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Outstanding Rapid Employees of 2016

Employees of the year 2016

At the beginning of each year, we gather to acknowledge the outstanding work of three types of Rapid employees who have excelled at their work. We recognize the year’s most exceptional administrative employee, technician and bus operator. This year, we’d like you to get to know The Rapid’s 2016 Employees of the Year a bit better.

Administrative Employee of the Year

Lauren D., Benefits Administrator

How many years have you been at The Rapid?
8 years.

Tell us about your career path at The Rapid?
I started in 2009 as a part-time Human Resources Assistant and was in that position until 2012. I was the Recruiter from 2012 – 2015 and became the Benefits
Administrator in October 2015, which is my current role.

What do you love most about your job?
Working with all employees of The Rapid, especially the HR team I work with and the family friendly environment.

Technician of the Year

Tim S., Technician

How many years have you been at The Rapid?
22 years.

You’ve seen a lot of changes during your time here. What has been the best one?
When air conditioning was installed in the garage.

What do you love most about your job?
The people I get to work with.

Bus Operator of the Year

Sherry B., Bus Operator

How many years have you been at The Rapid?
9 years.

What are some other notable achievements you’ve had at The Rapid?
I’ve had no preventable accidents or founded customer complaints during my time at The Rapid.

What do you love most about your job?
I love the driving. I like to be out and about and not stuck in an office environment. Meeting new people helps to make it a really fun job, as well.

Congratulations to Lauren, Tim and Sherry! We’re so grateful to have you as a part of our team.

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Enjoy a Snow Day in Downtown Grand Rapids

Valent-ice

It’s time to get out and take advantage of Michigan’s cold climate and have some fun while doing it!

Ice sculptures, Human Hungry Hungry Hippos, and a giant ice bar are just a few exciting things taking place in downtown Grand Rapids in the days to come. Snow Days, a five-day winter festival sponsored by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and partners, kicks off on Feb. 10.

Snow Days comprises three distinct free- and low-cost events that each feature a wide variety of activities for both families and adults:

Valent-Ice

Valent-ICE, organized around Valentine’s Day, celebrates love and winter in Downtown. Among other activities the event features:

– 50+ unique sculptures that turn Downtown GR into a gallery of ice art. The sculptures total 17 tons of ice and include a life-sized Muhammad Ali, a space shuttle and a 5,000 lb sculpture determined by community voting which runs January 18-25.

– Walking and running tours

– Live ice-carving events

– Games and special libations served at the Downtown Market’s special Ice Bar.

Rail Jam

Rail Jam is a ski and snowboard competition takes place on Feb. 11 at noon in Ah-Nab-Awen Park. Snowboarders and skiers will compete for $1,000 in the free competition by AGA Nation. Visitors can also enjoy live ice-carving demonstrations, sledding and games. Don’t forget to visit the warming tent and food trucks at this event.

Humane Hungry Hungry Hippos

On Sunday, Feb. 12, the classic board game comes to life with the The Human Hungry Hungry Hippos tournament. This game features real people munching marbles on the ice at Rosa Parks Circle in the spirit of the classic tabletop game. The game is currently sold out, but you will want to get there before noon to get a good spot to watch the fun.

Ice Skating

On Monday, Rosa Parks Circle will host free ice skating from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. While admission is also buy one, get one free on Valentine’s Day.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. organizes Snow Days in partnership with community partners, local businesses and sponsors, including Ice Brigade, AGA Nation, AHC+ Hospitality, Craig’s Cruisers, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, WOOD TV 8 and the City of Grand Rapids.

Plan your trip today!

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Transit-Friendly Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day 2017

Mass Transit Valentine

Every romantic’s favorite holiday is just around the corner. Candy, roses and dinner is the standard for many on Feb. 14. But why not set your Valentine’s Day apart from the rest this year? We want to help you plan something a bit out of the ordinary for your special someone.

We put together a list of unique and sweet ideas to surprise your favorite person with. The best part? You don’t need to drive to get to them. This means you get to enjoy a cozy and convenient ride on The Rapid, which will give you more time to talk and less time to worry about driving and parking. Plan your trip in advance and Grab your bus pass and get on board with your sweetheart.

