Posted in News on

Support Grows For Increased Federal Investment in Public Transportation

After the opening of the Silver Line, Michigan’s first bus rapid transit system, many Grand Rapidians have had their eyes opened to possibility of public transportation-fueled community transformations. Are you one of the many Americans that supports increased federal investment in public transit?IMG_0968

To align with Congress being back in session after a brief August recess, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a survey that shows the numbers of Americans that support increasing federal public transportation investment grew to nearly 68 percent. This represents a nearly two point increase over last year. The survey, which was conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) for APTA, also found that nearly 74 percent of Americans support the use of tax dollars for creating, expanding, and improving public transportation options in their communities.

“We believe Congress should move swiftly on a robust long-term funding plan for the next surface transportation bill, and not wait until the extension deadline of May 31,said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Americans understand the importance of investing in public transportation because it is a catalyst to transforming their community.”

Seventy six percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that public transportation investment can help create jobs and pave the way to a stronger economy. When asked about the affordable transportation options for people, nearly 88 percent of respondents agreed that public transit expands opportunities and provides access to new jobs and careers as well as to medical care, schools, and colleges.

“Research data shows support for increased revenues for public transportation. This support continues to increase because Americans realize that everyone benefits from public transit investments through the economic growth in their community, even if they do not ride it,” said Melaniphy.

The survey by MTI was a result of 1,503 telephone interviews with individuals across the United States and the margin of error is minus 2.53 percentage points, at the 95 percent confidence level.

View the full study: http://transweb.sjsu.edu/project/1328.html

Posted in Rider Stories on

What’s Your Bus Stop Story?

When it comes to mobility choices, everyone has a story behind their choice. And for many Grand Rapidians, the bus is a means to living, working, and playing within the local service area.

Disability Advocates of Kent County (DAKC), Tommy Allen Creative and the local transit advocacy team, Friends of Transit have come together to capture these stories in a lively, poignant, and comically reflective video series. Taking to the streets during the launch of The Rapid’s new Silver Line bus rapid transit (BRT) system, Allen and his crew set out to capture the thoughts of individuals who were either riding the new Silver Line or were on existing routes under study for future BRT service.The Rapid bus logo

The first video of the three-part chapter of Bus Stop Stories rolled out on Tuesday, September 16 with “LIVE.” Followed today by the “WORK.”  Now we eagerly await the release of “PLAY.” These 3-4 minute videos showcase the excitement of the Silver Line, as well as the stories of everyday riders taking advantage of the benefits of public transportation. 

In a recent Rapidian article, Allen shared his excitement for the series stating that this video series presents a fresh image to counter balance the often stereotypical view of public transportation. We couldn’t agree more.

Don’t miss these great videos:

How has riding the bus benefited you?

Posted in In The Community on

Explore The Silver Line Corridor One Selfie At A Time

Getting out and exploring the city isn’t always at the top of you to-do list. But that’s about to change with a little help from the Silver Line and social media.

SVG Real Estate Firm has the perfect family-friendly event for anyone looking to get out and explore: The #SilverLineSelfie Scavenger Hunt. This transit-fueled event is open to members of the Grand Rapids community and surrounding neighborhoods with the hopes of encouraging exploration of local landmarks while getting familiar with Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line, the Silver Line.RN1_4925

You may notice from the name of this event — #SilverLineSelfie — that it’s a social media themed scavenger hunt. Even if you’re not a social media whiz, it’s still worth snapping a few selfies for. The #SilverLineSelfie scavenger hunt is being held on Friday, September 19 from 9:00 – 11:30 am. The fun kicks off in downtown Grand Rapids at Rapid Central Station where participants will gather to purchase Silver Line day passes ($3/each) then board a Silver Line bus. Participants will then follow the route throughout the city, using their phones to take “selfie” shots (we can’t wait to see all of the smiling faces) at designated landmark stops along the away.

All #SilverLineSelfie participants will be encouraged to post their photos to an SVG-designated Facebook or on Twitter using the #SilverLineSelfie hashtag.

If you’re interested in taking part, register at http://svgfirm.com/silverlineselfie/. RSVPs are required, with participants asked to register by September 16.

Posted in Places to Go on

Riding The Silver Line To Experience ArtPrize Pathways

Choosing your transportation to ArtPrize may change the way you experience Grand Rapids’ own international art competition. This year, the Silver Line is your direct connection to ArtPrize Pathways.

