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The Rapid Introduces Propane-Fueled Vehicles Into Its GO!Bus Fleet

 Propane GO!Bus

We kicked off Earth Day a bit early here at The Rapid by welcoming four new vehicles into its GO!Bus service which will be fueled by clean-burning, domestically-produced, affordable propane autogas. GO!Bus is available for seniors and people with disabilities who cannot ride fixed route services. It uses smaller, cutaway vehicles for door-to-door trips. The service is operated under a contract with MV Transportation. The fueling station is located at the Go!Bus facility so vehicles can be fueled on-site as port of their daily maintenance.

The new vehicles are expected to reduce emissions, save on fuel costs and provide a quieter ride for customers. These vehicles feature special signage, including a propane logo and a green roof, similar to that used on hybrid-electric 40-foot fixed-route buses already in The Rapid’s fleet.

“The Rapid has been an industry leader in sustainability efforts and this is another step in the overall program. Options for alternative fuels that work well in the smaller cutaway buses we use in our GO!Bus service have not been as plentiful as those for fixed-route buses. We know propane works in our climate and the vehicles have a very similar engine so the maintenance program is the same,” said Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid. “It is also important that propane is produced here in the United State, supporting American jobs and reducing dependency on foreign oil.”

“The Rapid is helping to clear the air above Grand Rapids with the adoption of vehicles fueled by cleaner-burning propane autogas, ” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “By choosing this alternative fuel, the transit agency is providing clean transportation to its customers and saving taxpayer dollars.”

Also speaking at the event was Brian Balogh, regional vice president, MV Transportation.

This is a win for our customers, our operations partner MV Transportation and tax-payers,” said Varga.

Go!Bus Key Exchange

GO!Bus

Posted in Places to Go on

Silver Line & Dine: Find Your New Favorite Dish At Pho Soc Trang

Pho Soc Trang menu on the table.

Sometimes the best way to discover a new-to-you restaurant is completely on a whim. All it took was one bitter cold Saturday in February to divert original plans that then led us — that is, The Rapid and the folks of Creative Mornings — to crave a large bowl of something warm. Fortunately for us, Pho Soc Trang was there to save the day.

For more regular public transportation users, discovering new places while riding the bus is second nature. But for those who don’t ride as often, finding a new restaurant or shop can be an unexpected treat. And as for the Silver Line route, a quick glance at the route on Google Maps will point out numerous delicious and diverse eateries on and around South Division avenue.

Whether you’re craving Vietnamese cuisine or just interested in giving it a try, Pho Soc Trang should be the next destination on your list. Located just two blocks north of the southbound 44th Street Silver Line Station, this restaurant is nestled within in the same complex as Wei Wei Palace at 4242 S. Division Avenue inside the Kim Nhuong Super Store.

Inside Pho Soc Trang you’ll find a cozy eating environment. Their menu features a slew of Vietnamese standby favorites. If you’re a first-timer many regular patrons will suggest getting the pho, pronounced “fuh.” But if you’re not in the mood for this noodle soup dish, the menu is chock full of delicious entrees and appetizers. Pho Soc Trang even offers a variety of drink options including boba smoothies, Thai iced teas and other delicious fruit drinks.

Planning your trip to Pho Soc Trang is easy thanks to our trip planning capabilities via Google Maps. Map your trip on your desktop computer using RapidConnect or on your smartphone using the myStop app or Google Maps. If you don’t already have a ticket to ride, purchase yours before you board at any ticket vending machine at all Silver Line Stations, Central Station, or any participating locations. Get the most for your money by  purchasing a 1-day pass for just $3.00.

Here’s a look at the Pho Soc Trang eating experience:

Pouring tea at Pho Soc Trang

Delicious spring rolls at Pho Soc Trang.

Pho soup

Table spread at pho soc trang.

Let the Silver Line be your connection to exploring delicious food around the greater Grand Rapids area.

Where: 4242 S. Division, Grand Rapids (inside Kim Nhung Super Store complex)
Hours: Weekdays from 9 a.m – 9 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Rapid Route connections: Silver Line, Route 1, Route 44.

Have you rode the Silver Line to a restaurant yet?

Posted in In The Community on

Poetry On The Rapid

Poetry on the rapid

Have you noticed anything different while riding the bus lately?