Here are a few noteworthy Valentine’s Day date ideas that are both budget-friendly and public transit accessible.

Catch a Movie

If you’re not loving the normal box office offerings, plan a date to Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts Movie Theater. There you’ll have access to independent, foreign and documentary movies every week, Tuesday through Sunday. If you want to delay your Valentine’s celebrating for a day, you can check out local cinematic talent at the theater’s annual Open Projector Night on the 15th from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Thinking of doing dinner before? If you bring your UICA movie receipt to favorite local restaurants like Osteria Rossa, Stella’s Lounge, Grove and San Chez, you can take advantage of discounts through the UICA’s dinner and a movie program.

Explore a Winter WonderlandSnow Days

Grand Rapids’ very own winter ice festival takes place from Feb. 9 – 14. Ride the bus to downtown Grand Rapids to enjoy the state’s largest ice bar, a 5,000lb community voted sculpture and 50+ ice sculptures dispersed downtown. You and your special someone can take part in walking and running tours, live ice-carving, games and even special libation served at the Downtown Market’s Ice Bar.

This multi-day event is jam-packed with so much to do and see. It’s the perfect excuse to get out and enjoy the cold. See the full schedule to plan your date.

Make it Brunch Instead

Valentine’s Day dinner is a February 14th staple. This means that if you haven’t put in a reservation somewhere yet, there’s a chance you’re probably not getting in. So, why not switch it up? Scrap the standard Valentine’s dinner plans and go out for breakfast, lunch, or better yet, brunch. Here are three brunch locations for your consideration:

Matchbox Diner — Ride Routes 5 & 6 to get there.

Real Food Cafe on EasternRoutes 4 & 28 can get you there.

Anna’s House — Visit the East Beltline Avenue location by riding Routes 5, 6, 24, and 28.

Spend a Day at the Museum

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to explore a museum with your significant other. If you have children, you can also bring them along for the ride.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a wide variety of exhibits on display. You can also celebrate Valentine’s Day a bit early by purchasing tickets for the Feb. 9th Concerts Under the Stars event featuring chamber funk by Jamga in the Chaffee Planetarium. Tickets are $12 before the concert and $15 the day of.

If art is more your style, make it an all-day, visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum for a day of exploration and hands-on fun. February’s exhibits include Finders Keepers: West Michigan Collects, Leo Zulueta: Black Waves and Prints and Processes. From 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., stop by the Drop-In Studio to craft your own puzzle.

Volunteer

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, so why not consider branching out from romance into charity and friendship? Whether you regularly volunteer at an organization or are interested in getting started, there are many ways to give back on February 14. A quick online search can pull a number of reputable volunteer opportunities in the Grand Rapids area. Just be sure to check use the RapidConnect Trip Planner to ensure that the destination and timing of your volunteer opportunity works for bus travel.

Take a Brewery Tour

Since you won’t be driving, consider checking out local breweries in this beer-loving city. And while you’re there, why not take a behind-the-scenes tour? You’ll be able to try different beers, enjoy a variety of food, and still travel the city safely.

You can even plan your own Valentine’s Day beer tour by looking at the breweries throughout the city and checking out the Rapid system map. Currently, Route 6 has the most breweries located just steps away from bus stops. Plan your trip in advance to ensure that routes are running and you can plan out your arrival and departure times. May we suggest starting at Founders, just across the street from Rapid Central Station?

Go Ice Skating

Bundle up and catch a ride with us to enjoy ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle with your Valentine. Admission is $1 for those ages 17 and under and $2 for 18 and over. Need skates? Your ice skate rental fee is covered with admission. View daily ice skating hours here. You can also end the day with a romantic dinner.

Happy Valentine’s Day from your friends at The Rapid!

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The Rapid on The WGVU Morning Show: Connecting to Entertainment throughout Grand Rapids

GRNOW

How do you find out what’s fun, fresh and relevant in and around Grand Rapids? GRNow is the perfect way to stay up to date on local events and entertainment throughout Grand Rapids and the metro area.

