Posted in Places to Go on

Thrifty Thursday: Ride The Rapid to Jazz in the Park

Jazz in the Park

Summer may be half over but it’s not too late to hop on The Rapid and ride downtown to listen to jazz at Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

Every Monday, the West Michigan Jazz Society hosts Jazz in the Park from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Use this event at your weekly chance to get outside, relax and take in the music. Jazz in the Park is an all-ages event and is free to attend.

Here’s a line-up of performers playing for the rest of the summer:

July 31- Metro Jazz Voices

August 7 – Mary Rademacher & The Fred Knapp Quartet

August 14 – WMJS’s 2017 Musician of the Year, pianist and vocalist Dr. Robin Connell

For more information on performers, visit wmichjazz.org.

 

Posted in News on

The Rapid and City of Grand Rapids rolling out Michigan’s largest fleet of CNG buses

Rapid Compressed Natural Gas Bus

The Rapid and the City of Grand Rapids unveiled a new plan to roll out what will become Michigan’s largest fleet of environmentally friendly buses and that will soon be cruising the streets of Downtown and Greater Grand Rapids.

The new buses will be better than ever for the local environment by using compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel source instead of diesel. Bus riders will see 33 of the alternative fuel vehicles in 2017, including 28 in service for The Rapid on bus lines throughout Greater Grand Rapids and five for the City’s free DASH shuttle service in Downtown operated by The Rapid.

Plans call for The Rapid’s 150-vehicle fleet to include 92 CNG buses by 2021, which will make up Michigan’s largest system of natural gas-powered buses. The City plans to purchase an additional four CNG vehicles in 2018 for the DASH and replace its entire fleet of diesel-fueled DASH buses over the next three years.

“This investment demonstrates an important collaboration of innovative partners within our community, using the most sustainable, clean, cost-effective and safe products on the market for transportation solutions,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, who kicked off the announcement during a news conference at the city’s Sixth Street Bridge Park, where the new buses were on display.

“Through a strong partnership between the City and The Rapid, we can use these new vehicles to continue our efforts that improve the quality of the air we breathe and the environment we enjoy,” she said. “This plan also allows us to be even more efficient stewards of taxpayer dollars by reducing the cost of operations moving forward.”

Mayor Bliss was joined at the news conference by City of Walker Mayor Mark Huizenga; Grand Rapids Second Ward City Commissioners Ruth Kelly and Joe Jones; Michael Bulthuis, The Rapid’s Public Outreach Coordinator of Community Engagement; Mobile GR and Parking Manager Josh Naramore; DASH Program Manager Barbara Singleton; Mary Judnich, regional manager for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow; and Teresa Cuellar, regional coordinator for U.S. Senator Gary Peters.

“The citizens of Walker recognize and appreciate the importance of identifying innovative solutions that reduce energy consumption – we applaud The Rapid and the City for their accomplishment,” Mayor Huizenga said. “By reinvesting the cost savings into additional alternative energy technologies, we can help make our communities even healthier now and in the future.”

Over the five-year period, the transition to CNG buses will:

  • Reduce The Rapid and Mobile GR’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1 million metric tons over the use of diesel. CNG buses produce up to 20-30 percent fewer emissions than diesel-powered buses.
  • Pose no threat to land or water if a spill occurs as CNG is nontoxic.
  • Generate a combined total savings of $4.5 million because the cost of CNG is projected to remain about 60 percent ss than diesel.
  • Ensure access to an American-made fuel source with an abundant 100-year supply, diminishing Greater Grand Rapids’ reliance on foreign oil.

“We are very enthusiastic about this announcement because energy efficiency is a pillar of Grand Rapids’ sustainability strategies,” said Commissioner Jones. “The addition of these new CNG buses into The Rapid and City inventory will better provide for a green operating environment.”

In 2015, The Rapid board approved a $13 million contract funded entirely through federal and state grants to buy 28 40-foot-long CNG buses. The acquisition funds came from a $10.4 million Federal Transit Administration grant that was “proudly supported by both Michigan Sens. Stabenow and Gary Peters,” as well as a $2.6 million grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Judnich said.

The Grand Rapids City Commission approved the $2.3 million purchase of five 35-foot-long DASH CNG buses entirely with local funds. Both orders are through Gillig, a Livermore, Calif.-based manufacturer that is among the nation’s leading bus producers.

The Rapid is responsible for operating and maintaining the new CNG fleet. In 2016, The Rapid board also approved a $5.3 million contract with Walker-based Triangle Inc. to build a new facility at 1020 Market Ave. SW in Grand Rapids, about one mile southwest of The Rapid Central Station, that will fuel the transportation system’s fleet of CNG transit buses. The facility is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-August 2017.

