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World of Winter Festival Transforms Downtown Grand Rapids from Feb. 14 -17

World of Winter Festival 2019

Got a case of the winter blues? We’ve got you covered. Hop on board for a ride to the second annual World of Winter Festival in downtown Grand Rapids. 

This four-day ice extravaganza begins on Feb. 14 and hosts a variety of free and low-cost frozen fun activities and events for all ages. Downtown Grand Rapids will be decorated with more than 50 ice sculptures, too! Don’t worry about driving in cold conditions. The Rapid offers many fare-free routes to help you get around easily.

Events on Feb. 14

Relax at Rosa on Ice

Spend your lunch hour enjoying free live music, free ice skating, ice games and more. You can also grab a bite from one of the local food trucks. The event begins at 12 p.m. and ends at 1:30 p.m. at Rosa Parks Circle.

Love on Ice

Looking for a romantic evening activity? Spend Valentine’s Day outside at Rosa Parks Circle! This event is from 6 – 10 p.m. and includes 2 for 1 ice skating, free professional photographs, free hot chocolate, and more!

Snowshoe at the Park

Enjoy the beauty of nature with snow under your feet! This free event is at Ah-Nab-Awen Park from 6 – 8 p.m. Snowshoes will be provided.

Events on Feb. 15

Valent-ICE

Enjoy over 50 ice sculptures around downtown. You can even join one of the walking tours provided by Downtown GR.

Silent Disco

This futuristic dance party begins at 7 p.m. at 555 Monroe Ave NW. Guests wear wireless headphones and can tune into any of the DJs’ channels. There will also be ice beer pong, food trucks, and a photo booth. This event is only for those 18+.

Events on Feb. 16

Black History Walking Tour

Grand Rapids Running Tours is hosting a free walk through Grand Rapids’ Black History.

Paint the Park

This community art experience is a great time for all ages. All ages are welcome to grab a brush and help paint the Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink from 12 – 6 p.m.

Events on Feb. 17

Human Hungry Hungry Hippos on Ice

Do you remember this fun board game? Watch it come to life on ice! You can register your team here until Feb. 1! This event is from 12:30 – 7:00 pm at Rosa Parks Circle.

Looking for more fun activities? Head here for the full list.

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Ride The Rapid to Events Throughout February 2019

February Events

There’s no shortage of winter fun all February long. Whether you’re planning a trip with your sweetheart in honor of Valentine’s Day or just avoiding cabin fever with your kids, there’s something for everyone’s calendar. 

Here are some events we can get you to this month:

Downtown Market Ice Bar: Tropical Chill

Need a fun Valentine’s Day date idea? Hop a ride over to the Downtown Market on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. You can enjoy frozen tundra yard games and frosty tropical cocktails from the Ice Bar.

Michigan International Auto Show

The Silver Line can get you within steps of DeVos Place for the coolest display of cars and trucks this year. The Auto Show runs from Jan. 31 – Feb. 3. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children.

Relax at Rosa on ICE: A World of Winter Event

Spend your lunch break with live music and food trucks! This event includes free ice skating, foosball and ice games. This is just one of many events that make up the World of Winter Festival running from Feb. 14 – Feb. 17.

Beer Month GR

Are you a Beer City Brewsader? Enjoy a month of specials at various craft breweries in GR. Beer Month takes place Feb. 15 – Mar. 15. Plenty of time to grab a pint and enjoy!

MAMMA MIA!

Take a ride to Grand Rapids Civic Theatre for this ultimate feel-good show. This musical is showing Feb. 22 – 24, 27 – 28 and Mar. 1 – 3, 6 – 10 and 13 – 17. You won’t want to miss it.

Taste of Soul Sunday

Celebrate African American history and culture at Grand Rapids Public Library. Free food samples, live music, and family crafts will be available as well. The event is on Feb. 17 from 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Chiaroscuro International Film Series

You can catch two of the showings on Feb. 10 and Feb. 24 for free at the UICA. The event is free and open to the public.