Every month we join Shelley Irwin on the WGVU Morning Show to talk transit. On Jan. 23, Michael Bulthuis, The Rapid’s Public Outreach Coordinator, joined Irwin with CJ DeVries of GRNow to get the scoop on events to come in February. From Valent-ICE to the opening of 20 Monroe Live, there’s so much to see and do this month!

Listen to our segment and learn more about events and entertainment taking place this month, as well as the exciting improvements coming to GRNow.

WGVU
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February in Grand Rapids: Ice Skating, Art, Trade Shows and more fun

Valent Ice

Don’t let the chilly weather keep you inside this month. Let us be your warm, cozy ride to fun for every budget throughout Grand Rapids.

Whether you love cars and boats or just want to get out and do some shopping this month, we can get you there! Here’s a look at what’s going on in February:

Michigan International Auto Show

Visit DeVos Place on Feb. 2 – 5 to discover what drives you! Car manufacturers from around the world will bring their finest traveling displays with new vehicles – including sedans, vans, SUV’s, trucks, hybrids and sports cars. Not only is the Auto Show a great place to shop and compare options for everyday vehicles, it is also the first opportunity for West Michigan residents to see many of the most recently released or soon-to-be-released models. This event is presented by the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 6-14 and free for children 5 and under. Active military members, veterans and senior citizens will receive half off on admission on Thursday, Feb. 2.

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

First Friday Galley Hops

Don’t let winter weather get in the way of savoring local art. On the First Friday of every month, South Division becomes the ultimate destination to find artwork by local artists, handmade goods, as well as food and drink specials. This monthly event is a unique opportunity to check out new exhibitions, events and features at shops, galleries and eateries in the rapidly evolving South Division Corridor. Some of the participating sites include the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA), Woosah, Heartside Gallery and Studio, Spiral Gallery and Dime and Regal.

Routes 1, 3, 6, 13 can get you there.

Valent-ICE 2017

From Feb. 9 – 14, find out just how spectacular ice and snow can truly be. Valent-ICE is a winter ice festival celebrating all things winter. For the past three years, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) has organized a gallery of ice sculptures throughout the Downtown Grand Rapids with The Food Network’s Ice Guru Randy Finch. Ride Downtown to explore these ice creations, visit local retailers and check out events like a Rail Jam ski and snowboard competition, a Human Hungry, Hungry Hippo tournament on ice and more.

SL, 6, 9, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

Ice Skating on Rosa Parks Circle

Get outside this month and enjoy a skate around Rosa Parks Circle. Bundle up and catch a ride with us to enjoy ice skating every day. Admission is $1 for those ages 17 and under and $2 for 18 and over. Need skates? Your ice skate rental fee is covered with admission. View daily ice skating hours here.

SL, 6, 9, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

Cool Brews. Hot Eats.

Everyone knows that Grand Rapids is Beer City USA. Our city is also a beloved foodie destination. During Cool Brews Hot Eats, experience the best of both worlds with food and beer pairing specials at many participating restaurant locations. Offered for an entire month in 2017 (Feb. 15-March 15), this celebratory event will give you more time than ever to enjoy delicious brews and dining. Visit Experience Grand Rapids for participating restaurants locations.

Plan your trip on The Rapid.

Free Ride Fridays for Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey

Calling all hockey fans! Did you know you can ride The Rapid at no cost to and from Grand Rapids Griffins Friday home games? Just show your game ticket to your bus operator when boarding. You can also enjoy $2 beer and $2 hot dogs at Friday home games at the Van Andel Arena. This month the Free Ride Friday games are on Feb. 10 and Feb. 24.
Routes 1, 4, 6, 11, 12,  13, 14, 15 can get you there.

Taste of Soul Sunday

On Sunday, Feb. 19, ride with us to the Grand Rapids Public Library for a celebration of African American history and culture.  Listen, learn, create and eat from 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public thanks to the support of the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation.

Routes 4, 6, 15 can get you there.

Tuesdays on the Town

Need an excuse to get out and shop? Head downtown to shop and stroll until 8 p.m. every Tuesday! Start your evening with dinner and then enjoy some late night shopping entertainment. Explore all the local boutique shops, sports apparel, kitchen gifts, clothing, specialty foods, and unique gifts, salon/spa services. Various shops will have specials and other features like trunk shows, refreshments, demos, and music.