The Rapid averages nearly 1 million rides every month and provides approximately 12 million rides annually. The system serves Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming, Grandville and Walker. Ridership on the DASH continues to grow and is around 30,000 riders a month and just under 400,000 rides annually.

“Using compressed natural gas to fuel our buses is a four-way winner – it’s clean, affordable, abundant and American-made,” said Commissioner Kelly. “The wise decisions made by The Rapid and Mobile GR boards have put Greater Grand Rapids in a position that is ideally suited to meet our area’s public transportation and environmental stewardship needs today and tomorrow.”

Posted in Events on

You’re Invited: The Rapid & Mobile GR Unveil Largest Fleet of CNG buses in Michigan

CNG invite

Greater Grand Rapids bus riders can expect to see 33 new alternative fuel, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles hitting the road this year. This includes 28 fixed-route vehicles and five DASH buses.

On Monday, July 24, The Rapid and Mobile GR are teaming up to unveil the largest fleet of compressed buses in Michigan. This upgrade reflects our system’s commitment to improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Greater Grand Rapids. CNG is a cleaner burning fuel source than diesel.

Over the five-year period, the transition to CNG buses will: Reduce The Rapid and Mobile GR greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1 million metric tons over the use of diesel; generate a total combined cost saving of $4.5 million because CNG costs nearly 60% less than diesel, and; ensure access to an American-made fuel source with an abundant 100-year supply, diminishing Greater Grand Rapids’ reliance on foreign oil.

Join The Rapid and Mobile GR at 6th Street Bridge Park on Monday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m. to come check out brand new CNG vehicles. There will be free ice cream for all attendees, as well as an appearance from Griff of the Grand Rapids Griffins!

Speakers at this event include Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss; Walker Mayor Mark Huizenga; Grand Rapids City Commissioners Ruth E. Kelly and Joseph D. Jones; representatives from The Rapid and Mobile GR.

Plan your trip to 6th Street Bridge Park on DASH or The Rapid.

Posted in News on

Introducing The Wave: The Rapid’s New E-Fare System

Catch The Wave reader

Faster, easier and more convenient fare payment is coming to The Rapid in early 2018.

In the past few weeks, you may have noticed a new addition to the bus while boarding. The blue box with a screen located near the bus operator is an electronic fare payment reader. This reader is one of the main features of The Rapid’s new e-fare system, The Wave, which is a new way for passengers to pay their fares.

The Wave e-fare system features plastic smart cards and a mobile ticketing smartphone app. These cards and the app will hold pay-as-you-go value to make travel even more effortless than before! You will be able to purchase their fares or add funds online, at ticket vending machines, Rapid Central Station or at a large network of retailers like Meijer and local convenience stores. They will then be able to simply tap their smart card or scan their mobile ticketing smartphone app as they board to pay their fare.

The Rapid is the first Michigan public transportation agency to introduce this innovative e-fare payment system. Here are a few reasons why we’re making the switch to e-fare:

Faster & Easier

Say goodbye to paper tickets or struggling to find the exact fare. With The Wave, you’ll simply need to touch your card to the reader every time you board or transfer. There will be Wave readers on every busy and at every Silver Line Station. This means faster boarding times and no fussing with inserting paper tickets or cash into the farebox.

Save As You Ride

When you ride The Rapid using your Wave smart card you can get the savings of daily, weekly and monthly passes, but without the commitment or the upfront cost. You pay your way one trip at a time, and you’ll never pay for a trip you don’t take. The Wave will give you the best deal on your fare based on how much you ride. It’s a ‘pay-as-you-go’ pass: Earn a day pass after riding twice in one day, or a monthly pass after riding twice a day for 20 days.

In other words, once you’ve reached the cost of a monthly pass, you’ll receive unlimited rides for the rest of the month. So everyone gets the savings of a pass without the upfront cost.

Better for the Environment

The Rapid currently prints more than 2.5 million paper tickets each year, including an estimated 300,000 transfers that are never used. The Wave e-fare system features a plastic smart card that will last you 10 years or the option of using the mobile ticketing for your smartphone.

Load Value Anywhere

Top off your account anywhere, anytime using your smartphone, The Wave website, visiting the Information Center at Rapid Central Station and at participating retailers. Or choose auto-load to add funds when your balance is low.

It’s simple. Once you add a payment method to your account, just choose the balance amount you want auto-load to kick in at and then select the amount you want to add to your Wave card.