These four curated Pathways highlight the character of each ArtPrize neighborhood, while keeping you connected with the Silver Line. Acting as a starting point, all Pathways are 2.4 miles long or less and fully accessible for exploring more of these event and Grand Rapids. The ArtPrize team suggests straying from the Pathways often to explore beyond what is familiar. But as a reminder, you shouldn’t need to stray too far, as 90% of all ArtPrize Venues are within one block of a pathway.

Explore ArtPrize Pathways:

Center City

If you’re looking for a Pathway with all of the energy of ArtPrize, the 2.2 mile loop of Center City is for you. The Pathway includes two Exhibition Centers—the Grand Rapids Art Museum and Kendall College of Art and Design—and four featured City Sites.

Heartside

2.1 miles long, the Heartside Pathway will connect you to the ArtPrize HUB, the Heartside neighborhood, and two great locations for creative minds: the UICA and Avenue for the Arts.

West Side & North Monroe

The 2.4 mile West Side/Monroe North Pathway takes you along the banks of the Grand River and connects to the Venues in the Monroe North and West Side neighborhoods. The Pathway holds much to see, including seven City Sites, the Ford Museum, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Hillside

Rising above the Grand River, this 1.8 mile Pathway holds some of the oldest, most architecturally interesting homes in Grand Rapids. Also along this route are two Showcase Venues: Women’s City Club and St. Cecilia’s Music Center.

Get complete Pathway maps in the 2014 ArtPrize Event Guide, free when you register to vote or pick up Wristbands to take The Rapid to venues and around downtown Grand Rapids.

Which Pathway will you check out first?

Posted in Places to Go on

Let Us Be Your Ride To ArtPrize

In just a few weeks, 400,000 visitors will descend on Grand Rapids to experience all that ArtPrize has to offer. We at The Rapid, along with the ArtPrize team, invite visitors to explore environmentally-friendly ways to get around the event, be it by bus, bike, or on foot.

ArtPrize will once again introduce Wristbands for unlimited rides on both The Rapid and DASH transit system during the 19-day event this fall. Visitors may purchase two Wristbands for five dollars at any of seven Meijer store locations in the greater Grand Rapids area and receive a free Event Guide — the first stop in learning about the event, the prizes, and where to begin — with their purchase. The participating Meijer store locations will also serve as park-and-rides, allowing visitors to avoid the often frenetic bustle of downtown Grand Rapids during ArtPrize in favor of public transportation.RN1_4865

New for 2014, ArtPrize launched Rapid Rides to ArtPrize in partnership with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. ArtPrize exists to introduce new audiences to contemporary art, igniting conversations around art and engaging all community members equally by reducing socio-economic, cultural, and physical barriers that exist to participation at the ArtPrize event. The Rapid Rides to ArtPrize Wristband grant program will provide 10,000 Wristbands for unlimited free public transportation during ArtPrize 2014 to community members who face income insecurity or language barriers. Each Wristband will come packaged with a 2014 Event Guide.

“Art is for everyone, so ArtPrize is actively working on removing barriers that often prevent people from getting involved,” commented Amelea Pegman, ArtPrize director of community engagement. “The best conversations around art happen when the ArtPrize audience truly reflects the diversity of our community.”

Wristband holders will also be able to ride The Rapid’s recently launched Silver Line. Michigan’s first bus rapid transit service  start at a 200-space park-and-ride on 60th Street and Division Avenue, and loop through downtown Grand Rapids and the ArtPrize district, connecting visitors to three square miles of art and conversation more efficiently and quickly than by car. All Silver Line bus stops are fully accessible, with curbs raised flush with the bus floor for barrier-free entry.

“ArtPrize is as much about discovering art as it is about discovering your city, and there’s no better way to do that than with the Silver Line,” noted ArtPrize director of marketing and communications Todd Herring. “In conjunction with the ArtPrize Pathways, the Silver Line provides essentially a light-rail experience in a convenient downtown circulator.”