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

The 72nd Annual Grand Rapids Boat Show

In its 72nd year, the Grand Rapids Boat Show offers a chance to see the broadest array of power boats ever. Ride with us to DeVos Place from Feb. 15 – 19 for a nearly five-acre display of motor yachts, cruisers runabouts, fishing boats and more. Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children 6-14 and free for children 5 and under. Download the $2 off coupon here.
Routes SL, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.
The Sound of Music

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

The Sound of Music

The hills are alive with the Sound of Music from Feb. 21 – 26 at DeVos Performance Hall. Don’t miss this musical performance from Broadway Grand Rapids. This production is a fresh take on the much-loved classic. Get your tickets now.

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

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6 Tips for Bus Riders During Cold & Flu Season

Passenger pulling stop signal cord

Cold and flu season is upon us. This time of year it seems that everywhere you go there is someone coughing or clearing their throat. Every day we’re exposed to cold and flu germs while in close contact with others, like when you’re commuting to and from work on the bus.  Here are some tips to help you avoid getting sick while on board:

1. Avoid close contact.

One way to keep the transmission of colds and the flu down is to avoid shaking hands. Many people will understand if you explain your reasoning for staying healthy. You can also work to keep your distance from those in your office or home that may not be feeling well.

2. Wash your hands often.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Make sure to also wash your hands as soon as you reach your destination after riding the bus.

3. Keep your hands away from your face.

How many times a day do you think you touch your face? It happens more than you may realize. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that’s been contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

4. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

We know, we know–this should be a no-brainer. But tissues always aren’t available when you need them most. Instead of coughing or sneezing into your hands, do so into your upper sleeve or the inside of your elbow. This helps stop the spread of germs.

5. Stay home.

Contain germs by steering clear of others when you’re sick. We know it isn’t always possible to stay home from work or avoid riding the bus when you’re not feeling well but limit your interactions with people on enclosed spaces as much as possible.

6. Practice good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at your home or work, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

We hope these tips help you stay healthy this cold and flu season, as well as throughout the year.

prevent-flu
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Ride The Rapid to the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids

The Rapid by the YMCA

Did you start the new year off with a fitness resolution? If so, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids may be the place for you. Don’t miss our latest FOX 17 Thrifty Thursday deal.

Getting started at a new fitness facility can be intimidating. However, the YMCA will partner with you every step of the way so you are comfortable and determined on your journey to health and wellness. Whether you’re interested in group fitness classes, personal training, swimming in the pool or just working out at your own pace, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Their programs even include a variety of sports leagues for all ages and cooking and nutrition classes. The YMCA even offers daycare service for kids, so your kids have something to do when you’re working out.

Thrifty Thursday Deal

The YMCA has waived their joining fee until the end of January. This means you’ll be able to join at no additional cost! They offer family memberships, single memberships, and other combinations that work best with your budget. Visit grymca.org to learn more about what they offer, membership pricing and more.

There are several YMCA locations in Greater Grand Rapids. You can ride The Rapid to the David D. Hunting YMCA, Mary Free Bed YMCA, Spartan Stores YMCA and the Visser Family YMCA. Plan your trip today!

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Rider Alert: Route 1 – Division Routing Change Effective Jan. 16, 2017

Route Change Notice

Beginning Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, Route 1 buses will no longer travel through the Kmart store parking lot at 68th and Clyde Park to the bus stop by the building at this store location. This is due to the closure of the Kmart store.  The bus stop at Kmart will be removed and the route rerouted to improve overall efficiency. The Route 1 buses will travel west on 68th Street from Division to Clyde Park, and then right on Clyde Park to Meijer at 54th Street.

Riders will still have access to this plaza via the current bus stop on 68th Street at the drive by Taco Bell, as well as a new bus stop at 68th Street and Clyde Park.

Route 1 Change Map
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8 Habits for Safer Winter Bus Travel

Winter bus travel

Cold weather? Check. Snowfall? Check. Icy sidewalks and roads? Check. Wind? Double check. Winter is here and it isn’t going to be dissipating anytime soon.