Account Management

You can quickly register your card and set up a funding source using our mobile-friendly website or app. Your Wave account allows you to manage multiple cards, see a history of your recent trips and transactions, and deactivate/reactivate a lost or stolen card. And don’t forget to set up auto-load, so you’re never stuck without fare.

Interested in catching The Wave before it launches? Become a pilot tester! Visit http://ridetherapid.org/the-wave and sign up now and learn more about The Wave.

Don’t forget, cash will always be an accepted payment method on board the bus and there is no fare increase involved with e-fare. 

Posted in Places to Go on

Ride The Rapid to Furniture City Creamery and Cool Off with a Delicious Treat

Furniture City Creamery Sign

Cool down this summer with a delicious, handcrafted ice cream treat made right here in Grand Rapids!

We partner with FOX 17 to bring you awesome, transit-friendly deals throughout Grand Rapids and the suburbs. This past week, we featured Funiture City Creamery in the East Hills neighborhood on Cherry Street near Diamond. This quaint shop is packed with more than 20 flavors of ice cream. They even have vegan and dairy-free options so everyone can enjoy a cool treat.

Flavors to Try

Some Furniture City Creamery flavors you’ll want to check out: Lucky Charms, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Covered Pretzel, vegan Black Licorice, Salted Caramel and vegan Peppermint Pattie!

They also have floats, shakes and ice cream sandwiches!

Discover your new favorite ice cream spot:

You can ride Routes 4, 6, and 14 to Furniture City Creamery!

Posted in Places to Go on

7 Free Events to Enjoy in July 2017

Summer in Grand Rapids

We’ve entered one of Michigan’s most magical seasons. Michigan summers are the perfect time for exploration, new activities and, most importantly, fun! Fortunately for Grand Rapidians and those living in surrounding transit-friendly suburbs, there are a number of outdoor events to ensure you’re able to embrace the sunshine and warmth promised in July. The best part is that all of these events are free to the public.

Whether it’s watching your favorite local band or musician in the park, catching a movie or exploring your local farmer’s market, there are so many reasons to hop on board the bus and let us do the driving to these fun summer events. If you’re looking for the best deal and aren’t a frequent Rapid rider, purchase a 10-Ride Card to use for riding to these events.

Catch a Movie
Movies in the Park in Ah-Nab-Awen Park takes place on July 7, 21 and 28th. Ride Routes 7 and 9 to catch films like Mrs. Doubtfire, Jaws and Zootopia. The new LED screen means that movies can start before dark at 7 p.m.! Come early to reserve your spot, enjoy activities, games, music and goodies from the food trucks before the movies start.  View the full film lineup for 2017.

Routes 7, 9

Enjoy Concerts in Kentwood
On July 13, and 27, ride Routes 2 and 44 to Kentwood City Hall for live music from 7 – 8:30 p.m for the Kentwood City Summer Entertainment Series. The Mainstays will play on the 13th and Look Out Lincoln will be on the 20th and The Tomas Esparza Blues Band plays on the 27th. This event also features food trucks and more! Grab your blanket or a chair for some Thursday evening fun.

Route 2, 44

Get fit

Every Monday through Thursday, you can find a variety of fitness classes taking place throughout downtown Grand Rapids thanks to the Stay Fit Downtown Class Series. This 9-week program is a joint effort through Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the City of Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation Department. Free, no-registration classes include Zumba, ballroom dancing, kickboxing and more. Classes take place at Rosa Parks Circle, the Blue Bridge and the JW Marriott Lobby.

Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6+

Listen to Music in Walker

The Standale Summer Concert Series takes place July 13 with Strumble Head and July 27 with Brena Band at Walker Community Park. Music starts playing at 6:30 p.m. and the fun lasts until 8:30 p.m. Ride Routes 12 and 50 to get there, pack a picnic and enjoy a beautiful evening with local tunes!

Route 12, 50

Explore the Market with your Kids
Grab your children and get on board the Silver Line or Routes 1 and 2 to head to the Downtown Market for free fun for kids every week in July. You can expect crafts, educational activities and more! Each week, Kids at the Market has a new theme that your children will love. While you’re there, grab lunch or a snack and do a bit of shopping.
Routes 1, 2, SL

Experience Hands-On Learning at the Museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum is opening their doors for a day of free admission on July 16 from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Explore all three floors of exhibits and dive into hands-on fun for the whole family. Make a day out of it by riding Routes 7 and 9 and enjoying lunch or dinner at a downtown Grand Rapids eatery.

