Posted in Places to Go on

Small Business Saturday: Get on Board to Shop Locally

shop small on small business Saturday, November 28.

Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’re all for Small Business Saturday.

Did you know that 66 percent of every dollar spent at a local business stays locally? While you’re tackling your holiday gift list this season, don’t miss a chance to explore small businesses around West Michigan. In fact, riding the bus can even give you a chance to notice small shops throughout our area that may have just what you’re looking for. This Saturday, November 28 is your chance to think local and shop small for Small Business Saturday.

Let The Rapid be your connection to finding great gifts throughout our service area. Here’s our list of Local First businesses to help shop small this Saturday and throughout the holidays:

6.25 Paper Studio
Stationery lovers, this is the shop for you. Located directly downtown, this stationary boutique offers custom invitations, gifts, and greeting cards for all occasions.
Location: 40 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 745-5402
Nearby routes: Routes 1, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15

Art of the Table
This unique retailer offers specialty foods from U.S. artisan companies, as well as wine and beer from small family-owned wineries and breweries.
Location: 606 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 301-1885
Nearby routes: Routes 4 & 5

Aspara Spa
Give the fit of restoration and rejuvenation to those on your holiday shopping list.
1514 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
(616) 451-4505
Routes nearby: 6

Brothers Leather Supply
Come find your new handcrafted bag, wallet, cell phone cover, or belt right on Division!
Location: 15 Division Ave. S, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 217-2000
Routes nearby: Silver Line, 1, 4, 13, 14, 15

Clothing Matters
If you or someone you love appreciates quality eco-apparel, then this specialty retailer should do the trick. Find sustainable apparel from over 100 designers.
Location: 141 Diamond SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 742-2818
Nearby routes: Routes 6 & 14

DeVries Jewelers
Discover fine jewelry at this fourth-generation family business.
Location: 411 Leonard St., Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Phone: (616) 454-6892
Nearby Route: 7

Foot Outfitters
Quality shoes and bus travel go hand in hand. This local footwear and clothing boutique specializes in comfort footwear.
Location: 411 Robinson Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 451-4732
Nearby routes: 6 & 19

Global Gifts
Here you will find fair-trade products from world artisans including jewelry, linens, coffee, and much more.
Location: 2055 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
Phone: (616) 245-2225
Nearby routes: 5 & 28

Global Infusion
Fair-trade gifts, decor, clothing, and provisions make this marketplace a must-visit location for the holidays.
Location: 143 Diamond SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 776-9720
Nearby routes: 6 & 14

Grand Rapids Bicycle Company
Your local source for purchasing, repairing, and accessorizing your bicycle. 
Location: 644 Lovett Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 272-4861
Nearby route: 6

Hop Scotch Children’s Store
Here you will find natural fiber clothing for babies and children, as well as natural parenting toys and gear created by local artisans.
Location: 909 Cherry Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 233-4008
Nearby routes: 4, 6, 14

Metal Art Studio Fine Jewelry
Offering designer jewelry from around the world, this local store holds something for every occasion.
Location: 978 Cherry Street, SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 459-5075
Nearby routes: 6, 14, 19

Minty Keen
If you’re seeking a vintage, handmade, or eco-friendly present, Minty Keen should be at the top of your shopping list.
Location: 40 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 551-1613
Nearby routes: Silver Line, 1, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15

O’Connor’s Home Brew Supply
This local home brew store offers numerous products for current or aspiring home brewers.
Location: 619 Lyon St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 635-2088
Nearby routes: 6, 13, 15, 19

Old World Olive Co.
Discover the finest olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around around the world. 
Location: 108 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 884-0107
Nearby routes: Silver Line, 6, 9, 11, 13, 19, 50

Rainbow Music Inc.
Here you will find musical instruments for rental or purchase, as well as music lessons.
Location: 1148 Leonard NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Phone: (616) 774-0565
Nearby routes: 7

Schuler Books
A local staple, this bookstore also offers music and gifts. 
Location: 2660 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Phone: (616) 942-2561
Nearby routes: 5 & 28

Sissy’s Sweet Shoppe LLC
Seeking a bit of retro nostalgia? This old-fashioned candy shop has something tasty for patrons of all ages. 
Location: 38 Commerce Ave SW 104, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 710-1814
Nearby routes: 1, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15

Spirit Dreams
This local shop offers a variety of gifts dedicated to holistic health, wellness, and spiritual growth.
Location: 1430 Lake Dr., Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 456-9889
Nearby routes: 6 & 19

The Cheese Lady Grand Rapids
While the shop name is an indicator of what lies inside, this local store also offers specialty items, gift baskets, and much more.
Location: 315 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 242-9880
Nearby routes: 13 & 19

What’s your favorite local retailer? Show them some love this Saturday!


