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Bus Driver Appreciation Day is March 16, 2018

Bus Driver Appreciation Day 2018

For us, every day is the perfect day to show bus operators our gratitude. However, National Bus Driver Appreciation Day is being celebrated on March 16, 2018!

The Rapid’s Bus Operators keep our community moving. They maneuver through traffic and weather conditions of all kinds to get you safely to work, school, appointments, and everything in between. And on top of ensuring the safe and timely arrival of passengers to destinations, they also must check fares, give directions, and ensure that the needs of passengers are met accordingly. Let’s be honest, bus operators make multitasking look second nature. And most do it all with a smile.

Join us in celebrating Bus Driver Appreciation Day on March 16. This isn’t just a day, it’s a national movement to celebrate our hard-working bus operators. Remember, bus operators don’t have an easy job. They just make it look that way. Please consider going out of your way to show your appreciation for them on Bus Driver Appreciation Day.

In honor of Bus Driver Appreciation Day, we’re hosting a social media contest for our passengers.

Bus Driver Appreciation Day Social Media Contest

Beginning on Thursday, March 15, we’re asking you to post why you’re thankful for your bus driver or share a positive story about your favorite driver with #BDADGR on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Those who post will be entered into a drawing to win a 31-Pass. If the post is made on your own page, the post must be public to be counted in the pass drawing. Please post your gratitude by 12 a.m. on March 18 to be entered to win.

Some other ways to do something nice for your operator:

Print and Sign a Bus Driver Appreciation Day Card

While simply saying thank you can brighten anyone’s day, you might consider doing something extra special for your Rapid bus driver. If you’re looking for something more personal, considering signing and printing the Transit Driver Appreciation Day cards available online to pass out to your favorite bus driver or drivers. Bus Driver Appreciation Day cards will also be available to pick up at Rapid Central Station’s Information Center beginning on Thursday, March 15.

Submit a Compliment to recognize Your Favorite Bus Driver

Commend your favorite bus driver by submitting a General Comment here or through our information line at 616-776-1100. This will be passed along to our Transportation Department and the bus driver will be recognized.

We hope you’ll take this opportunity to make a Rapid Bus Operator’s day a little brighter by showing them your appreciation.

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The Wave Q&A Series: Why E-Fare?

The Wave Q&A

As we approach the launch of The Wave, The Rapid’s new electronic (e-fare) system, we know there are many questions floating around about what the future holds for fares and tickets for The Rapid. As we approach launch in late spring,  one question we have been hearing quite frequently is why The Rapid is making the switch to e-fare and away from paper tickets.

Why is The Rapid switching to The Wave?

  1. 1. We’re Getting with the Times

While The Rapid is the first Michigan public transportation agency to introduce an e-fare system, this type of fare payment system is used throughout the world. Smart cards, mobile ticketing and most recently, fare capping, are becoming the standard way to pay your fare whether you’re riding the bus in Chicago or the London Underground

  1. 2. It’s Faster & Easier

When using The Wave, you will simply need to tap your card to the reader each time you board. This means you will no longer have to fumble with a paper ticket or deal with cash in the farebox. Wave Cardholders will also have access to a paperless transfer timeframe of 1 hour and 45 minutes (105 minutes). This means that with one tap of The Wave card, you will have 105 minutes of time to ride wherever you’d like, with unlimited transfers—yes, even on the same route.

  1. 3. It Will Save Riders Money

When you ride The Rapid using your Wave card, you automatically earn the savings of 1-Day, 7-Day, and 31-Day 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 1-Day pass after riding twice in one day (spending $3.50), or a 31-Day pass after spending $47 in a 31-day period.

All you will need to do is keep money on your card.

  1. 4. It’s 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 permanent plastic smart card or the option of using the mobile ticketing for your smartphone.

  1. 5. It’s a More Accessible Option

With The Wave, cardholders can add value to their card anywhere through their smartphone or tablet rather than having to find a ticket vending machine or visit Rapid Central Station to buy a ticket. The Wave will also eventually feature a large network of retailers where you can purchase and /or reload a Wave card.  Retailers will include Meijer, Family Fare, Speedway, CVS and other convenience stores.

  1. 6. More Rider Benefits

Unlike a standard ticket, The Wave offers the benefit of account management to register and add value to multiple cards, see your recent trip history, transactions and deactivate/reactivate if lost or stolen. Wave cardholders also have access to the auto-load feature so you don’t even have to plan when and how you will add money to your card.

Learn more about The Wave by visiting https://www.ridetherapid.org/the-wave.