Routes 1, 2, SL

Groove to Jazz in the Park

Every Monday, ride Routes 7 and 9 to Ah-Nab-Awen Park to enjoy an evening of jazz presented by the West Michigan Jazz Society. Some of this month’s upcoming acts include Metro Jazz Voices, Kevin Jones Band and The Lakeshore Big Band.

Routes 7, 9

Stock up at Local Farmers Market

How close is your nearest farmers market? There are so many that are transit-friendly throughout Grand Rapids, Grandville, Wyoming and Kentwood! Grab your reusable shopping bags, hop on board the bus and ride to your favorite farmers market to enjoy local produce and goods. You can even ride Route 14 straight to the Fulton Street Farmers Market every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday!

Route 14

Posted in Places to Go on

Ride The Rapid to Movies in the Park 2017

Movies in the Park 2017

Ride The Rapid Routes 7 and 9 to enjoy an evening in Ah-Nab-Awen Park with movies, games, music, food and so much more!

Movies in the Park is back and better than ever before. If you haven’t been to this bi-weekly summer event at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids before, make sure to get one of the movie dates on your calendar. It’s the perfect chance to enjoy a budget-friendly evening with your friends or family in one of Grand Rapids’ beautiful riverfront parks. Along with the movies, attendees also have access to games, food trucks, a live DJ and much more before and in between movies.

This year, attendees can watch their favorite movies on a new LED screen. This means that you can now catch a double feature with the first film starting at 7 p.m. and an additional feature at 9:30 p.m.

Upcoming movies:

July 7

  • –    7 p.m. – Mrs. Doubtfire (PG-13)
  • –    9:30 p.m. – Forrest Gump (PG-13)

July 21

  • –    7 p.m. – The Book of Life (PG)
  • –    9:30 p.m. -Jaws (PG)

August 4

  • –    7 p.m. – Selena (PG)
  • –    9:30 p.m. – The Bodyguard (R)

August 18

  • –    Remember the Titans (PG)
  • –    Pitch Perfect (PG-13)

Some tips for making the most out of this event include getting their early so you can get a great spot and ride The Rapid or your bike to save money and time with parking. Costumes are encouraged for children and adults. For those 21+, bring your own alcoholic beverages and photo ID so you can enjoy them during the event.

Here’s our recent Thrifty Thursday feature with our friends at FOX 17:

Posted in News on

Holland Home Raybrook Manor Residents Learn to Ride the Bus

Holland Home tour

If you’re interested in learning how to ride The Rapid, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, turning it into a group event can make it an even more enjoyable experience.

On Tuesday, June 20, a group of residents from Holland Home Raybrook Manor took a vehicle familiarization trip to downtown Grand Rapids. The Rapid’s free Travel Training program is designed to help individuals and groups, especially seniors and persons with disabilities, maintain their freedom and independence by learning how to utilize public transportation to move around their community. The group from Holland Home Raybrook Manor is part of R.E.A.L., which stands for the Resident Enrichment Academy for Living. This group seeks to encourage residents to continue to be actively involved in their community.

After learning how to ride the bus, the Holland Home residents then rode downtown to the Grand Rapids Art Museum to take advantage of Meijer Free Tuesdays. Every Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., admission is waived for the public. This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a wallet-friendly adventure. Riding the bus to get to the Grand Rapids Art Museum can also save you money on parking and the stress of finding the perfect spot. There are several bus lines that can get you just steps away from the museum’s doors.

Vehicle Familiarization Travel Training

For many of the residents in attendance, this was their first time riding public transportation in Grand Rapids since the 1950s. A lot has changed on buses since those days. Today, all fixed-route service buses are lift-equipped and handicap accessible. This made our time on the vehicle even more rewarding, as it was a chance to go over new features and establish a level of comfort and safety. Our Travel Trainers focus on ensuring that passengers with mobility devices can experience boarding, deboarding and everything in between.

For more information on our Travel Training program or to set up an appointment, visit https://www.ridetherapid.org/howtoride/travel-training.

Posted in Rider Stories on

Rider Stories: Letting Go and Other Thoughts on Riding The Rapid

The Bus at Rapid Central Station

The following is written by Anthony Wilder Puzzuoli, a Grand Rapids citizen and Rapid rider. One of Anthony’s 2017 resolutions is to ride all of The Rapid’s routes. He’s sharing his experiences with us as he goes. You can find his first blog here.

I’ve taken the bus a handful of times, with all the trips being for pleasure, and nothing really time sensitive like getting to a meeting or being to work. I’ve been to the bar. I’ve gone out to eat. My wife and I went on a date. I met some interesting people. So far, it’s been a fun experience. I’d like to share a few insights from my travels.