Battling winter weather conditions as a bus rider is a daily challenge. Sometimes it involves trudging through uncleared sidewalks and waiting at the bus stop in -5-degree temperatures. As you travel in the snow and cold, there are a few good habits to practice to ensure smarter and safer winter travel. Here are some habits to develop to make your bus travel smoother and more comfortable:

1. Leave early and expect delays.

Winter weather conditions affect all traffic. If the roads are covered in snow and ice, we will work to get you safely and efficiently to your destination. However, buses can only move as fast as traffic and road conditions allow. Consider taking an earlier bus on snow days to ensure that you arrive at your destination on time.

2. Dress for the weather. 

Warm attire is essential to winter bus travel. Even a short wait at the bus stop in the winter can seem like ages if you’re not wearing the proper gear. Layering your clothing is a good start to insulating yourself from inclement weather. It also helps tremendously to have a waterproof jacket. Other must-have winter bus travel accessories include gloves, scarf, hat or other head and ear cover, and most importantly, snow boots. Since the bus will be nice and warm when it arrives, you want to remove your outerwear once you’re on board for a more comfortable ride.

3. Wait in a safe, cleared location.

When the weather is heavy, bus stops may be completely covered in snow and ice. If possible, avoid standing knee-deep in snow or on top of a snow mound while you wait. Find the nearest cleared area and flag your bus down as it approaches. Rapid bus operators are trained to pick up passengers in driveways or the nearest cleared area during poor weather conditions. Plus, your dry toes will thank you.

4. Stand back before boarding.

When your bus arrives, be sure to put some distance between you and the vehicle. Icy roads can lead to slipping wheels, so protect yourself by stepping back from the curb or arrival area and farther into the safe zone of the sidewalk.

5. Step carefully.

While our buses feature non-slip floors, it’s important to step with care regardless. Use handrails when boarding the bus to ensure your safety.

6.  Be kind to your bus operator.

Your bus operator may be running behind schedule, but we can assure you that he or she wants to make the line up at Rapid Central Station just as much as you do. Please be respectful to your bus operator despite delays. If your bus is behind schedule, remember that your operator is doing his or her best to make sure you arrive at your destination despite bad road conditions.

7. Bring something to keep you occupied.

Since poor road conditions always run the risk of delay, there’s a chance you may be on board for longer than you originally planned. Bring a book, notepad, headphones or anything else that helps keep you busy while you’re riding with us.

8. Stay connected to service information.

 Before you leave to catch your bus, get the latest updates on detours:
– Check the Alerts & Detours page on ridetherapid.org.
– Track your bus in real time and check public service message on Rapid Connect.
– Call 776-1100 to speak to a Rapid Customer Information Representative.
– Sign up to get route alerts and public service messages to your email inbox or via text message.
– Follow The Rapid on Twitter and/or Facebook.
– Check local TV and radio stations when severe weather conditions occur.

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Ride The Rapid More in 2017

Rapid riders

A new year offers a chance for new intentions and goals. If you’re seeking something meaningful to stick with this year, there’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 hoping to find time to fit in more exercise or to make more time for yourself in 2017, riding the bus can help!

Here are seven reasons to ride the bus more in 2017:

1. Squeeze in more reading

Riding the bus means more time to cross books off 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 Books & Mortar on Cherry Street (located off of Routes 6 & 14) to keep your personal library stocked.

2. Get more steps

Did you know that public transit riders get more than three times the amount of physical activity per day than non-riders? Walking–or running, because we’ve all done it–to the bus stop is an easy way to sneak in extra steps every day. If getting in shape is in your plans for the new year, riding the bus is a simple way to increase your daily exercise. Start by using our “Nearest Stop” tool on ridetherapid.org to find the nearest bus stop to your home or workplace.

3. Save 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

For those seeking to expand their social circle in 2017, 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 stress

Sick of fighting traffic and the general stress that comes from your daily commute? Let the bus be your beacon for finding stress relief. Keep calm as we worry about getting you where you need to go safely and efficiently. Riding the bus in the winter can also be a perfect way to ease stress when road conditions are less than stellar.

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. Passengers continually share how much their extra downtime on the bus means to them.

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 2017?