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Transit-Friendly Events in March

Transit-Friendly Events in March 2018

March is a busy month for Grand Rapids. We have Beer Month GR, Laughfest, St. Patrick’s Day and so many events at DeVos Place. There are so many reasons to get out and enjoy all the community has to offer. Beat those winter blues by getting out and riding The Rapid to a variety of events.

Beer Month GR Throughout Grand Rapids

Savor the craft until March 15 with Beer Month GR! Experience Grand Rapids is highlighting our city’s love of craft beer with a month-long celebration. The Rapid to check out local restaurant specials for Cool Brews. Hot Eats., Founders KBS Week tap takeovers and more. There’s something for every beer lover to indulge in during Beer Month GR. Don’t forget your Beer City Brewsader® Passport!

Check out the event list and plan your trip

West Michigan Home and Garden Show at DeVos Place

Love gardening? Prepare for spring at DeVos Place on March 1-4. This season’s show features 14 gardens, 5 free seminar stages and over 350 exhibitors featuring every product and service you’ll need. Single-day and multi-day tickets are available with prices ranging from $10 to $18. Admission for children 6-14 is $4 and children 5 and under get in for free.

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

The Bodyguard at DeVos Performance Hall

From March 6-11, ride to DeVos Performance Hall. The Silver Line can get you just steps away from the front door to see this award-winning musical starring Grammy® Award-nominee and R&B superstar Deborah Cox! The plot involves a former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, who is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love. A breathtakingly romantic thriller, The Bodyguard features a host of irresistible classics including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, Run to You, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – I Will Always Love You. Based on Lawrence Kasdan’s Oscar-nominated Warner Bros. film and adapted by Academy Award winner (Birdman) Alexander Dinelaris, The Bodyguard had its world premiere in London’s West End where it was nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and won Best New Musical at the Whatsonstage Awards.

Get your tickets hereRoutes SL, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

West Michigan Women’s Expo at DeVos Place

This fun shopping event at DeVos Place is catered to women and their families. From March 9-11, come out for more than 300 exhibits involving health, wellness, beauty, fashion, food, fitness, travel and so much more. Make a girl’s day and grab some friends to join you. This event is for women of all ages. Get your tickets here starting at $10.

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

Waters Extreme Journey at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Grab your family and take a ride to the Grand Rapids Public Museum throughout March to see experience the watershed as a water drop, exploring first hand the science behind the water cycle. But it’s not all wet and wild – through powerful interactive and local messaging, visitors realize that daily decisions can immediately improve the watershed in their own backyard. This exhibit is included with your general admission. 

Route 7, 9, 19 can get you to GRPM!

My Fair Lady at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Don’t miss this local production! Eliza Doolittle is a young flower seller with a thick Cockney accent. Professor Henry Higgins is an arrogant upper-class phonetics professor. A boastful wager sets them on a path of discovery that will change both of their lives. One of the most popular musicals of all time featuring Broadway classics: Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, With a Little Bit of Luck, Get Me To the Church on Time, and I Could Have Danced All Night. 

Tickets are $18-37 and can be purchased here.

Ride Route 1, 4, 6, 14, 15 to get to the Civic Theatre.

LaughFest

Join in the laughter from March 8 – 18 throughout Grand Rapids! GIlda’s LaughFest is a community-wide festival of laughter featuring a variety of events celebrating the health of laughter. This year, come out to see big names like Maria Bamford, Mike Birbiglia, Lewis Black and Wayne Brady. Browse the full event list and start planning your trip to a variety of comedy events. 

Various venues throughout West Michigan host events. 

Taste of Kentwood

Leave your car at home and ride with us to indulge in Kentwood’s finest on March 15! Sample food from over fifteen restaurants. You won’t want to miss this evening of food and fun at the City of Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department. Two sessions: 4:30-6:00pm and 6:30-8:00pm. Tickets are $6 in advance or $8 at the door. Kids 5 and under are free.

Route 1 & 44 can get you there.

Irish on Ionia

Grab your green gear and get ready for some St. Patrick’s Day Fun on March 17! Stretching from Fulton to Oakes, and across Weston from Commerce, the event will consume three city-blocks including parking area #3. Travel responsibly and let The Rapid be your designated driver to and from this event.Get your tickets here.

Blandford Nature Center Family Events

Throughout March, ride The Rapid to Blandford Nature Center for a variety of events. There’s the Sugarbush Tour on March 10, 48th Annual Sugarbush Festival on March 24 and the Eggtastic Exploration on March 31! View all of the events here.

Route 7 can get you within walking distance to Blandford Nature Center.

See you on board!

