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

10410973_10204161272943264_859153408877209705_n (1)

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.”

10556461_10152230926762374_1800872518813497249_n

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?

Posted in Silver Line on

Learn How The Silver Line Interacts With Traffic

With the introduction of designated bus-only lanes and traffic signal priority in accordance with the Silver Line route, many of you may be wondering how Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line will interact with traffic. We’ve developed this traffic animation to highlight exactly how the Silver Line will interact seamlessly with vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. In fact, there are many times where the Silver Line will operate similarly to current Rapid fixed routes.

Key takeaways:

– Silver Line stations are located on the right side of the road. The Silver Line bus will stop at a level boarding pad only as long as it takes to load and unolad passengers.

– Designated lanes are located (signed and marked) running both directions of Division from Maplelawn Street, just north of 44th Street to Wealthy. The only exception regarding these designated lanes is about 500 feet north and south of the intersections at 36th, 28th, and Burton streets. There also will be a bus-only lane on Monroe Avenue NW between Michigan and Fulton streets.

– Bus-only lanes will be reserved for buses during peak hours: 7-9 am and 4-6 pm, from Monday through Friday.

– During peak hours, cars, trucks and motorcycles will be able to use bus-only lanes for right hand turns. When turning right, enter the bus-only lane within 200 ft. prior to your turn.

– Parking and unloading in bus-only lanes is strictly prohibited.

Did you find this animation helpful?

Posted in Silver Line on

5 Silver Line Park ‘n’ Ride Questions Answered

Park N Ride Billboard

It’s time to park-n-ride-like-never-before.

There’s more than a bus rapid transit line opening on August 25, 2014. We’re also happy to announce the opening of two Silver Line Park ‘n’ Ride lots. These lots will provide an easy, convenient, and safe way to ride the Silver Line for those not near a station. Here are the details:

1. Where will the Silver Line Park ‘n’ Rides be located?

The larger, main Silver Line Park ‘n’ Ride lot will be located at 60th Street and Division. The second park ‘n’ ride lot will be located at the southeast corner of Division and Burton near the Burton Silver Line station in an existing City of Grand Rapids lot.

2. How many spaces are in each lot?

The 60th Street Park ‘n’ Ride lot will have approximately 200 spaces, and the Burton Park ‘n’ Ride will initially have space for eight vehicles. There is potential to convert additional spaces in this lot based on demand.

15375148-large

3. How much does it cost to park?

Both of the Silver Line Park ‘n’ Ride lots are free. Currently, the spaces in the Burton Park ‘n’ Ride lot are metered at a rate of 50 cents per hour. Silver Line monthly riders will be able to use them for free. The Rapid and the city’s Parking Commission are still finalizing details on the details of the Burton Silver Line lot.

3. Will Silver Line riders need some form of validation to park in these lots?

There are currently no plans for validation at the 60th Street Park ‘n’ Ride lot. At the Burton park ‘n’ ride lot, there are still conversations being held to determine the best plan for validating Silver Line riders that park in the available eight spaces.

4. Can you park overnight?

These lots will share the same designation as a typical MDOT park ‘n’ ride lot. Overnight parking will be allowed. However, abandoned vehicles will be towed and vehicles with For Sale signs will not be allowed.

10486821_10152212072992374_8144427090599673570_o5. Will there be more park ‘n’ ride lots in the future?

Additional park ‘n’ ride lots will depend on demand.

Will you use these park ‘n’ ride lots?

 

Posted in Silver Line on

Do You Have Burning Questions About The Silver Line?

Let’s talk Silver Line. With the Division Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Project arriving in less than a month, we’re prepared to answer any last minute questions you may have. Join us on Tuesday, July 29 and Monday, August 11 in the Community Room at Central Station from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. Silver Line Open House

From new ticket vending machines to designated lanes, Michigan’s first BRT line brings several new transportation aspects to the Greater Grand Rapids area. These open houses will feature conversations about elements of the Silver Line with Rapid staff, as well as a chance to see a ticket vending machines and Silver Line bus up close.

Experience the momentum before opening day!

 

Posted in Silver Line on

The Silver Line & Designated Lanes: 4 Questions Answered

The opening of the Silver Line on August 25 is just over a month away. As we get closer to the maiden voyage of Michigan’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) line, here’s what you need to know about the designated lanes that will be in place along much of the route.

1. Where will the designated lanes be located?

The Silver Line will run between 60th Street and Division and Rapid Central Station.  The route is primarily along Division, but will loop through downtown to serve key employment centers, educational institutions, health care facilities, and entertainment venues. On August 25, about two-thirds of the 9.6-mile route will be reserved for buses only during peak periods of travel, 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Bus-only lanes will be signed and marked running both directions of Division from Maplelawn Street, just north of 44th Street to Wealthy. The only exception regarding these designated lanes is about 500 feet north and south of the intersections at 36th, 28th, and Burton streets. There also will be a bus-only lane on Monroe Avenue NW between Michigan and Fulton streets.

Bus only lanes are a main stay in many cities around the world.

Bus-only lanes are a main stay in many cities around the world.