Posted in News on

Grab Your Shovel, Winter is Coming

Person shoveling a sidewalk

Another wonderful Michigan winter is headed our way! Soon enough we will be welcoming a crisp blanket of snow to Grand Rapids. After you’ve made your first snow angel of the season, take some time to consider how you can  impact the accessibility of your community this winter.

Sidewalks, fire hydrants, bus stops, and catch basins all become less accessible as the snow begins to pile up. This is the reason organizations throughout Kent County have stepped up to form Shoveling Snow Angels. This group aims to gather individuals seeking to go above and beyond for their neighbors — and community as a whole — by putting their shovel to good use. Learn more about this awesome group of individuals:

Are you interested in becoming a Shoveling Snow Angel or know someone that could use the help of one? “Like” the Shoveling Snow Angel Facebook page and get in touch!

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Rapid Fare Enforcement Officer Stands up to Bullies

Rapid Fare Enforcement Officer stops bullying taking place at a Silver Line station.

Have you seen the viral video about bullying that was filmed here in Grand Rapids? The “Who Will Stop Bullying?” video by Grand Rapids native Rob Bliss been making its way around the internet for about a month. The video features Rapid passengers and onlookers witnessing a girl being bullied by others while sitting at the Fulton Street Silver Line station. Unbeknownst to the passengers, these girls are actresses and the scenarios are being filmed. How people react is pretty amazing.

We were proud to see one of our employees featured as he did his part to stop the bullying taking place at the Silver Line station. His name is Charles and he’s a Fare Enforcement Officer on the Silver Line. If you’re a regular Silver Line rider, you may be familiar with his welcoming smile and kind demeanor. Charles was just as surprised as we were to find out that he was featured in a video that has nearly 10 million views on just one YouTube channel.

We took a moment to ask Charles what it was like to be featured in the video, as well as share a bit more about himself. Find out what he has to say:

We’re incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful staff of individuals keeping our community moving!

Have you witnessed an act of kindness while riding the bus?

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New Study: Riding the Bus Leads to Improved Health

 Woman with brown hair sitting on the Silver Line bus looking out of the window.

Riding the bus every day may be healthier than you think. A new study found that riding a bus or train to work instead of driving a car could significantly reduce the risk factors related to heart disease.

The study that took place in Osaka, Japan was recently presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015 in Orlando, FL. The team assessed data of 5,800 adults from Japan. Participants underwent a health examination in 2012, in which they were asked how they traveled to work. The subjects were divided into groups based on whether they took public transportation (bus, train, or both) to get to work, those who walked or cycled, and those who traveled by car.

Compared with drivers, study participants who used public transportation to get to work were 44 percent less likely to be overweight, 34 percent less likely to have diabetes, and 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure. These are well-known risk factors for heart disease, which is a condition that kills around 610,000 people in the US every year. Researchers  were surprised by these results. They also learned that men were more likely than women to drive to work. This means that women were more often picking public transportation, walking, or cycling.

Overall, there are some limitations to the study, like the likelihood for general health and well-being to simply be better for chosen groups. But the team still believes these findings warrant further investigation.

“People should consider taking public transportation instead of a car, as a part of daily, regular exercise. It may be useful for health care providers to ask patients about how they commute,” said Dr. Tsuji in regard to how he general population should consider their commuting habits for a better understanding of their overall well-being.

The connection between riding the bus and health is no secret. In fact, a study was published earlier in the year found that switching to public transportation to commute to work reduced body mass index (BMI) in participants.

If you’re looking for another small way to take a positive step for your health, consider checking out the bus!

Read the full study on the American Heart Association blog:

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Thank You to Our Veterans

Thank You Veterans

Today we remember the service of our veterans. We honor them for the sacrifices they have made for our country. Not just the many Rapid employees who have served, but also the individuals throughout our community. We’re grateful that we have the opportunity to have you on board our buses every day to get you to  work, run errands, go to appointments, and so much more.