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Federal Funding Secured for the Laker Line

Route 50 Connector

This past Friday, The Federal Transit Administration granted The Rapid $56.4 million to fund the transit authority’s next bus rapid transit line, the Laker Line.

Funding for the 13-mile-long Laker Line from downtown Grand Rapids to Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus was authorized in President Barack Obama’s last budget for fiscal 2017.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland announced Friday that the funding for the Laker Line had been approved.

“The Laker Line will help our community take the next step by providing students at Grand Valley’s Allendale campus with a greater ability to gain hands-on experience in the growing educational, medical, and business fields available in downtown Grand Rapids,” Huizenga said in a statement. “I believe the Laker Line will help connect students and West Michigan residents with greater opportunity, strengthen our workforce, and move our economy forward.”

This federal grant will pay for 80 percent of the $70 million Laker Line project. The rest of the cost will be covered by the Michigan Department of Transportation, which has already allocated the $14 million it pledged. Grand Valley State University will be covering the operational costs of this line.

Station construction will begin this spring and last throughout 2019, with a grand opening of the Laker Line in May 2020.

The Laker Line will offer bus service similar to what The Rapid offers on its existing Route 50. Buses will pick up passengers from stops every five to six minutes at peak time and feature larger buses that can carry more riders, making the route more efficient. The articulated buses have seats for 60 passengers but can carry up to 90  people. The current Route 50 buses seat 40 passengers and can carry up to 60 people.

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Motivational Monday: The Salvation Army

Volunteer at Salvation Army

We partner with FOX 17 to bring you inspiring stories of organizations doing amazing work in West Michigan.

The Salvation Army may be an international organization, but they’re making a big impact locally. Throughout West Michigan, The Salvation Army provides a variety of services for individuals and families throughout West Michigan. Available services include food pantries, assistance with paying electric or gas bills, providing housing assistance, and so much more. Essentially, to help people get back on their feet.

The Rapid is a big part of ensuring individuals can get to and from The Salvation Army, as well as providing employees with reliable transportation.

For more information and to learn more about volunteer opportunities in the area, visit sawmni.org or call (616)-459-3433.

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Enjoy a Transit-Friendly Valentine’s Day

Transit-Friendly Valentine's Day

Love is in the air! Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day yet?

Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate with your special someone. As always, we’re dishing out destinations and tips for a romantic, transit-friendly rendezvous. Let us do the driving so you can spend time paying attention to your sweetheart instead of the road.

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

Plan a Staycation

Many local hotels are featuring wallet-friendly hotel packages to help you escape your everyday life for a bit of a romantic getaway. Pull out all of the stops by surprising your sweetheart with one of these hotel stay packages:

Go Outside

Bundle up and take your Valentine’s Day excursion outside with one of the many World of Winter Festival events! Ride The Rapid to Downtown Grand Rapids for a romantic ice skating date at Rosa Parks Circle. On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, ice skating will be buy-one-get-one-free. Even better, you and your special someone can get a free professional photo taken in front of the community sculpture! View all of the World of Winter Festival events here.
If you’re looking for a bit more rustic, transit-friendly destination, don’t miss a chance to snowshoe with your sweetie at Blandford Nature Center! This event features an easy, candlelit hike for all experience levels. Enjoy a glass of wine from a local winery around a fire after!

Dine Out

If you’re planning on a special dining out, make sure you get your reservations in as soon as possible. There are so many wonderful restaurants in and around Grand Rapids If you’re looking for a special menu for you and your sweetheart, consider visiting six.one.six at the JW Marriott Hotel is featuring Valentine’s Day Dinner for two with delicious options. Another great option is the Valentine’s Week Celebration at The B.O.B.! There will be a specially crafted dinner for two in any of the amazing B.O.B. restaurants!
Plan your trip now by visiting ridetherapid.org!

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River House Residents Ride the Silver Line

River House Residents at Beltline Bar

Living in Downtown Grand Rapids provides residents with access to a variety of covetable amenities such being just steps away from dining, culture and public transportation.

Recently, a group of residents from River House at Bridgewater Place, a trademark of the Grand Rapids city skyline, planned a fun dinner trip and used The Rapid to make travel easy, communal and fun! Their goal was to get to dinner at the Beltline Bar at 28th Street and Division. This happened to be the perfect destination for using the Siler Line! For the low cost of $1.75 each way, this not only saved them the time and money, it also added a bit of adventure to the trip. River House Residents Waiting at the Silver Line Station

The residents boarded a short walk from their building at the northbound DeVos Place Station and took the Silver Line to the 28th Street Station. Fortunately, Beltline Bar is just steps away from the station! This made for a quick walk on a cold night. After they were finished dining, the residents took the Silver Line back and once deboarded at the Devos Place Station. The residents agreed that this wouldn’t be their last trip together using transit to access another destination!