2. When will the designated lanes be in use?

The designated lanes will be reserved for buses from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. weekdays. All other traffic — excluding emergency and public service vehicles — will be prohibited from right lanes during rush hours. During reserved times, individual motorists will only the lane to make a right turn.

3. How will the designated lanes impact traffic?

“Engineering models suggest the bus-only lanes will have a “minimal” effect on traffic flow,” said Conrad Venema, strategic planning manager for The Rapid. “In most cases, we were not downgrading the traffic. It’s also important to note that the bus-only lanes will not exist at many intersections. While the stretches of the route in between these intersections may have delays.

4. Who will enforce the use of these designated lanes?

City police would enforce the use bus-only lanes, issuing civil infraction tickets. Ordinances for lane restriction enforcement are currently being reviewed by Wyoming and Kentwood.

We’re excited to see the Silver Line come to life in our community. If you’re seeking to travel within this corridor, the Silver Line is a low-cost, convenient, and easy option for getting you where you need to go!

Do you have any other questions about the designated bus-only lanes? Please share them in our comment section!

Posted in News on

Bringing Nature To Central Station

Rapid Central Station recently became a little more green. But little maybe be an understatement, as our new foliage installation is actually one of the area’s largest outdoor living walls.

The 500 square foot planted wall was completed last week by a joint effort between LiveWall LLC and Summit Landscape Management of Grand Rapids. The green wall took approximately four days to install and plant with a selection of colorful, cold-hardy perennials. Better yet, the chosen flora was all grown locally in Spring Lake by LiveWall, LLC.

This living wall springing to life behind our Silver Line stop at Central Station isn’t our first venture into green or sustainable infrastructure. In fact, we’re proud to be recognized nationally for using hybrid buses and building two LEED certified buildings, both of which feature green roofs. Our green roofs help to protect water quality by reducing storm water runoff, restoring lost habitat, and save on cooling costs.

The living wall also helps to cool the building and restore lost habitat, but unlike the green roofs, it’s more visible to those who matter most (you!). “We’ve transformed a steel and concrete surface into a public garden, providing a more pleasant and relaxing experience for our customers,” said Jennifer Kalczuk, spokesperson for The Rapid.

The Rapid LiveWall Installation July 2 2014“We worked with a local contractor and a local supplier who uses western Michigan sources of plants, soil, plastics and aluminum, ensuring that this investment benefits the local economy,” said Steve Schipper, The Rapid’s manager of fleet and facilities.

LiveWall president Dave MacKenzie, who also owns LiveRoof, LLC, the company that supplied the living roofs atop Rapid Operations Center and Central Station buildings, is confident that the additional green space will have a positive impact on the community.

“When it comes to the social and environmental benefits of keeping people connected to nature, the evidence is piling up. From lasting positive impacts on mental health, to reduced vandalism and crime rates, to cooler and cleaner air, reintroducing plants lost to development is a very good move for the community. And, with a living wall, beautiful and functional gardens can thrive where no workable land is available.”

Our green wall will be the fourth publicly visible LiveWall System in Grand Rapids. Currently there are 1,400 square feet of vertical garden, mostly edible plants, installed at the B.O.B.; the Downtown Market contains an 800 square foot living wall on the south and west walls; and the John Ball Zoo has a green wall on the chimpanzee house.

Have you had a chance to see our new living wall?

Posted in News on

Celebrating The Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964

It’s time to celebrate the achievements of public transportation! Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964. To give you some background, the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This act created the program for federal investment in public transportation systems across the U.S. by providing grants and loans to assist local transportation systems. The federal, state, local and private partnership the act established was key to revitalizing public transit systems that were declining due to disinvestment. It also created an oversight agency, eventually evolving into the Federal Transit Administration.

Photo courtesy of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on FB

Photo courtesy of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on FB

You can see why this is a big day in our history. This is why the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is calling on Congress to take action to address the urgency of the Highway Trust Fund shortfall and provide a solution to the nation’s long-term transportation investment needs.

“Fifty years ago today, Congress took a visionary step in authorizing federal funding for public transportation that has ushered in public transit services that now provide 10.7 billion trips annually and have spurred economic growth for our communities and nation,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “APTA calls on Congress to continue this legacy and take decisive action to address the Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account shortfalls this month and work towards passage of a multi- year, well-funded transportation bill in the coming months.”

Just like 1964, it’s time for Congress to demonstrate leadership through a significant, sustained investment in public transportation so that future generations of Americans can rely on public transportation to provide mobility, build communities and power economic opportunity.”Under the current bill, transportation funding will expire at the end of September. Even before that, unless Congress acts, the Highway Trust Fund is in danger of insolvency this summer and the Mass Transit Account as early as October.

This spring, APTA announced its recommended plan for a $100.4 billion federal transit program over six years, which would create an additional 1.1 million jobs created or sustained annually, $66 billion in business sales generated yearly and $9.5 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue generated each year.

To commemorate the anniversary and stress the importance of continued Congressional leadership on the issue of public transportation, APTA held a Transportation Tuesday program last night featuring Therese McMillan, acting administrator of the Federal Transportation Administration and Richard Sarles, general manager/CEO of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.  They highlighted the achievements of public transit throughout the last 50 years and discussed its exciting future.