LETTING GO

One of the most pleasant things about riding the bus so far, for me, has been giving up control. When I travel around town, typically I’m riding my bike, walking or driving. Basically, I’m the one doing the traveling. I’m paying attention, I’m trying to be safe, I’m trying to avoid broken glass and over-friendly dogs. There is a constant level of focus on my surroundings that I need to sustain.

When I first sat down on the bus, I experienced a feeling of panic! I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing I had to do! I just got to sit and after I realized that the driver wasn’t going to ask me to drive the bus or to be on the lookout for potholes, I relaxed. It was glorious. I didn’t realize how much of my mind space during traveling is focused on the act of the traveling. Riding the bus, I could fill my mind with other things. I thought about the book I had been reading, conversations I had at work, I took the time to notice the buildings, streets and people I saw out the window. I almost could have fallen asleep. When I first sat down on the bus, I experienced a feeling of panic! I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing I had to do! After I realized that the driver wasn’t going to ask me to drive the bus or to be on the lookout for potholes, I relaxed. It was glorious. I didn’t realize how much of my mind space during traveling is focused on the act of the traveling. Riding the bus, I could fill my mind with other things. I thought about the book I had been reading, conversations I had at work, I took the time to notice the buildings, streets and people I saw out the window. I almost could have fallen asleep.

GIMMIE SHELTER

On one of my trips, there was a light drizzle when I left the bar to return home. As I stood at the stop getting damp, a fellow passenger informed me that the bus was running late. He had used his phone to check. He suggested that we’d be better off taking a different route back to Central Station and we moved to the intersecting street to wait for a different bus. As we stood outside the drizzle turned to rain and I realized that nowhere at this intersection was a bus shelter. We moved to the awning of a closed business and waited for the bus to arrive. When the bus arrived, our trip didn’t end as we had another connection to catch to get back to Central Station. This time there was a shelter and other passengers chatted while we waited. In retrospect, it probably would have been better to just wait for the original bus. The late arrival of the bus, the rain, lack of shelter and waiting give me the feeling of being a bit exposed and out of my comfort zone. However, the willingness of the fellow passengers to share information, and converse to pass the time made the unanticipated journey enjoyable. Lesson learned: Bring an umbrella and a friendly smile!

DATE NIGHT

My wife and I rode the bus to Tillman’s  with plans to go to a different bar for drinks afterward. Now the bus might not be most people’s idea of a romantic mode of transportation however, we didn’t have to worry about parking, driving our car after drinking, or the moral dilemma of taking an Uber home. We could just enjoy each other’s company, which is the makes it a very romantic mode of date transportation. Also, because the DASH doesn’t run on Saturday nights, we had to walk a little further and enjoyed a stroll over the river. Date night bonus! After dinner, the bus dropped us off a block from Bridge Street with numerous bars being just a quick walk away. Truth be told, we walked home that night making our dinner date a true multimodal trip.

BUS RIDING BY THE NUMBERS

Routes I’ve ridden: 1, 4, 5, 7, 24

New businesses visited: 2
Wing Avenue (803 Burton Street SE): Friendly service and great wings.
Silver Derby (816 Burton Street SE):  Cold beer served quickly.

 

AnthonyAnthony Wilder Puzzuoli has lived in Grand Rapids since 2002 when he moved here to attend Aquinas College. He’s worked at Local First as Membership Coordinator for the last few years and has recently started riding The Rapid as a way to explore the city. One of his favorite things about living in Grand Rapids is being so close to the lakeshore.

Posted in Places to Go on

Thrifty Thursday: Ride The Rapid to Craig’s Cruisers for Father’s Day Fun

Craig's Cruisers Mini Golf Special

Celebrate your father on Sunday, June 18 for Father’s Day!

Is your Dad a big kid at heart? Ride The Rapid to Craig’s Cruisers where Dads can play miniature golf for free with the purchase of a child’s golf.

Aside from mini golf, Craig’s Cruisers Family Fun Centers feature attractions include indoor go-karts, laser tag, bumper cars, ropes course and frog hopper. There’s also the option for a pizza buffet!

THRIFTY THURSDAY DEAL

Aside from free mini-golf for Dad, Craig’s Cruisers also has summertime hours and Wristband Wednesdays that give the whole family quality time to play together any day during summer vacation. With wristbands, children and adults have unlimited access to all the activities for five hours.

Ride with us to the Wyoming Craig’s Cruisers location. You can ride Routes 1 and 10 to get there.

For more deals and locations, visit craigscruisers.com.