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5 Transit-Friendly Valentine’s Day Ideas

Nothing beats getting on board the bus with your sweetie. Forget the old “dinner and flowers” routine this February 14. Are you looking for a few ideas to set your Valentine’s Day apart from the rest? Grab your bus pass and your significant other for these wallet-friendly, public transit accessible date ideas: Heart-shaped transit map.

1. Who needs dinner when you can have brunch? Valentine’s Day dinner is a February 14th staple. We think it’s time to 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:

– The Westsider Cafe — Located on Walker Avenue and accessible via Routes 7 and 18.
– Anna’s House — Visit the East Beltline Avenue location by riding Routes 5, 6, 24, and 28.
– Terra — Brunch is from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. You can view their Valentine’s Day menu here. Get to this delicious eatery via Route 6.

2. Go see an early movie. Take this classic date idea to a new level by hitting the movie theater before everyone else. Here are a few transit-friendly movie locations to help make your Valentine’s Day a cinematic event:

– AMC Star Grand Rapids 18 — Ride Route 9 this theater.
Celebration! Cinema at Woodland Mall — You can get to this location via Routes 5, 6, 17, 24, 28, and 44. You can even do some shopping while you’re in the area.
UICA — Catch an indie film with your special someone. Get to this theater via 1, 4, 6, 9, 11, and 14.

3. Enjoy a day at the museum. Use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to explore the a a museum with your significant other. You may even want to bring your children along for the ride. This Valentine’s Day the Grand Rapids Public Museum is hosting a Fashion & Tea event. There are also many other museums downtown. You can plan your trip via Rapid Connect.

4. Fall in love with volunteering. 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 just considering the idea, there’s 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 Rapid Connect Trip Planner to ensure that the destination and timing of your volunteer opportunity works for bus travel.

5. Explore Grand Rapids’ beer offerings. Since you won’t be driving, consider checking out local breweries with your love. You’ll be able to try different beers, enjoy a variety of food, and still travel the city safely. Plan your own Valentine’s Day beer tour by looking at the breweries throughout the city and checking out the Rapid system map. 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?

Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show a little love. Simply riding the bus with a special someone to a favorite destination can even be a great way to spend the day.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans?

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#StuckInTraffic: Participate In A Twitter Town Hall With National Transportation Leaders

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The U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Rep. Bill Shuster will be taking to Twitter today to answer questions about reauthorizing U.S. surface transportation; strengthening the Nation’s highways, bridges, and transit infrastructure; and the future of transportation in America. Follow @SecretaryFoxx and @Transport and keep up with the #StuckInTraffic hashtag. The Twitter Town Hall officially begins at 12 p.m. eastern time.

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Switching Up Your Winter Commute

Winter isn’t over yet. On Monday, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow portending six more weeks of winter. But that’s not all bad news. In fact, we think it’s a great opportunity to switch up your commute in the face of more winter weather conditions heading our way.

Rapid bus stop in the winter.For those who choose to commute mostly by car, have you considered changing the way you travel at least once a week? Riding the bus, walking, and biking are great ways to add some variety to your daily travel routine.

Here are five reasons to consider adding bus travel to your weekly commute this winter:

1. Let someone do the driving for you. Driving can be exhausting, especially in bad weather. Minimize the stress of driving on snowy, icy roads and let our bus operators handle your commute. Sit back, relax, read a book, get some work done, and even enjoy the free Wi-Fi if you’re riding the Silver Line. Many riders have found that when they’re not battling traffic they enjoy their day more and even see more things in the community they may have missed in their car.

2. Riding the bus could save you time. For those of you lacking a garage, winter means adding time to your mornings to ensure your car is free of snow and ice. If you know snow is in the forecast, consider saving time by riding the bus and save the hassle of clearing off your car for later in the day. Who knows what you can do with your extra time savings!

3. You’re safer in a bus than in a car. Unless you ride a snowmobile to work, poor road conditions make commuting in the winter a challenge for everyone. But even in optimal road conditions, you’re 60 times safer riding in a bus instead of a car. Avoid icy roads and bad drivers by getting on board.

4. You’ll increase your activity level. Public transportation can offer you more than just money and time savings. In fact, it can even add some exercise to your daily commute. Since you will be walking to and from your bus stop, as well as your destination, you’ll have a chance to get in more steps than you would while driving.

5. Riding the bus is easy. We have several digital tools to make riding the bus even smoother than before. You can track your bus in real time, find stops nearest to you via GPS location, plan your trip, and much more. Our drivers are also friendly resources for any of your questions.

If you factor in destination and timing, taking the bus can be a great option for those who typically commute by car.

Do you ride the bus for your winter commute?