In honor of National Poetry Month, passengers on The Rapid will get more than just a daily dose of spring scenery to enjoy during their ride. Throughout the month buses are featuring poetry crafted by faculty from Calvin College, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University .

As a whole, the Poetry on the Rapid program features six poems on placards throughout The Rapid bus system, each designed by Vinicius Lima, assistant professor of graphic design at Grand Valley. The placards feature works by multiple Grand Valley Writing Department faculty, including Patricia Clark, Chris Haven, Amorak Huey and Todd Kaneko.

Clark, chair of Grand Valley’s Writing Department, said the placards will create a sense of wonder in the minds of Rapid riders.

“Let’s use our imagination a little more and see the world with a sense of fun, a sense of play, a sense of fooling around with language,” Clark said. “Let’s be children again a little bit. Go ahead and read those poems.”

The Poetry on the Rapid program celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as National Poetry Month.

Have you had a chance to enjoy these works of art?

Posted in Rider Stories on

13 Reasons Why Rapid Riders Support Public Transportation

I love public transportation

In honor of Stand Up for Transportation Day last week we asked fans of The Rapid Facebook page to chime in on why they support public transportation. Here’s what they said:

1.  Katalina C. – “Don’t have a car now and my daughter and I use the bus a lot!”

2.  Latrice P. -  ”I’m a GO!Bus driver 8 years strong… Public transportation is the greatest!”

3.  David F. - “Public transportation helps reduce traffic congestion – plus it gives me time to catch up on a good book.”

4.  Becca S. -  ”I use public transportation as much as possible. It is the most efficient way for me to travel to and from work and school.”

5.  John Rayner -  ”Cheaper than driving and like meeting my friends that ride.”

6.  Debbie C.  -  ”I love putting my bike on the bus and going downtown to bike the sidewalks around the river!”

7.  Rachael B. – “So much cheaper than owning a car – and once I’m on the bus, I can read a book or just sit back and relax. Also, it keeps me more active than i would be if i were driving instead of busing and walking.”

8.  Javanna B. - “My kids and I ride the bus to the library it would be a 4-mile round trip walk for us. Thankful for the bus.”

9.  Kadie S. - “I like the environment and public transportation helps in more than one way.”

10.  David J.   ”I like having options. I like not having to worry about parking. I like being able to go out with friends and not worry about who’s going to drive home.”

11.  Emily C. – “I like being able to go downtown and not have to worry about parking. It is also so important for those that are unable to drive to have a reliable and affordable way to get around.”

12.  Alena D. –  ”Public transportation gives all citizens access to jobs, groceries, etc., not just citizens who can afford a car. It’s also a more sustainable option for the earth!”

13.  Andrea K. - “I like the fact that it helps people who cannot afford a car top get where they need to go and also gives people a good back up in case their car breaks down, like mine unfortunately.”

Why do you support public transportation?

Posted in Events on

The Rapid, American Seating, Grand Valley State University, Spectrum Health Stand Up For Transportation

The Rapid, Grand Valley State University, Spectrum Health and American Seating

Yesterday, The Rapid Chair Barb Holt, Grand Valley State University President Dr. Thomas Haas and American Seating Company Vice President,General Sales Manager Dave McLaughlin and Spectrum Health Senior Vice President of Public Affairs united to send a message to Congress that it’s time to find a long-term surface transportation bill.

The press conference was held at Grand Valley State University’s L. William Seidman Center where organization representatives spoke to the direct impact high-quality public transportation has had on the Grand Rapids area. Holt of The Rapid Board spoke to the necessity of federal funding to ensure The Rapid can continue to grow  to meet the demands of ridership, as well as usher in the Laker Line, The Rapid’s proposed second bus rapid transit (BRT) line connecting the Grand Valley State University campuses in Allendale and downtown Grand Rapids. Dr. Haas  shared insight on the importance of public transportation to the university, as well as the community connections it allows. Heacock  spoke to the benefits of the Silver Line and the introduction of the Laker Line for providing access for Spectrum, where three percent of employees regularly ride mass transit and more than six percent right it at least once per month. And McLaughlin detailed the local economic value and job creation potential of transportation investment.