If you’re looking for an easy way to travel with friends to and from an event, consider giving The Rapid a try! It’s also a smart option if you’re planning to have a few drinks.

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February Events You’ll Love

February Transit Friendly Events

Movies, shopping and boat and auto shows! Explore Grand Rapids and beyond this month by riding The Rapid to get to a wide variety of family-friendly, low-cost or free events.

Michigan International Auto Show at DeVos Place

Visit DeVos Place to discover what drives you! From Feb. 1 – 4, 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 Michigan International 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 $12 for adults, $5 for children 6-14 and free for children 5 and under. Purchase your tickets here.

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

February Indie Flea Grand Rapids at Wealthy Theatre

Beat the cold and tackle some shopping! Visit the historic Wealthy Theatre on the first of every month. On Feb. 2, shop a wide variety of local vendors with everything from vintage clothing to self-care products. Some vendors to check out include Wild Pine Remedies, Solstice Handmade and Silver Moon Soaps. Admission is free!

Ride Route 5 or 6 to get there.

Ethnic Heritage Festival at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Visit the Grand Rapids Public Museum on Feb. 3 for the annual Ethnic Heritage Festival. This is a day-long celebration of music, dance, crafts and food representing the various ethnic groups that call West Michigan home. The City of Grand Rapids and the surrounding region have a long-standing history of diversity and various cultural traditions dating back from early explorers and fur traders, to modern day cultural rituals from new residents of the region.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and features a variety of organizations, performances, beer tastings and presentations. The Museum Café will feature ethnic food selections and a special International Beer Tasting. Event activities are included with general admission to the Museum.

Routes 7, 9, 12 and 50 can get you near the Museum.

55th Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour at Wealthy Theatre

On Feb. 8, visit Wealthy Theatre for a cinematic experience. The Ann Arbor Film Festival has been showcasing independent and experimental films since its launch in 1964. This year, Grand Rapids Public Library has teamed up with CinemaLab and the Wealthy Theatre to bring the 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival to Grand Rapids. These interesting and often challenging short films span many genres: experimental, documentary, animation, narrative and hybrids. A short discussion will follow the program. Admission is free and space is limited. Viewer discretion is advised.

Ride Route 5 or 6 to get there.

Winter Michigan Animals at Blandford Nature Center

Not all Michigan animals are sleeping away the winter, ride with us to Blandford Nature Center to discover the animals who stay active in the winter wonderland. Get an up-close look at Blandford’s resident wildlife on Feb, 10 from 2-3 p.m. This program is $3 for Blandford members and $6 for non-members with $5 snowshoe rental fee. Register here.

Ride Route 7 to visit Blandford Nature Center.

World of Winter Festival in Downtown Grand Rapids

The World of Winter Festival will be taking over Downtown Grand Rapids from Feb. 9 – 16! Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and partners will be hosting a full slate of winter activities including the Human Hungry, Hungry Hippos Tournament, Snow Globe Experience, Love on ICE and Relax at Rosa on ICE.

The 8-day festival is designed to take advantage of Michigan’s cold climate, provide fun ways for people to get outside and enjoy the season and make Grand Rapids a better winter city, which makes Grand Rapids a better year-round city. World of Winter comprises of a variety of free- and low-cost events that feature a wide variety of activities for both families and adults. View the full activity list here.

Plan your trip using The Rapid’s Trip Planner tool.

Grand Rapids Boat Show at DeVos Place

The Grand Rapids Boat Show will be featuring their broadest array of power boats ever…5 acres of them, especially for the Great Lakes! The array of motor yachts, cruisers, runabouts, fishing boats, and ski and wakeboard inboards is exceptional. This is your chance to board new boats and check them out! Admission for adults is $10, $4 for children 6-14. Feb 14-18. Purchase tickets here.

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

Taste of Soul Sunday at Grand Rapids Public Library

Celebrate African American history and culture at Taste of Soul Sunday at the downtown Grand Rapids Public Library location on Sunday, Feb. 18. Listen, learn, eat, create, and preserve. Activities include a poetry workshop and crafts for kids. Enjoy food from IRIE Kitchen, Big Ed’s BBQ, Mosbyspopcorn and NoLos Soul!

The Silver Line and Routes 4, 6, 14 and 15 can get you there.

Cool Brews. Hot Eats.

Grand Rapids is Beer City, USA and that’s due in large part to our nearly 80 breweries within 60 minutes of downtown Grand Rapids – and new ones are popping up all the time! We also pride ourselves on being a true foodie destination and were recently named the Best Food City in Michigan.