We have many employees here at The Rapid that have served our country in the armed forces! Below are Jodie Burns, Steve Clapp, and Norm Young.

Rapid employee who is a veteran. Rapid employee who is a veteran.
Posted in Rider Stories on

Real Rider – Kasi Shares How Riding The Rapid Has Improved Her Independence

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 about riding The Rapid for consideration by clicking the link on the right side of this blog. 

 Kasi and Cari ride the Route 16 bus.

“I used to live up north, but I love it down here. I have more independence. I can go where I want, and I don’t have to wait for anybody.”

Moving to a city with public transportation was a huge step for Kasi. Her interest in riding the bus led her to contact The Rapid’s Travel Training Department to participate in One-On-One Travel Training. Our Travel Trainer Cari helped her learn more about our fixed-route bus system, plan her trip, and ensure that she was traveling safer and smarter along the way.

“Cari is the one who taught me how to ride the bus. Anytime I need a new route, she’s there,” said Kasi.

Riding the bus has opened the door to employment for Kasi. She now rides the bus to her job at the Wyoming YMCA. While on board, she enjoys having time to jam out to her music and meet new people.Watch Kasi’s full video to learn more about her experience riding The Rapid and working with our Travel Trainer.

Getting on board is easy. Let our Travel Trainers turn you into a public transportation expert!

Posted in Places to Go on

Ride The Rapid to 2015 Halloween Destinations

Ride The Rapid on Halloween

Let us be your ride to all of the Halloween fun taking place throughout Grand Rapids! With Halloween landing on a Saturday this year, there’s a number of exciting and spooky events to fill your day. Leave your car at home (especially if you’re planning on celebrating with Halloween drinks) and let us get you where you need to go. Get on board to visit these events:

1. Catch a scary movie.

UICA is showing the perfect horror movie for Halloween: Goodnight Mommy. For just $4 you can catch this horror flick at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 31. Warning: It’s rated R. You can get to the UICA via Routes Silver Line, 1, 4, 6, 13,  14, 15.

2. Collect some comics.

Halloween Comic Fest is taking place at Tardy’s Collector’s Corner. From 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Halloween, receive 20% off storewide, receive a free comic book, and even participate in a costume contest! There will even by a local horror artist setup in the store selling his artwork.  Ride Routes 4 and 24 to get there!

3. Don’t miss the perfect Halloween musical.

If you love The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, then you must check out the new musical version of the classic by Washington Irving.  Spend your afternoon watching Sleepy Hollow the  youth musical! It takes place at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre on October 31 at 2:00 p.m. Get on board the bus to get there! Routes 1, 4, 6, 14, 15, and the Silver Line can get you there.

4. Get moving in Eastown.

Get out and get moving in Eastown from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the Eastown Halloween Walk! This is a safe trick-or-treating event for the whole family throughout the Eastown Business District. Enjoy the sights and local businesses this Halloween. Hop on Routes 5, 6, or 14 to join in on the fun.

5. Trick-or-treat at the mall.

Dress up with your family and ride Routes 5, 6, 17, 24, 28, and 44 to Woodland Mall for Halloween Hoopla! Enjoy treats at the mall from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. before heading back to your neighborhood to nab some candy.

6. Treat yourself to a night of grim music & poetry.

Looking for a nontraditional Halloween event? A Night of Grim Love may be the destination for you. Enjoy live music, poetry, and much more at the Great Laker Commonwealth of Letters on Saturday, October 31 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Don’t forget your costumes! Get on board Routes 4 and 5 to get there.

7. Take to the streets.

Live music, costumes, craft beer, oh my! If all of those things sound good, don’t miss Halloween on Ionia. From 3:00 p.m. until midnight you can party in the street at an event that typically draws in around 8,000 attendees. Get there by bus, as Central Station is nearby as well as a number of bus stops. Since the party ends after bus service, you can also use Uber to get you home safely.

Happy Halloween! Plan your trip today.

Posted in In The Community on

Celebrating Connectivity: Sidewalks Completed along 28th Street

The sidewalk connection along 28th street map.