Artist Talk: Dylan Miner

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is hosting activist and scholar, Dylan Miner to talk about his GRAM exhibition Water is Sacred // Trees are Relative. Enjoy this free discussion about the Great Lakes watershed and region on Feb. 21 from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Disney On Ice presents Frozen

On Feb. 28, take your family to Van Andel Arena for a night of Disney magic and your favorite Frozen characters. Ticket prices vary. 

Valentine’s Dash 5K

Explore the trails and roads of Kentwood on Feb. 9 with your sweetheart. Starting at the Kentwood Library at 11 a.m., this course is great for first-time runners but will also provide a challenge to more experienced runners. There’s even an after-party with music, Valentines-themed snacks, a photo booth, the award ceremony and

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The Rapid Teams up With Kids’ Food Basket for Emergency Food Distribution

The Rapid teams up with Kids' Food Basket

The Rapid is proud to partner with Kids’ Food Basket to provide emergency food assistance to families impacted by the extreme weather. Rapid Central Station, along with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, Seymour Christian Reformed Church and Kids’ Food Basket will be distribution sites for food on Thursday, Jan. 31 and Friday, February 1, from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

 “During severe weather events like this one, we all have to pull together to meet the critical needs of our community. We’re glad Kids’ Food Basket reached out and are happy to support their efforts,” Andrew Johnson, The Rapid CEO.

Location information:

  • — The David D. Hunting YMCA, 475 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • — Families visiting the downtown YMCA location can enter through the main entrance and follow the signage to the community room to receive your meal.
  • — The Rapid Central Station, 250 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • — Seymour Christian Reformed Church, 840 Alger St SE, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • — Kids’ Food Basket, 2055 Oak Industrial Drive, Suite C, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Kids’ Food Basket serves over 8,000 kids at 48 schools in Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Holland. More than 250 volunteers each day help prepare, pack and deliver Sack Suppers

Anyone wanting to help can click here for more information.

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The Rapid’s Outstanding Employees of 2018

Employees of the Year 2018

Each January, we gather to acknowledge and celebrate the excellence of our employees. We recognize the year’s most exceptional administrative employee, technician and bus operator. This year, we’re proud to announce The Rapid’s 2018 Employees of the Year.

Dennis H. – Technician of the Year

Dennis H is a technician at The Rapid

Sidney W. – Bus Operator of the Year

Sidney is Bus Operator of the Year

 Emily S. – Recruitment Administrator, Administrative Employee of the Year

Emily Admin Employee of the Year
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Ride The Rapid to Events Throughout January 2019

January 2019 Events

Hello, 2019! Avoid cabin fear and welcome in the new year by getting out and exploring.

Here are some events we can get you to this month:

Funniest Person in Grand Rapids (Week 1)

Are you the funniest person in Grand Rapids? Dr. Grin’s Comedy Club is hosting a competition on Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. to glean the top comedy talent in West Michigan. Contestants will duke it out for $1,500 and the tile of “Funniest Person In Grand Rapids 2019!” Tickets are $5

Winter Market Opening Day

Fulton Street Market opens for the winter season on Jan. 5 and runs through April 27. Don’t miss out on local fare in the winter months! There will be a colorful array of 20+ vendors with locally-grown produce, Michigan-raised meats, dairy, and eggs, food creations and artisan goods! View the market schedule here

Snowshoe Hike

Visit Blandford Nature Center to “test-drive” a pair of snowshoes on Jan. 5! While practicing your snowshoe skills, hike along with one of our naturalists to discover the secret world hidden within the Winter Wonderland at Blandford Nature Center. Register and get your tickets here

Indie Flea Market

The first Saturday of every month, visit Wealthy Theatre for access to ethically and environmentally responsible local vendors. Shop and enjoy local music while you find the perfect gifts for you or someone you love. This event is free and takes place on Jan. 5. 

Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra Live

Visit Founders Taproom on Jan. 6 to enjoy tunes from the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. This is a free event. 

Grand Rapids Camper, Travel and RV Show

Ride with us to DeVos place for The Grand Rapids Camper, Travel & RV Show. This event features a dozen West Michigan RV dealers representing more than 100 RV lines combined with 200,000+ square feet results in the biggest RV Show in the state. Along with new RV’s, we have a remarkable selection of RV accessories, campgrounds and travel destinations! This event takes place Jan. 17 – 20. Get your tickets here.