Following the success of the Silver Line, the Laker Line is the next proposed BRT project in our community. Project development is dependent on federal infrastructure funding. While this route improvement offers the potential for better connections for students, employees and the connection between federal investment and local jobs. The current federal transportation funding bill is set to expire on May 31, 2015.

To add to the excitement of what could come with increased federal transportation infrastructure funding, The Rapid  featured a 60-foot articulated (bendy) bus as a demo from another transit system. The Laker Line BRT would feature articulated buses to meet increasing ridership demand that directly impact capacity on current 40-foot buses.

It wasn’t just the Grand Rapids area standing up for transportation, more than 300 other transportation agencies and organizations across came together to raise their voices for the cause.

View photos from Stand Up for Transportation day on The Rapid Facebook page.

Posted in CEO Insight on

Peter Varga: Stand With Me For Transportation

Peter Varga rides the Silver Line on opening day.

Today on Stand Up for Transportation day,  The Rapid is joining with local partners, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and transportation systems, businesses, and supporters across the country to call attention to the importance of infrastructure investment and the need for a long-term surface transportation authorization bill.  MAP-21, which is the federal surface transportation legislation, expires on May 31.

The return on federal investment in public transportation in our community is evident.  In its first 14 years, The Rapid has seen ridership nearly triple from 4.5 million in 2000 to 12.5 million in 2014.  That would not have happened without adding 65 new buses to the fleet to meet growing demand for service. Eighty percent of funding for buses comes from federal grants.  Passenger amenities such as adding new shelters, bike racks, and benches are primarily funded with federal investment, as is our intelligent transportation system, which allows for real-time rider information, trip planning, and other tools that give riders system information delivered to their smartphones. Grants also pay for facilities improvements, such as the construction of Rapid Central Station, the first LEED-certified transit facility in the country, and the Rapid Operations Center, which was significantly expanded in 2013 to meet growing demand, take advantage of technology advancements, and increase maintenance efficiency.

Rapid Central StationSince its opening, the Silver Line, Michigan’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) line, is off to a very successful start, with nearly a quarter of a million rides provided between August 25, 2014 and December 31, 2014.  Trips in the Division corridor are up 40 percent on weekdays; weekends are even higher.  The Silver Line is attracting new riders, easing traffic congestion, and providing efficient connections between Grand Rapids, Kentwood, and Wyoming.  We are studying a second BRT to replace Route 50 to provide better connections and improve travel efficiency between GVSU’s Allendale campus, Grand Rapids’ West Side, and Medical Mile.  But the Laker Line, as it is called, won’t happen without federal investment.  Infrastructure has always been a bi-partisan issue and has been supported for our safety, mobility, and economic strength.  We need a long-term, sustainable federal infrastructure investment program to keep our country moving.

I hope you will join me in standing up for transportation infrastructure!

- Peter Varga
CEO of The Rapid

Posted in Events on

Stand Up 4 Transportation Photo Challenge: Location List Revealed

Stand Up for Transportation temporary tattoo

Stand Up 4 Transportation Day takes place tomorrow, April 9. Get up and get out to show your support for transportation infrastructure!

Join us as we celebrate public transportation’s progress in our community and learn more about what the future holds. Participating in our Stand Up 4 Transportation Photo Challenge will allow you to explore the future up and coming Laker Line route. Those who complete the challenge will be entered into a drawing to win prizes are an iPad Mini 3, $50 Meijer gift card, and a $25 Meijer gift card.

Pose with your Stand Up 4 Transportation sign at the following locations:

-  Grand Valley State University Pew Campus clock tower

-  Inside a Rapid fixed-route bus or with the bus in the background

-  The Standale Meijer with Sandy the penny pony

-  Outside of Vito’s Pizza

- With the ArtPrize water dragon at the John Ball Zoo

Print out the attached Stand Up 4 Transportation sign here, grab or your cell phone or a camera, and visit the listed destinations. You’ll need to take a photo of yourself (or your group!) holding the SU4T sign at each location.  Creativity in photos is encouraged (but please, keep it family friendly). Once you have completed the challenge, email us your photos (use a zip file if necessary) and you’ll be entered in the drawing. Winners will be selected at random from all complete entries.