A major milestone was achieved this week with the completion of continuous sidewalks from Kalamazoo Avenue to Patterson Avenue along 28th Street. These sidewalks now physically connect Grand Rapids and Kentwood to Cascade Township.  After seven years and nearly $2 million in federal, state and local dollars, seven miles of sidewalks in this busy business corridor now provide a safer connection for individuals of all abilities.

On Thursday, October 23, Disability Advocates of Kent County held a ribbon cutting celebration in honor of this community achievement that will allow access to more opportunities. In attendance were MDOT Director Kirk Steudle, Mayor Elect Rosalynn Bliss, Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley, Rapid CEO Peter Varga, as well as citizens from the community.

The crowd at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the celebration of the 28th street sidewalks watches as Peter Varga speaks.
Citizens in wheelchairs cut the ribbon at the 28th street sidewalk celebration.

Woman clapping and celebrating with her GO!Bus operator at the ribbon cutting celebration.

Citizens smiling and celebrating.

Posted in News on

The Rapid wins American Public Transportation honors for Creative Excellence

Peter Varga and Jennifer Kalczuk accepting The Rapid's AdWheel award.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced the winners of its annual AdWheel Awards at the APTA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, including three top honors for Greater Grand Rapids very own public transportation system, The Rapid. The awards recognize public transportation systems and business members for excellence in advertising, communications, marketing and promotion.

The Rapid was the recipient of two first place awards, one for the “We’re on the Line” (category: print, advertisement – promotion) promoting The Rapid’s Silver Line and the Silver Line map (category: print, system map).  “We’re on the Line” went on to receive the Grand Award in the print category, recognized as the best of the 14 first place winners in the print category.

“Receiving a prestigious APTA AdWheel Award is a very high honor that reflects the outstanding commitment to excellence and innovation of our hardworking staff,” said Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid. “The awards are an acknowledgment that our team is among the nation’s ‘best of the best.’ On behalf of our riders and supporters, we congratulate their efforts.”

More than 500 entries competed this year in the five categories of print, electronic, campaigns, special events and social media. First-place honors were awarded in various subcategories in each of four groups divided by system size. Grand Award winners were chosen from those first-place winners in each group. The Rapid competed against public transportation systems with between 4 million and 20 million passenger trips annually.

For a complete list of first-place winners, visit .

In addition to the awards honoring The Rapid, Grand Rapids-based American Seating Company’s promotional campaign highlighting “Listening, Designing and Investing in Public Transportation” was recognized in the business member category with a first place award for community campaigns.

“I applaud the 2015 AdWheel Award winners for their exceptional work,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “These public transit communicators are truly leaders in their field and we recognize their efforts to promote the many benefits of public transportation, and we are proud to put their creative work in the spotlight for others to see.”

Posted in News on

Route 28 Will Extend to Cascade Township

Route 28 map extending east to service the YMCA, Meijer, and then ending at Cascade Road.

Recently, the Cascade Township Board approved a three-year trial of a bus service extension on 28th Street. Beginning as early as January 2016, Route 28 will extend service east into Cascade Township.

Providing public transportation to and within Cascade Township has been a goal of The Rapid and Cascade Township officials for some time.With the extension of Route 28, passengers will now have direct access to  the Cascade Meijer, Walmart, and the Mary Free Bed YMCA. At this time, the closest bus stop to Cascade Township is at 28th Street and Acquest Drive in the city of Kentwood.

“The extension is identified as a needed improvement in The Rapid’s current Long Range Plan, adopted in 2010, and it’s one of the most requested service addition we hear from the public, ” said Kevin Wisselink, Senior Planner at The Rapid.

The cost of this extension will be approximately $400,000 per year. Exact hours and frequencies are still being finalized, the end cost will be determined after a route with exact hours is in place and will be split, with the township paying 75 percent and the Downtown Development Authority paying 25 percent. Participating business partners, such as Meijer, will offset some of the DDA’s share.

Also driving the move toward Rapid service in Cascade is the Mary Free Bed YMCA, which is expected to open in December. The facility is designed for use by persons of all abilities and expects to draw members that will need fixed-route and paratransit bus service. “One more step in making them independent is making public transportation a reality,” said Maria Besta, manager of adaptive sports program for Mary Free Bed.

The proposed Rapid route will extend bus service on 28th Street east to the Cascade Center just across Cascade Road Drive with a loop down Patterson to Burton to Kraft.

Read more about this extension via MLive: