3-5. Bring your kids or favorite little ones to see 80 life-size dinosaurs, dig for fossils, play in mazes and do dino crafts. Tickets range in price from $14 for seniors to $29 for all-inclusive kids VIP tickets. Get yours now.

Routes 11, 13 and the SL can get you there.

6. Brain: The World Inside Your Head

Throughout November, make some time to learn more about the power of the brain at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. This exhibit takes you inside the brain to discover basic inner workings!

Routes 7, 9, 12 and 50 can get you there. 

7. Cocktail Week Grand Rapids

Sip local from Nov. 8-19 for a celebration of the art of the craft cocktail in Grand Rapids. Participating bars and restaurants will feature specials to get two Michigan cocktails and a shared-plate appetizer for $25 or less. There will also be a full schedule of cocktail events and other special offers here.

Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6+ can get you there.

8. Comfort Food Friday

On Nov. 10, ride The Rapid to the Downtown Market for a day of celebrating the home-cooked, hand-made and heartiest meals! Market merchants will be serving up homestyle favorites like mac and cheese, cheddar beer bread and smoked meatloaf. Yum!

Routes 1, 2 and the Silver Line can get you there.

9. Annie

Get on board to see this main stage holiday musical at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre! Annie is a musical about an orphan searching for her family in the 1930s. This musical will be on stage from Nov. 17  through Dec. 17. Tickets range in price from $15-$27.

Routes 1, 4, 13, 14, 16 and the Silver Line

10. International Wine, Beer and Food Festival

For a decade, this festival has been serving up more than 1,800 wines, beers, ciders, and spirits. Whether you’re a beverage connoisseur or just a novice, there’s something to please everyone’s palette at this event. This festival takes place from Nov. 16-18 at DeVos Place with single-day admission for $15 or a 3-day pass for $40. Get your tickets here.

Routes 11, 13 and the SL can get you there. Plan your trip.

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Local Priest Champions Public Transportation in Grand Rapids

Father Mark smiling on the bus.

It wasn’t exactly divine providence that The Rapid bus service was there to serve the Rev. Mark Przybysz in his time of need.

Rather, Przybysz himself was integral to ensuring that the Grand Rapids area’s mass transit system had expanded over the years — and therefore could conveniently get him to wherever he had to go when he was temporarily unable to drive after suffering a concussion in March 2015.

“The Rapid helped me to continue to function, to live an independent life,” said the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Community in Grand Rapids, who over the years has advocated for financial and other support of the Interurban Transit Partnership, operator of The Rapid. “I did not lose a beat on my ministry life, on my social life, on my health care life — I was able to do everything that I used to be able to do.”

Przybysz’s sudden reliance on The Rapid did not go unnoticed by his parishioners, who were accustomed to hearing him speak in favor of mass transit. Some church members even followed in his footsteps, Przybysz said.

“Some of them actually started to take The Rapid themselves,” he said. “It really is a great service, and it’s great to have it handy for so many people.”

“The Rapid is a friend”

Przybysz’s injury occurred when he was walking his dog and passed out for some reason, hitting his head. He was able to get back to his house and receive medical assistance but was told he shouldn’t drive for six months.

Plenty of people offered to chauffer him while he recovered, but Przybysz opted to turn to The Rapid for his transportation needs. For example, he rode the bus to meetings of the Aquinas College Board of Directors — on which he serves — as well as to get to follow-up medical appointments and to visit parishioners in the hospital.

“The Rapid is a friend,” Przybysz said. “It’s there for you in your time of need and it will help build our community because this is a community of friendships. I think that really sums up what The Rapid is about. Maybe you don’t use it all the time, or even ever, but if you need it, it’s there and you know that it’s a friend that’s not only there for you but that the friend is also helping make our community even stronger. It just reflects who we are as Grand Rapidians.”

Przybysz applauds the evolution of the mass transit system from the original Grand Rapids Area Transit Authority, which offered service mainly in Grand Rapids, into today’s regional Interurban Transit Partnership.

Today, The Rapid serves Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker and Wyoming, with some fixed routes extending into nearby townships, and has buses that run until 11 p.m. It also operates on-demand service for people with disabilities, and car- and vanpooling programs for people living outside the fixed-route service area.

As a result, the transit system has played an important role in Grand Rapids’ transformation into the bustling, thriving community that it is today, Przybysz said.

“It makes our community closer, and it makes our community more alive,” he said. “We get to know each other better. It opens our community to everybody who still doesn’t have a car, which is a lot of people. It helps us to see the different dimensions of our community.”

A robust mass transit system also is integral to economic development, ensuring that workers can get to jobs and helping to attract young professionals, said Przybysz, whose ultimate vision is for The Rapid to become a countywide system.

“It’s a fantastic offering to a new generation,” he said. “The younger generation wants a system where they can use alternative methods to get around.”