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 (Feb. 15-March 15), there is no better time to enjoy food and beer! Participating locations and menus will be announced in early February.

Plan your trip using The Rapid’s Trip Planner tool.

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Motivational Monday: Feeding America West Michigan

Feeding American West Michigan Mobile Food Bank

Get motivated this Monday by learning about an organization doing good within our community! We’ve teamed up with FOX 17 Morning Mix to bring you bi-weekly segments to get you motivated and inspired.

Did you know that hunger threatens one in eight of your neighbors? Feeding America West Michigan exists to ensure safe food is available to the hungry in our community. In 2016, they distributed a record 29.1 million pounds of food, the equivalent of 24 million meals.

This food comes from hundreds of farmers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers that have edible food they can’t sell because of overruns, order errors, misprints, and other unexpected occurrences. Feeding American West Michigan distributes reclaimed food to pantries, shelters, after-school programs, and other anti-hunger agencies in 40 Michigan counties.

More than 900 agencies use Feeding America West Michigan to provide food to an estimated 492,100 people every year. We also send food directly to people in need through our local Mobile Food Pantry Program.

Thanks to places like Feeding America West Michigan its amazing donors and volunteers, that burden is eased. Plus, the burden of getting to and from mobile food site is lessened thanks to the Rapid.

Feeding America West Michigan’s headquarters is located at 864 West River Center Drive. To learn more about volunteering and donating opportunities, call (616)-784-3250 or visit feedwm.org.

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Beat Rising Gas Prices With These Savvy Commuting Tips

Passenger waiting for the bus in downtown Grand Rapids.

Calling all car commuters! Gas prices are on the rise.

In a recent gas price forecast from GasBuddy.com, it’s predicted that U.S. households will spend more on gas than they did previously in 2017. GasBuddy expects prices at the pump nationwide to average out to about $2.57 per gallon of regular gas and $2.70 per gallon of diesel throughout the year. Analysts anticipate regular gas prices to peak in May, with most gas stations charging $2.57 to $2.88 per gallon.

Do you know exactly how much your commute is costing you? Use the handy West Michigan Rideshare Commute Cost Calculator to calculate just how much your miles, gas, maintenance and other aspects of your drive are really ringing up to.

If you’re hoping to stick to your budget this year, cutting down on how often you’re filling up your gas tank can be one way to stay in check. One of the best ways to combat car costs is by using alternative modes of transportation whenever possible.

Here are a few ways to save on gas in the year to come:

Walk and Bike Whenever Possible

Did you know that Americans spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work? It is no secret that car commutes can not only be hard on your wallet but also straining on your mental and physical health. If your ability allows you, one way to ensure you’re utilizing your car less is by walking and biking to as many destinations as possible. While many of you may not live within a reasonable walking distance from your workplace, there’s a chance that many places you visit really are walkable. Consider choosing a destination and using the walking feature on Google Maps to see how long it would take you to walk there.

If you have a bike, dust it off and make a point to ride it more this year. You may not be brave enough to make use of it in the winter—a big salute winter bike commuters—but it doesn’t hurt to start planning for warmer weather. Grand Rapids metro area has made a significant investment in infrastructure such as bicycle lanes so you can ride even more safely to get where you need to go! Many of your favorite places likely have bike parking, too. Consider walking or rolling to the library, your favorite restaurant, coffee shop or local shop.  Don’t forget your helmet!

Ride the Bus More

According to the January 2018 Transit Savings Report by the American Public Transportation Association, taking public transportation and living with one less car can save an average of $825 per month. Using The Rapid as your main mode of transportation may not be possible for everyone but even if you’re riding a few times a week, you’re still going to be saving money in the long run. Using transit is also a way to incorporate more walking into your travel and get a little bit more personal time to enjoy a podcast or book instead of keeping your eyes on the road.

Use The Rapid’s Trip Planner tool (powered by Google Maps) to see what destinations you can ride the bus to and what bus stops are located near your home, workplace and other destinations you regularly visit.

Commute Smarter with Rideshare

If walking, biking or busing just aren’t possible for getting to your place of employment, West Michigan Rideshare may be perfect for you. Commuting alone can be a drag. This program through The Rapid offers Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties solutions for connecting riders trying to find a better way to manage their commutes as well as the business community seeking solutions to improve travel for employees.

Whether this means joining a vanpool with people who have similar commuting patterns as you or finding someone to carpool with via the Online Rideshare Matching database, our ridesharing service could help you save money on gas and do the environment a favor in the process!

Commute smarter and savvier in 2018 with these tips!