Pop Up Record Swap and Shop

Harmony Brewing is hosting their first ever record swap event on Jan. 10 from 7 – 11 p.m. Ride with us to get to Harmony and bring your records to sell or swap. They will have an open mic-style DJ set up. Eat, drink, groove and enjoy!

Downtown Market Wedding Showcase

On Jan. 12 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., visit the Downtown Market to get a look at all of this venue’s fantastic wedding capabilities. This event features a tour, tastings, a chance to meet photographers and videographers and so much more. 

Poetry Showcase at The Knickerbocker – New Holland Brewing

If you love poetry, you won’t want to miss this showcase on Jan. at The Knickerbocker. This event will be hosted by Rachel Gleason and feature special guest artists Regina Cassese, Jocelyn J Barnes, and Amanda Zerilli. The special feature this time around will be KFG. Learn more about this event here.

WinterWest 

WinterWest is a winter fun, free event in collaboration with the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Rec Department, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and West Grand Neighborhood Organization to encourage outdoor park engagement during the chilly winter months.

This event is free to the public. The popular youth and adult crazy cardboard sled races return this year! Bring your family and friends and enjoy hot chocolate, kid activities, snowman and snow fort building, and more!

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The Rapid’s 2018 Year in Review

2018 Year in Review

What a year we’ve had. Looking back, we’ve had a number of high notes in 2018. We welcome a new CEO, launched our new fare payment system, partnered with the City of Grand Rapids and Spectrum Health to relaunch Route 19, add more CNG vehicles to our fleet and so much more.

Thank you to everyone who helped make 2018 a great year. We can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.

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$696,000 federal grant to help spur economic development along The Rapid’s Silver Line route

Silver Line in the winter at Rapid Central Station

The Rapid has received a $696,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of a new $945,000 effort to plan for development along the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit line, focusing on the Division Avenue corridor from Wealthy to 60th streets.

The FTA grant, combined with a new $174,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation and $25,000 in grants from each Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming, is funding a $945,000 study that will identify strategies to spur economic development along the Silver Line route, which opened in 2014 and connects the three communities.

“We recognize that in Greater Grand Rapids, business grows where The Rapid goes,” said Andrew Johnson, president and CEO of The Rapid. “These grants reflect the understanding that quality, reliable public transportation boosts property values near transit corridors, encourages real estate and economic development, promotes diverse and inclusive communities, and helps make the region stronger and more competitive.”

The Silver Line is Michigan’s first bus rapid transit route, a 9.6-mile system stretching north-south along the Division Avenue corridor. It runs into the core of Grand Rapids, where about $2 billion in investments has occurred in the city’s Medical Mile. The Division Avenue corridor at the southern end of the line has the highest total population, greatest density and most transit-dependent residents compared with other routes, offering significant potential development opportunities.

Average weekday ridership along the corridor has increased by 37 percent since the Silver Line’s launch, including a 34 percent increase in Saturday ridership, a 45 percent increase in Sunday ridership and a total annual ridership increase of 39 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the most recent data available.

“We look forward to continuing to partner with leaders of The Rapid and from each of our respective neighboring communities,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington. “Our goal is to develop a shared vision that promotes economic vibrancy along the Silver Line route and builds an even stronger transportation network that includes bus, bicycle and pedestrian connections and alternative transportation options.”

Key deliverables from the FTA grant include:

  • — Assessing the current market conditions on the corridor, including housing and employment.
  • — Identifying barriers and opportunities for driving economic development along the corridor, prioritizing equitable development.
  • — Formulating planning policies, educational tools and initiatives that coordinate with economic development strategies along the corridor.

“We welcome the planning assistance of the FTA and look forward to recommendations that could improve the economic growth and redevelopment of the corridor that links our communities,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley.

Business, civic and local government leaders agree attracting talent to Greater Grand Rapids is a critical element to the region’s future economic success and that easy access to public transit is an important quality-of-life consideration, especially among millennials.

“We are grateful for the FTA’s confidence in our communities as we seek to leverage the assets that are inherent in the Division Avenue corridor,” said Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll. “We are excited to build upon the great work that has already taken place, and we look forward to identifying strategies that will serve to benefit our residents and businesses.”