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Improve Our Website In 10 Minutes

Take The Rapid website survey.

Out with the old and in with the new. The time has come to improve The Rapid website. To ensure that we’re providing you with the best hub to access all The Rapid offers, we’re seeking your input as we begin the process.

Whether you’re a new rider or a long-time friend of The Rapid, we want to know how you use ridetherapid.org. And there’s more in it for you than just an improved website. By taking this survey you also will be entered to fin a $50 Meijer gift card. You can find the survey here: http://bit.ly/RapidSurvey

We’re looking forward to receiving your input.

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Why Should You Be A Voice For Public Transit?

Whether you ride or not, public transit benefits all of us. It allows our community to come to life by keeping us moving. Public transit gets you to the places you need to go: work, school, errands, the doctor, entertainment, and much more.

Did you know?

– 35 million times each weekday, people board public transportation.
– Every $1 communities invest in public transportation approximately $4 is generated in economic returns.
– Every $10 million in operating investment in public transportation yields $32 million in increased business sales.
– Residential property values perform 42 percent better on average if they are located near public transportation with high-frequency service.
– 1.1 million jobs are created or sustained per year because of public transportation.

Are you ready to get on board?

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GVSU Students: 6 Tips For A Smoother Ride This Winter

Pure Michigan weather is back to it’s regularly scheduled program of snow, ice, and bitter cold. If braving the roads isn’t your cup of tea then The Rapid is a great option for commuting to campus, work, or just for fun. Recently the Grand Valley Lanthorn shared some recommendations to ensure your ride on The Rapid is as smooth as possible. Remember, the bus is free for all GVSU students, faculty and staff with a valid I.D.:

1. Be Courteous

It can be stressful trying to find a spot to sit or stand. If the bus is crowded, try to walk all the way to the back and avoid saving a seat for your backpack to make more space available for others. Keep your eye out for someone who might need a seat more than you do. Another piece of advice: avoid talking on the phone loudly. Chances are fellow riders will not want to hear all about your latest problems and concerns.

2. Be Safe

Riders should stay seated until they reach their destination. However, if the bus is crowded and standing is necessary, remember to hold onto either the overhead strap or the bars to the side. Balance will save you from falling on a stranger and creating an awkward situation. Be aware of your surroundings while waiting and riding the bus. If you feel uncomfortable, sit up front behind the bus driver.

3. Be Timely

Planning ahead is crucial, especially during peak times and when you are heading to an important appointment. For GVSU routes, the peak times for Monday through Thursday are 9 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Fridays are busy around 9 a.m. and noon, generally tapering off as it gets later in the afternoon.

4. Be Knowledgeable

Plan your route ahead of time so that you know when to pull the cord to signal to the driver that you will be exiting at the next stop. Don’t be afraid to ask the driver any questions about your route. Learn the bus schedule so that you don’t have to wait outside in the cold for longer than necessary. The Route 50 buses run every six minutes on weekdays and about every hour on weekends. Check gvsu.edu/bus for more specific times.

5. Be Careful

When you get ready to exit, remember to gather all of your personal items and winter accessories you brought along during your ride. Left something behind? All forgotten items are kept at Central Station. You can call The Rapid Information line at (616) 776-1100 anytime Monday through Friday between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m or contact or contact Lost & Found online.

6. Get The App

Want to know exactly when the bus will arrive? Search for The Rapid bus routes on the MyStop app (iPhone only) or the Transit App (iPhone or Android). Don’t have a smartphone? Check Rapid Connect your computer’s internet browser before heading to the bus stop.

Environmental and economic reasons to ride The Rapid

– Public transportation can save the U.S. 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline every year, reducing dependence on oil.
– The Rapid saves the GVSU community over 2 million rides, 20 million vehicle miles and $11 million in vehicle operating costs.
– Park and Ride: GVSU students, faculty and staff can park in marked areas and ride the bus to campus for free. The Standale Meijer and the Walker Fire Station have parking designated for this purpose. However, it is best to avoid overnight parking, as the vehicle may be ticketed or towed. This can help save gas money, avoid purchasing a parking pass and reduce emissions.
– The Rapid has five hybrid-electric buses operating with green roofs to protect the environment by burning less fuel and emitting fewer pollutants into the air. The Rapid also uses ultra-low sulfur diesel, which emits 90 percent less pollutants than before.
– The buses feature a battery-powered electric motor that provides most of the power at slower speeds and a smaller clean diesel engine that takes over at higher speeds.

Rapid Statistics
– Fiscal Year 2014
– Total Riders: 2.9 million
– Route 50: 1.4 million
– Route 50 riders per day: 9,866 students (average) with 14 buses on the 24-mile loop
– Route 37: 525,435
– Route 48: 753,234
– Route 51: 222,085

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Mobility As A Force For Health, Wealth & Happiness

It’s easy to think of alternative transportation such as walking, biking, and public transit as just a means of getting around. And on a community-wide scale, these mobility options offer a more green, environmentally-friendly appeal. But when was the last time you considered mobility as a direct for a healthier, happier, and more financially prosperous life?

In this TED City 2.0 Salon talk, former parks commissioner for Bogota, Colombia makes a passionate case for reclamation of public spaces for the increased mobility of all people. Gil Penalosa paints the picture of cities around the world where walkers, cyclists, and public transportation – not drivers and highways – are at the heart of urban life.

How has mobility transformed your life?

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New To Winter Bus Travel? 20 Tips From Fellow Riders

winter bus travel

Winter is one of the best times of year to switch up your commute and try using public transportation. Catching the bus instead of driving means avoiding scraping and deicing your car, driving on slick roads, and the general stress of winter travel. For those of you considering getting on board this winter, who better to learn the rules of the road from then tenured Rapid riders? We asked our Facebook fans to share their top winter bus travel advice. Spoiler alert: Dressing warm is a definite must. Find what other tips are necessary for safe, warm, and relaxing bus travel this winter:

1. “Use the bus don’t drive! The bus will not get stuck, saves time shoveling out in the morning and is warm when you jump on.” – Timothy Wolfer
2. “Have your fare ready before you get on the bus…if the roads are bad every second adds up. The driver wants to make line up just as badly as you do.” – Andrew Dykstra
3. “Be nice to your bus driver; especially if the weather’s bad. They have NO CONTROL over the onslaught of snow, unplowed or poorly plowed roads, other drivers, backed-up traffic, etc. And chances are good that they’re just as frustrated about the situation as YOU are. If you get stuck in stand-still traffic for up to two hours (it’s happened before), just remember that it’ll be a much more tolerable two hours for EVERYONE on the bus if you try to make nice with the driver and other passengers.” – Cory Anne Stickel
4. “Which reminds me: bring something to keep yourself occupied during the trip Just in case it takes a while. Books and MP3 players are always a good choice.” – Cory Anne Stickel
5. “Wear boots. It is well worth the hassle of changing shoes when you arrive at your destination.” – Matt Anderson
6. “Even though the sidewalks are not always plowed, DO NOT stand in the road – not even in the median of the side street. The “added convenience” is not worth the risk of getting slid into or run over by a car.” – Chris Koens
7. “Plan your trips carefully especially on the weekends. Always take the bus before the bus that you need. Worst case scenario you will be early for work.” – Maggie Hall
8. “Transfer at the station instead of waiting outside.” – Lee J. Lamberts
9. “Make sure to leave enough time for delays in travel.” – Alan Graham
10. “Dress warm,dress in layers and be prepared for the sidewalks and walkways not to be shoveled!” – Meagan E. Jansen
11. “Use the bus tracker app [myStop for iOS] to check for delays ahead of time and stay indoors as long as you can and find a coffee shop or restaurant near your stop if possible.” – Eduardo A’carrochio
12. “[Wear] long underwear. Even when it dips into the 20s I find short periods outdoors in regular attire to be reasonably comfortable. And long underwear really isn’t a heat problem when you are just sitting at a desk. It is the perfect layer.” – Adam Tauno Williams
13. “Prepare and expect delays.” – Terry Simmons
14. “Take it slow because the aisle is always wet.” Spencer Anthony
15. “Wear your boots…and don’t forget your mittens and a hat.” – Tom Adams
16. “Merino wool socks in addition to boots can be a lifesaver for your feet!” – Angi Zamarripa
17. “Stay back away from the curb while waiting for bus or when your going to get on the bus.” – Nanette Rolph
18. “Catch the bus prior to your normal scheduled one and LAYERS, LAYERS, LAYERS…” – Anthony Robinson
19. “Check the real-time schedule info for your bus before heading to the stop.” – John Collins Mitchell
20. “Wear boots, layers, gloves and a hat — have a comb and change of shoes either at work or in a bag you carry. actually i wear two coats!” – Dan Cooke

Enjoy safer winter bus travel this season with the help of your fellow rider’s advice.