 STAND UP 4 TRANSPORTATION PHOTO CHALLENGE GUIDE:

-  Review the photo challenge location list.  All locations are accessible using The Rapid. Check RapidConnect (ridetherapid.org) to plan your trip and/or familiarize yourself with the locations.
-  Take a selfie or have a buddy take a photo of you holding the Stand Up 4 Transportation sign at each location on the photo challenge list. The SU4T logo must be visible in each photo for it to count.
-  If you happen to get a Stand Up 4 Transportation temporary tattoo, this can be used to replace the sign.
-  There is only one of each prize in the drawing. While you can participate as a group, it may be best to enter separately so everyone in your group has an equal chance at winning.
-  We encourage you to tweet about your journey along the way using #SU4T
-  Photos must be submitted by email to mbulthuis@ridetherapid.org as separate attachments or a zip file no later than 12 p.m. on April 10.
-  By entering this contest, you are giving The Rapid permission to use/post the photos submitted.

Photo challenge timeline: April 9 at 6:00 a.m. until April 13 at 8:00 a.m. Submissions must be received by email (mbulthuis@ridetherapid.org) by  12:00 p.m. on April 10 to be considered for the prize drawing.

Posted in News on

The Rapid Board Votes Unanimously In Support Of Proposal 1

The Rapid Board of Directors, representatives of all six municipalities in The Rapid service area,  unanimously approved a resolution supporting Proposal 1 for safer roads in Michigan.

In addition to fixing Michigan’s roads, new revenues will also provide additional revenues for public transportation. Here’s the official resolution of support for Proposal 1 that The Rapid Board approved on Wednesday, April 1, 2015:

 

Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid) Board
RESOLUTION NO. 16
Fiscal Year 2015

Moved and supported to adopt the following resolution:

Resolution of Support for Proposal 1 for Safer Roads

Whereas, Proposal 1 on the May 5, 2015 ballot is Michigan’s opportunity to finally fix our roads and invest in public transportation, which have been without a structural increase in road funding since 1997 and for public transit since 1987; and

Whereas, in addition to threatening public safety, Michigan’s crumbling roads hurt our economy and adversely impact The Rapid’s ability to provide safe, efficient, cost-effective public transportation services; and

Whereas, Michigan invests less per capita in transportation than any other state in the nation; and

Whereas, funding for local bus operating has remained stagnant and therefore is not keeping up with local demand for services, much less maintaining predictable year-to-year increases in the cost of doing business means without new funding, eventually, services will have to be cut; and

Whereas, the longer we wait to fix Michigan’s roads, the more it will cost all of us;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Directors of the Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid) supports Proposal 1 on the May 5th ballot to provide the funding needed to finally make a reasonable, sustainable investment in a sound transportation infrastructure to benefit the safety, mobility, and economy of Michigan and its citizens.

Learn more about Proposal 1 via this MLive video.

Find the official ballot wording of Proposal 1 is available via Michigan.gov.

 

Posted in News on

Six-Year, $478 Billion Transportation Bill Heads To Congress

Grow America U.S. Department of Transportation

The calls for long-term transportation funding may be answered with the new GROW AMERICA Act. Over the past year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has visited more than 100 communities and heard one common story – shared by all – about crumbling infrastructure and dwindling resources to fix it with. Today, Secretary Foxx sent to Congress his solution to this problem: a long-term transportation bill that provides funding growth and certainty so that state and local governments can get back in the business of building things again.

The GROW AMERICA Act reflects President Obama’s vision for a six-year, $478 billion transportation reauthorization bill that invests in modernizing America’s infrastructure. As lawmakers try to fund transportation beyond May 31, GROW AMERICA provides members of the House and Senate with the option of increasing investment in surface transportation by 45 percent, and supporting millions of jobs repairing and modernizing roads, bridges, railroads and transit systems in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

“All over the country, I hear the same account: the need to repair and expand our surface transportation system has never been greater, and yet federal transportation funding has never been in such short supply,” Secretary Foxx said. “Our proposal provides a level of funding and also funding certainty that our partners need and deserve. This is an opportunity to break away from 10 years of flat funding, not to mention these past six years in which Congress has funded transportation by passing 32 short-term measures.”