Taking advantage of downtown Grand Rapids’ bridges, parks, riverside walkway, and sidewalks, ArtPrize Pathways will help visitors to explore more of the event and the city. Each of four unique Pathways will start and stop at a Silver Line station within the ArtPrize district, taking visitors on a tour passing within a block of 90% of ArtPrize Venues. Each Pathway is a starting point, encouraging visitors to stray from the path, venture outside of their comfort zones, explore beyond what is familiar, and reward their curiosity. Each 2.4 miles or less, the ArtPrize Pathways are fully accessible. Visitors can find Pathway maps on the ArtPrize website and in the Event Guide distributed at the HUB, and follow sidewalk stencils calling out each route.

ArtPrize is also offering two free bike valet service for  — one at the ArtPrize HUB and another at the Ledyard Building. The bike valets will be monitored during the evening and on weekends so visitors may leave their bikes behind, leisurely explore the ArtPrize event, and return with their valet ticket to claim their bike. You can also utilize bicycle parking at all Silver Line stations and even bring your bike with you if you decide to ride the Silver Line or any other regular fixed-route buses.

ArtPrize 2014 will run from September 24 to October 12, when 1,536 entries at 174 venues will vie for a combination of public vote and juried awards totaling $560,000.

Are you planning on riding the Silver Line to explore ArtPrize?

Posted in Silver Line on

7 Basics of Bus Rapid Transit

Did you know that more than 160 cities in the world have some version of bus rapid transit (BRT)? And with Grand Rapids’ Silver Line BRT as the newest addition to this list, there’s a lot more to love about BRT systems than the convenience of a smooth and efficient ride.

Some of the most notable benefits of BRT include environment sustainability, transportation efficiency, and economic development. You may have noticed these aspects if you’ve had a chance to ride the Silver Line. This route features new Gillig hyrbid-electric BRT buses, as well as a number of other BRT basics to ensure increased travel efficiency throughout the corridor.

Let this infographic by CDM Smith guide you through the 7 basics of bus rapid transit:

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What’s your favorite element of BRT systems?

Posted in Silver Line on

The Silver Line’s First Week By The Numbers

The Silver Line’s wheels are in motion.  So how did Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line perform in its first week? Let’s take a look.

We wanted to put the numbers in context, so we pulled Route 1-Division’s ridership from this same week a year ago.  One question we received throughout the Silver Line’s development was whether it would attract new riders, or if the existing Route 1 ridership would simply transition to the new service. Comparing the ridership figures in the chart below, it is clear that the Silver Line is attracting new riders with only minimal impact on Route 1.  With daily growth ranging from 61 percent to 88 percent, the Silver Line has many new riders interested in experiencing what bus rapid transit has to offer.

Silver Line Route Data

It is important to keep in mind that service was free this first week, and there was a lot of positive buzz in the media and on-line leading up to and through the opening.  So while some of those new riders were there to sample the service and see how well it met their needs, it’s likely that some were riding just to be a part of this exciting first for our community.  We expect that the convenience and overall experience of the Silver Line will keep riders coming back, particularly those that usually commute on 131.  In the weeks to come, we’ll continue to track and report on ridership as people consider permanently changing their travel habits and more standard patterns of usage emerge.

Have you had a chance to ride the Silver Line?

**Please note, this ridership data is considered preliminary as we begin to use automated passenger counters (APCs) on the Silver Line in place of the farebox data that generates our other fixed-route ridership reports.  We’ll be doing manual checks over the next few weeks to ensure that the APCs are working as expected.  Tracking and reporting accurate ridership data is important to us.

Posted in Silver Line on

12 Silver Line Fare Questions Answered

With the new feature of pre-paid boarding on the Silver Line, we understand that their may still be some lingering questions about payment for riding this new route. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to walk you through a number of payment situations that you may encounter while riding the Silver Line. It’s also important to note that along with the opening of the Silver Line on August 25, our fare structure will be undergoing some changes.

1. How is the fare structure changing on August 25?

Four-Day Passes are being replaced with 7-Day Passes, which will cost $14. The cost for 1-Day Passes will be reduced from $4.60 to $3.00. We are also transitioning our passes to a new, sturdier ticket stock to ensure compatibility with ticket vending machines. There are no other fare changes taking place. Fare Structure Changes

2.  Where can I buy tickets?

All current ways to purchase tickets will still be available. While all ticket types except for 4-Day Passes will also be available for purchase. Ticket vending machines (TVMs) will have 1-Trip, 1-Day, 7-Day, and 31-Day Passes available for purchase.

3. Will old passes, those featuring the new design and sturdier ticket stock, still be valid?

All old ticket stock, even those no longer sold, will still be usable on the buses and at the ticket vending machines. However, TVMs are unable to print on old ticket stock showing how many rides/how much time is remaining. The tickets can be inserted in the TVMs or validators to determine this information. All new tickets will be printed on by the fareboxes and TVMs, but the printing will be on opposite sides of the ticket: TVMs will print on the front of the ticket, while bus fareboxes will print on the magnetic stripe side of the ticket.

4. How do I use a 1-ride, 2-ride or 10-ride tickets on the Silver Line?

Simply validate the ticket before boarding. This can be done by using the ticket vending machine (TVM) or validator, but preferably the validator as this takes less time and does not tie up the TVM for those interested in making purchases.

5. How do I use a 1-Day, 7-Day or 31-Day period pass on the Silver Line?

When riding the Silver Line, you must have a valid period pass. If it’s a new pass, it must be validated before boarding. If the pass has already been validated, simply board. You can use the TVM or validator to validate the period pass or check it’s status. You only need to validate a period pass once, as it will be considered valid until expiration. Be sure to always carry your period pass with you while riding the Silver Line.

6. How do I transfer from another bus to the Silver Line?

Have your valid transfer on hand when boarding the Silver Line. You can insert the transfer into the validator to see if it is still valid. When asked to provide proof of fare payment on the Silver Line, show your valid transfer ticket. Transfers must be valid at the time you board the Silver Line.

7. How do I transfer from the Silver Line to another route using a cash fare?

The one-ride ticket you purchased at the TVM acts as a regular transfer – use the ticket to make up to two transfers in the next 2 hours.

8. How do I transfer from the Silver Line to another route using 1-ride, 2-ride or 10-ride pass?

Validate your ride card fare prior to boarding the Silver Line. When you transfer to the next route, present your ride card showin

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g the Silver Line validation within the past two hours to the driver and they will permit you to board.

9. What if I am boarding the Silver Line with an old ticket stock 1-Ride, 2-Ride or 10-Ride pass?

The TVMs and validators will not print onto old ticket stock. Therefore, someone possessing an old pass with valid trips available will be allowed to travel on the Silver Line. While fare enforcement officers will have no way to confirm whether a ride was deducted, the pass will still be honored. We will be moving to new card stock as rapidly as possible.

10. What if I want to transfer from the Silver Line to another route using an old ticket stock 1-ride, 2-ride or 10-ride pass?

The only way for our drivers to know there is a valid fare on a ride ticket when transferring from the Silver Line to a regular fixed-route bus is the printing on the ticket showing a ride was taken on the Silver Line. However, the TVMs and validators will not print on the old tickets so there will be no way to show there was a valid fare taken off on the Silver Line allowing for a free transfer. Therefore, someone using an old pass and transferring from the Silver Line to another fixed route bus will have to purchase a new ride (ex. have one more ride deducted from their 10-ride ticket). This will not be an issue for new tickets where the ride on Silver Line will be printed using the TVMs or validators.

11. How do riders from Kendall, Spectrum and GVSU access the Silver Line?

Kendall and Spectrum employees must carry a valid Kendall or Spectrum ticket while riding the Silver Line. GVSU students must carry a valid GVSU student ID while aboard the Silver Line.

12. How do Calvin and Aquinas students access the Silver Line?

Calvin and Aquinas students can purchase tickets for full price at the Silver Line TVMs or purchase a book of 10-student tickets for $9.00, similar to other students.

You can also find these frequently asked questions on our website.

Posted in News on

August Transit Savings Report Shows Individuals Save $10,064 A Year

As students begin to head back to school and the rest of us head back to work after the summer vacation season, it is time to get back to work on saving money for next year’s big summer trip. This month, the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report shows that living with one less car and taking public transportation can help you save a little faster. The average annual savings for public transit riders was $10,064, according to APTA’s report. Individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can also save, on average, more than $839 this month.