The Rapid grant for the Silver Line is among a total of $16.6 million awarded to 20 organizations around the country that will support comprehensive planning projects to improve access to public transportation. The funds are made available through FTA’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning, which assists communities that are developing new or expanded mass transit systems.

“Convenient and safe access to public transportation can improve mobility,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.

The Pilot Program for TOD Planning provides funding to project sponsors that will integrate land use and transportation planning efforts with eligible transit projects. The grants fund comprehensive planning to support transit ridership, multimodal connectivity and mixed-use development near transit stations. In fiscal year 2018, FTA has awarded more than $15 billion in funding through both formula and competitive grant programs to support public transportation.

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The Rapid’s 2018 Holiday Service

The Rapid's Holiday Service Schedule

We wish you a joyous holiday season! Here is our service schedule for the upcoming holidays:

CHRISTMAS EVE, MONDAY, DECEMBER 24

Radial service from Central Station

  • — The 5:45 pm and 6:15 pm lineups will be the last to depart Central Station;
  • — The 5:45 pm lineup (Routes 5, 6, 9 and 16) will operate their entire trip, terminating service when they arrive at Central Station at 7:05 pm (route 5 – 735P);
  • — The longer routes at the 6:15 pm lineup (Routes 1, 2, 4, 8, and 15) will deadhead back to the garage at the conclusion of their outbound trip;
  • — The shorter routes at the 6:15 pm lineup (Routes 3, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18) will operate their entire trip, terminating service when they arrive back at Central Station between 7:05 – 7:10 pm;
  • — The last trip on Route 17 will depart Woodland Mall 6:53 pm, terminating at Woodland Mall at 7:27 pm.
  • –The last trip on the Silver Line will depart Central Station at 6:30 pm. When it reaches the end of the line at 60th Street, it will deadhead back to the garage. The Silver Line bus that departs Central Station at 6:00 pm will operate its entire trip, terminating at Central Station at 7:10 pm.

University Service

  • — Route 50 (Campus Connector) will not be operating at all from December 22, 2018 through January 1, 2019;
  • — Route 60 (GRCC Sneden Shuttle) will not be in operation from December 17, 2018 through January 6, 2019;
  • — Route 100 (Ferris State) will not be in operation from December 17, 2018 through January 8, 2019;

Crosstown Service

  • — Route 19 will operate eastbound trips until terminating at 522 Plymouth (Spectrum parking lot) at 748P. The last westbound trip will terminate at Second / Stocking at 750P;
  • — Route 24 will operate eastbound trips until terminating at Woodland Mall at 6:42 pm. The last westbound trip will terminate at the Grandville Library at 6:48 pm;
  • — Route 28 will operate eastbound trips until terminating at Woodland Mall at 7:03 pm. The last westbound trip will terminate at 28th/Clyde Park at 7:17 pm;
  • — Route 44 will operate eastbound trips until terminating at Woodland Mall at 7:21 pm. The last westbound trip will terminate at the Rivertown Walmart at 7:03 pm;

DASH Service

  • — The last trip on DASH West will depart Area 9 on Seward at 7:30 pm until terminating at Area 9 at 7:51 pm.
  • — The last trip southbound on DASH North will depart Ionia / Leonard at 7:34 pm until terminating at the Downtown Market at 7:47 pm.
  • –The last northbound trip on DASH North will depart the Downtown Market at 7:34P until terminating at Ionia / Leonard at 7:47 pm.

CHRISTMAS DAY, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25

No buses will be in operation.

NEW YEAR’S EVE, MONDAY, DECEMBER 31

Again, GVSU Route 50 will not be in operation. All other routes will operate their normal schedules.

NEW YEAR’S DAY, TUESDAY, JANUARY 1

No buses will be in operation.

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The Rapid’s Commuter Gift Guide

commuter-gift-guide-2018-1

Are you looking for creative gifts for the Grand Rapids commuter in your life? We’ve got you covered. Here are our top 10 transit-friendly gift ideas:

1. Schuler’s Gift Card

Schulers Books

A good book and some even better tunes are a commuting mainstay. A Schuler Books & Music gift card gives your favorite commuter access to books, music, unique gift items and a full-service gourmet cafe. The best part about this gift is that it allows you to support an independent, locally-owned business in the community.