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8 Ways To Use Rapid Connect To Improve Your Commute

How do you stay connected to your bus route? Thanks to real-time information, keeping track of your bus is now easier than before. Our GPS-powered rider tools, known as Rapid Connect, have many options for making your ride on The Rapid more convenient. Here are a few ways to improve and even de-stress your commute:

1. Access Real-Time Information Regardless of Tech Abilities

If welcoming new technology with open arms isn’t exactly your style, you aren’t alone. But with Rapid Connect, tracking your bus in real time doesn’t have to involve a shiny new smartphone or app download. In fact, receiving precise real-time information is even as easy as dialing 616-776-1100 and choosing to the option for automated real-time information. We’ve made real-time Rapid bus information and much more available via your desktop computer, tablet, cell phone, and even your home phone.

TIP: “Play” with as many of the Rapid Connect tools as possible to discover which suits you best.Rapid Connect

2. Use A Smarter System Map

Go beyond the schedule book with the help of the Rapid Connect real-time passenger information system map. More interactive than a standard system map, this tool is great for seeing where The Rapid can take you and how to get there. The system map also acts as a housing mechanism for the many elements of Rapid Connect. From this point you can track buses, find routes and stops, receive real-time information, plan trips, check for detours, and even set route alerts.

TIP: Bookmark the Rapid Connect system map in your desktop and smartphone browser.

3. Track Your Bus

We know you’re busy and every minute counts, so why track your bus based on scheduled time when you can do it in real time? Whether you get you get your route information via the myStop iOS app or by calling the Rapid information line, staying connected to your bus can keep you at easy even on your least busy days. You can track your bus on the myStop iOS app by choosing your route and finding your bus or stop on the map or by simply using your GPS to pull the nearest stop location.

TIP: Even when tracking your bus in real time, it’s still best to plan for delays in poor weather conditions.

4. Find Stops Nearby

Even if you have never wandered around in the search of the nearest bus stop, you know the importance of staying connected to where your bus arrives and departs. Fortunately, the Nearest Stop tool located on our homepage and mobile website can help you discover stops near a location you’re planning to visit, or the location you’re currently at. Simply type in your address or use your GPS location to locate stops.

TIP: This tool doesn’t list all the stops nearby, just the ones in the closest vicinity.

5. Plan Your Trip

Even the most tenured riders can benefit from planning trips to destinations. Since our Rapid Connect Trip Planner is fueled by Google Maps, you now have even more options for planning the best trip for you. Transform your travel by choosing to walk less, transfer less, and compare how long the trip will be like at different times of the day with varied route options.Google map bar

TIP: We’re not sure what the technical term for the time-telling, travel-planning bar above the map is on Google Maps, but it’s incredibly useful for looking at all of your options.

6. Set An Alert

Never miss your bus again! Using Rapid Connect alerts, you can set a reminder for the stops you frequently use. Once you choose the proper location, you can choose how many times you would like to be notified prior to departure, as well as how. Once you set up a Rapid Connect account, you can choose to receive alerts via text message or email.

TIP: Alerts work great for your work commute both in the morning and evening.

7. Sign-Up For Public Service Messages

Stay connected to your route by receiving public service messages. These are notifications for everything from temporary detours and stops, to notices about holiday service. These messages are displayed on the Rapid Connect system map, but can also be sent directly to your text and/or email inbox upon signing up for an account.

TIP: Be sure to sign up for the routes that you ride.

8. Dabble With Apps

Even if you’re not an app expert, it’s worth trying out at least one of the apps offering Rapid information. Right now you can access Rapid bus information on myStop for iOS, Transit App, and Moovit. These apps offer real-time information with a twist, as their interfaces are all quite different.

TIP: Spend time discovering all the capabilities of these apps to help you choose your favorite.

How has real-time information changed your commute?

Posted in Places to Go on

The Rapid’s 2014 Ride Guide For The Holidays

The holiday season is upon us! The Greater Grand Rapids metro area is getting in the spirit with a number of events and celebrations throughout The Rapid’s service area. Enjoy all our community has to offer through the holidays by getting on board. Here’s a few events that offer fun for the whole family:

Holiday celebration lightsArt & Culture

Fox Motors Holiday Pops – Don’t miss the Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Performance Hall! The Symphony will be joined on stage by the Symphony Chorus and Santa will make a special visit. This event runs December 4-7; tickets start at $18, $5 for full-time students.

How to get to this event: Route 9, 11, 19, 51, Silver Line

UICA’s 26th Annual Holiday Artists’ Market – The 26th annual Holiday Artists’ Market will be held at Steelcase Town Hall. Shop for handcrafted gifts and goods from dozens of regional artists, including jewelry, home goods, fine art, holiday cards, accessories, and toys. Enjoy live music, local food and beverage vendors, and pick up incredible handmade gifts for your friends and family. Takes place Saturday, December 6 from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday, December 7 from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  6, 11, 13, 19, Silver Line.