These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the cost of owning and driving a vehicle which includes the August 14, 2014 average national gas price ($3.47 per gallon- reported by AAA), and the national unreserved monthly parking rate numbers.download

APTA releases this monthly Transit Savings Report to examine how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $166.26, according to the 2012 Colliers International Parking Rate Study, which is the most recent report available. Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,995. The top 20 cities with the highest public transit ridership are ranked in order of their transit savings based on the purchase of a monthly public transit pass. The savings also factor in local gas prices for August 14, 2014 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate.*

 City  Monthly  Annual
1 New York  $1,247 $14,963
2 San Francisco  $1,102 $13,220
3 Boston  $1,087 $13,045
4 Philadelphia  $1,002 $12,023
5 Seattle  $998 $11,974
6 Chicago  $992 $11,910
7 Honolulu  $981 $11,774
8 Los Angeles  $939 $11,271
9 Portland  $897 $10,763
10 San Diego  $892 $10,703
11 Denver $878 $10,530
12 Minneapolis $877 $10,528
13 Baltimore $861 $10,334
14 Washington, DC $843 $10,121
15 Pittsburgh $827  $9,925
16 Cleveland $823  $9,874
17 Miami $791  $9,495
18 Atlanta $791  $9,493
19 Las Vegas $781  $9,377
20 Dallas $777  $9,322

*Based on gasoline prices as reported by AAA on 8/14/14

Methodology

APTA calculates the average cost of taking public transit by determining the cost of the average monthly transit pass of local public transit agencies across the country.  This information is based on the annual APTA fare collection survey and is weighted based on ridership (unlinked passenger trips).  The assumption is that a person making a switch to public transportation would likely purchase an unlimited pass on the local public transit agency, typically available on a monthly basis.

APTA then compares the average monthly transit fare to the average cost of driving.  The cost of driving is calculated using the 2013 AAA average cost of driving formula.  That formula is based on variable and fixed costs.  The variable costs include the cost of gas, maintenance and tires.  The fixed costs include insurance, license registration, depreciation and finance charges.  The comparison also uses the average mileage of a mid-size auto at 23.1 miles per gallon and the price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline as recorded by AAA on August 14, 2014 at $3.47 per gallon.  The analysis also assumes that a person will drive an average of 15,000 miles per year.  The savings is based on the assumption that a person in a two-person household lives with one less car.

In determining the cost of parking, APTA uses the data from the 2012 Colliers International Parking Rate Study for monthly unreserved parking rates for the United States which is the most recent report available.

To calculate your individual savings, with or without car ownership, go to www.publictransportation.org.

How much have you saved by riding public transportation?

Posted in News on

Track Rapid Buses in Real Time With New GPS-Powered Rider Tools

New rider tools have arrived, which means riding the bus is an even smarter and convenient option for those traveling within the Greater Grand Rapids area.

Today The Rapid is excited to roll out new technology to enhance the connectivity of riders to real-time transit information. These intuitive new features, known collectively as Rapid Connect, make staying connected to your bus easier than ever before. Thanks to GPS technology, Rapid riders can now track buses in real-time, as well as plan trips utilizing data honed through Google Maps familiar interface.

“We are dedicated to advancing our transit technology to provide a smarter and more convenient experience for all riders,” said Jennifer Kalczuk, spokesperson for The Rapid. “Rapid Connect puts passengers in control by making crucial, real-time information accessible on smartphones, tablets, and computes.”

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The Rapid Connect hub is essentially a real-time information upgrade for existing Rapid tools. Customers can access routes, locate stops throughout the system, plan trips, set route alerts, and receive public service messages. The Rapid’s real-time passenger information, identical to the Rapid Connect system map, is also available via the myStop iOS application for iPhones and iPads. While beta-testing this app, users expressed increased levels of confidence while riding the bus.

“MyStop has tremendously improved my overall experience with riding The Rapid,” said Chris Koens, a frequent Rapid rider. “Having access to real-time route information and actual bus arrival times has eliminated the guesswork and nearly eliminated wait times. It’s also been a key tool in helping me plan excursions on routes I’m not as familiar with.”

Rapid Connect is not limited to desktop and mobile device users. Anyone with a phone can call 616-456-7859 to access the interactive voice response (IVR) to get automated information that also uses the real-time data.

Access Rapid Connect by visiting http://connect.ridetherapid.org/infopoint. Learn more about these new features at http://www.ridetherapid.org/howtoride/onlineresources.

What’s your favorite Rapid Connect tool?