The GROW AMERICA Act will chart a new course. For one, it will increase investment in all forms of transportation, which will restore the ability of states and local governments to plan for both needed repairs and efforts that increase capacity to meet future demand. Additionally, the proposal ensures that taxpayer dollars are used more effectively and efficiently, and brings federal transportation policy into the 21st century. It will:

-  Increase safety across all modes of transportation, including by almost tripling the budget of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s automobile defects office;
-  Establish an $18 billion freight program so American businesses can compete effectively in a global economy and grow;
-  Increase connections so that more Americans have access to jobs and education, including by raising transit investment by 76 percent;
-  Put in place a transparent and clear permitting process to speed up project delivery;
-  Increase innovative financing by strengthening Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan programs, by making more Private Activity Bonds (PABS) available, and by nearly doubling funding for our TIGER grant program; and
- Empower local government by providing more funding to high-performing Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs).

“It is clear to me that transportation is still a bipartisan issue, and I am really encouraged to see members of both parties working to get something done,” Secretary Foxx said. “During these next two months, though, all of us who work in Washington need to be relentless in trying to get to ‘yes’ on a bill that is truly transformative and that brings the country together. And frankly, governors and state officials as well as mayors and local officials all over the country need to continue being relentless, too, by continuing to raise their voices in support of a transportation bill that meets both their immediate and long-term needs.”

For state fact sheets, and to learn how much more transportation funding your state will have if Congress passes the GROW AMERICA Act, go to www.dot.gov/growamerica.

Posted in Events on

Stand Up 4 Transportation Day

Stand Up For Transportation Day April 9, 2015

On April 9, public transportation supporters around the nation are uniting in their communities and online to send a powerful message to Congress: It’s time to provide long-term investment for America’s transportation network.

On Stand Up 4 Transportation Day (SU4T) The Rapid will be raising awareness about the proposed Laker Line, which would transition the existing Route 50 to a bus rapid transit (BRT) line similar to the Silver Line.  This project would significantly improve transportation between downtown Grand Rapids and Grand Valley University in Allendale, but it won’t happen without federal investment.

We’re inviting you to join us in celebrating public transportation’s progress in our community and learn more about what could be coming next. Explore the future Laker Line route by taking our Stand Up 4 Transportation Photo Challenge. Prizes are an iPad Mini 3, $50 Meijer gift card, and a $25 Meijer gift card.

Participating in the Stand Up 4 Transportation Photo Challenge is easy! We will release the photo challenge location list on Wednesday, April 8, right here on the Get On Board blog  and share it on our Facebook page. Print out the attached Stand Up 4 Transportation sign, grab or your cell phone or a camera, and visit the listed destinations. You’ll need to take a photo of yourself (or your group!) holding the SU4T sign at each location.  Creativity in photos is encouraged (but please, keep it family friendly).  Once you’ve completed the challenge, email us your photos (use a zip file if necessary) and you’ll be entered in the drawing. Winners will be selected at random from all complete entries.

Photo challenge timeline: April 9 at 6:00 a.m. until April 10 at 6:00 a.m. Submissions must be received by email (mbulthuis@ridetherapid.org) by  12:00 p.m. on April 10 to be considered for the prize drawing.
Prepare in advance for this fun transportation challenge! Download your Stand Up 4 Transportation Photo Challenge sign here: https://www.ridetherapid.org/articles/su4t-photo-challenge-sign

 Stand Up 4 Transportation Photo Challenge Guide:

-  Review the photo challenge location list.  All locations are accessible using The Rapid. Check RapidConnect (ridetherapid.org) to plan your trip and/or familiarize yourself with the locations.
-  Take a selfie or have a buddy take a photo of you holding the Stand Up 4 Transportation sign at each location on the photo challenge list. The SU4T logo must be visible in each photo for it to count.
-  There is only one of each prize in the drawing. While you can participate as a group, it may be best to enter separately so everyone in your group has an equal chance at winning.
-  We encourage you to tweet about your journey along the way using #SU4T
-  Photos must be submitted by email to mbulthuis@ridetherapid.org as separate attachments or a zip file no later than 12 p.m. on April 10.
-  By entering this contest, you are giving The Rapid permission to use/post the photos submitted.

Will you be standing up for transportation with us?