Festival of Lights – Calvary Church’s annual Christmas production will feature the classic story of The Christmas Carol with new staging, a 100+ voice choir, a dramatic cast and more than 200,000 twinkling lights. Tickets: $6-$7.

How to get to this event: Route 14 & 15

HarkUp 2014: Start a Fire – The upbeat musical re-tells the story of Christmas through song and dance with a 100+ member choir, featured vocalists, dancers and a 20-piece big band. Performance days are December 5, 6 & 7 at GRCH’s DeVos Center for Arts & Worship.

How to get to this event: Route 2 & 24

Annual Barbershop Harmony Holiday Show – This musical event takes place at St. Cecilia Music Society on December 6 and features the Great Lakes Chorus with special guests The Sweet Adelines chorus.

How to get to this event: Route 4, 6, 14, 15, 60, Silver Line

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – The symphonic rock group best known for progressive interpretations of favorite Christmas carols is back again at Van Andel Arena on December 7 with “The Christmas Attic.” Performance times: 3 & 7:30 p.m.

How to get to this event: Route 1, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 19, 50, Silver Line

The Nutcracker – The Grand Rapids Ballet Company presents this completely re-invented production that will showcase the creative vision of ‘Polar Express’ author Chris Van Allsburg and set designs by Tony Award winner Eugene Lee. Opens December 12 at DeVos Hall; tickets start at about $23.Tickets start at $34.

How to get to this event: Route 9, 11, 19, Silver Line

Lessons and Carols – The Grand Rapids Choir of Men & Boys presents its Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols based on the King James version of the Bible December 13, 14 & 19 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in downtown Grand Rapids. NOTE: This is a free event!

How to get to this event: Route 1, 3, 5, Silver Line

Schubert Male Chorus Annual Christmas Concert – The Grand Rapids choral group will perform their annual holiday concert with the theme “Home for the Holidays” on December 13 at the East Grand Rapids High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $18 in advance.

How to get to this event: Route 6

Gaither Christmas Homecoming – Multi-Grammy Award winner Bill Gaither presents the holiday spectacular December 13 at Van Andel Arena with the very best in Christian music and special guest vocalists and groups. Tickets: $23.50 and up.

How to get to this event: Route 1, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 19, 50, Silver Line

Edelweiss Christmas Concert – Joined by Ein Prosit Band, the Edelweiss Choir performs their annual holiday concert with German and Austrian Christmas music, authentic costumes and traditional carols. The concert takes places on December 21 at St. Mary’s on First NW.

How to get to this event: Route 7, 9, 51

Christmas Swing and Ballroom dance at DeVos Place – On December 23, the largest swing dance group in the world is hosting a very special swing and ballroom dance in the Grand Gallery of DeVos Place! Come for a night of dancing with hundreds of other dancers in a fun Christmas event. This is one of the largest dances in the area and sure to be a Christmas hit. Lessons @ 7PM. Cost $10.00

How to get to this event: Route 7, 9, 11, 12, 19, 50

Outdoor Events

Christmas for the Animals – On December 6, zookeepers from John Ball Zoo invite residents to bring gifts from the zoo’s wishlist to the animals. Open 10:00 am to 3:00 pm; free admission with donation.

How to get to this event: Route 12, 50

Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle The rink in the heart of Downtown opens on December 5 (weather permitting). Admission is just $1 for kids 17 and under, $2 for everyone else — and skate rentals are free with a photo ID.

How to get to this event: Route 6, 9, 11, 13, 19, 50, Silver Line

Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World – Celebrate the holidays at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park with more than 300,000 lights, 40+ international trees and displays, horse-drawn carriage rides, a magical railway garden, and more. This celebration takes place from November 25 to January 4.

How to get to this event: Route 15

Parades

Wyoming-Kentwood Santa Parade – The South Kent chamber hosts its annual Santa Claus Parade December 6 at 10 a.m. The starting point is 34th Street & South Division, and the parade will continue south along Division to Chase Bank. Afterward, Santa will be available for photos. NOTE: Don’t miss our bus in the parade.

How to get to this event: Route 1 & Silver Line

Winter Wonderland – On December 10, the Downtown Market will host an evening of shopping, carolers and free food demonstrations, along with cookies and crafts for the kids.

How to get to this event: Route 1, 2, 5, Silver Line

Shopping Events

Uptown Shop Hop – On December 4, celebrate the season and support local businesses in Grand Rapids’ Eastown, East Hills, Wealthy Street and East Fulton neighborhoods from 4-10 p.m. Ride the free shuttles and hop from store to store while enjoying carolers, in-store promotions and entertainment.

How to get to this event: Route 5, 6, 14

 What is your favorite way to celebrate the holidays?