2. Portable Charger

Black Portable Charger

When you’re on the go, you never want to be stuck without a charged battery. A compact portable charger is the perfect accessory for any travel bag.

3. Wave Card

Wave Card

Give the gift of transit this holiday season. If the commuter in your life takes the bus, consider purchasing them a Wave card and loading funds onto it. If they already have a Wave card, offer to load up their card as a gift.

4. Travel Umbrella

Commuter Travel Umbrella

Getting stuck in the rain can ruin a commute. Travel umbrellas are a necessity for ensuring that weather won’t get in the way of your day. This one, in particular, is conveniently compact.

5. Non-Woven Grocery Tote from Clothing Matters

Grocery Tote

A reusable tote bag is truly a great gift for anyone. However, they’re particularly handy for those frequently on the go. We love the Clothing Matters brand tote bag because it’s made of eco-conscious polypropylene. Clothing Matters has a vibrant retail location at 141 Diamond Ave

6. Gloves from West Michigan Bike and Fitness

Gloves

Michigan’s cold weather can do a number on your hands. Keep your favorite commuter cozy (and safe) in cold weather with a pair of Bontrager’s RXL Thermal Gloves from West Michigan Bike and Fitness. They are moisture wicking and provide an excellent grip.

7. Safety Reflectors

Red LED Safety Reflector

Visibility is crucial to the safety of any commuter. LED safety reflectors are a lightweight and versatile safety accessory that can easily fit on a wrist, ankle, backpack or arm.

8. Sunglasses

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an excellent gift for the stylish commuter in your life. These polarized sunglasses filter out sunlight reflected flare to protect the eyes from long-term damage of harmful UVA and UVB rays.

9. Earmuff Headphones

Black earmuff Headphones

Bluetooth, rechargeable earmuffs will keep ears warm and make sure that being comfortable doesn’t sacrifice access to good tunes or podcasts.

10. Boots

Black Waterproof Rain Boots

Waterproof boots are an absolute necessity in Michigan. Give the gift of dry feet with a pair of waterproof boots!

11. Commuter Backpack

Backpack

If you’re looking to splurge on a loved one, consider a utilitarian commuter backpack. Whether walking, biking or riding the bus, a wearable bag is essential to smart travel. We love this one from REI.

12. New York Times Crossword Puzzle Subscription

Crossword

The New York Times Crossword Puzzle is the ultimate gift for any commuter. For just $40, you can give your favorite person the gift of challenging puzzles for a whole year. This subscription even enables the user to play across any of their devices.

Happy Holidays!

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The Rapid and Kent District Library Launch Books on the Bus Program

Books on the Bus Little Free Library

The Rapid is pleased to partner with Kent District Library to offer the Books on the Bus program on buses traveling throughout the Greater Grand Rapids area. The program provides a collection of books for all ages that are conveniently placed on buses for riders to enjoy. With a book selection that will rotate consistently, riders will always have new books available.

The average bus rider commutes 25 minutes each day. This provides the perfect opportunity to do some reading or to pick up a book to enjoy later.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to make riding The Rapid an even more enjoyable experience,” said The Rapid’s CEO Andrew Johnson. “We are proud to partner with KDL to make connecting to reading even more convenient.”

Books are currently housed on 13 Rapid buses, with plans to increase that number to 16. These buses are used on different routes every day, which offers riders a chance to access books throughout The Rapid’s service area. The collection includes gently used books, many which are new and bestsellers.

Kent District Library is also pleased to offer a Little Free Library in Rapid Central Station. The structure will house around 50 books, including youth, teen and adult fiction and nonfiction materials. People are encouraged to take a book or leave a book.

“This is just another exciting way we are making books accessible to people wherever they might be,” said Sara Proano, manager of community engagement for KDL.

Forest Hills Transition Center is partnering with KDL to provide the volunteers to re-stock the shelves at The Rapid for the Books on the Bus project.