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Real Rider Stories – Bill DeVries

1337360726_billthumbRetirement is not a reason for Bill DeVries to slow down. He relies on a combination of his bike and The Rapid to participate in local events, volunteer, explore his surroundings – even visit his granddaughters. Bill loves to ride because it’s affordable, green and allows him to live an active life.

“It gives you a chance to go different places.”

Excerpts from Bill’s interview…

“I use a bus to go to downtown and for Festival and ArtPrize and things like, this one is very nice so I can go to the January Series on the bus even riding my bike in the winter time.”

“After I retired I looked for inexpensive and ways to get around and I’m also an environmentalist so I look for the least carbon footprint I can make and I have more time now so I can take the bicycle and the bus together.”

“It gives you a chance to see the different parts of city and go different places that you wouldn’t otherwise go because of either parking or costs too much.”

“I like to explore the world around me and I use it to the bus to get there.”

“I like to see different areas and take different rides every once in a while and explore my surroundings.”

“I’m Dutch, so I try to save as much money as I can.”

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Real Rider Stories – Stan Greene

1337360757_stanthumbStan Greene has made intentional adjustments in his life to ‘live more gently’ on our planet. With that in mind, he starts and ends his day riding The Rapid as a reliable resource for getting around town. But he also gets the benefit of connecting to the people and the places that are a part of the community.

“I’d rather read my Fast Company magazine than worry about my turn signal.”

Excerpts from Stan’s interview…

“It’s a way of really having a connection to the daily flow and rhythm of the place that I live.”

“I made the intentional decision to move back in to the city of Grand Rapids about—it’s going to be almost 3 years ago with this fall. And one of the factors was the desire to have the opportunity to use public transit on a more regular basis.”

“For me, riding The Rapid is definitely a choice. It’s a personal choice to live differently.”

“With the expansion of services and the extension of hours in the last couple of months, that’s become even a greater benefit because now there’s a lot more flexibility in terms of the times and opportunities to use public transportation.”

“I ride the bus because having the opportunity to interact with people as part of my daily activities is an important life element for me. I ride the bus because I appreciate not driving 30 minutes in the morning to work. I ride the bus because I’d like to be able to read my Fast Company magazine rather than worry about my turn signal during my commute. I ride the bus because that’s what people do when they live in a cool city.”

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Real Rider Stories – Emily Martin

1337360794_emilythumb

For 10 years, Emily Martin has relied on The Rapid as a transportation option for work, school and entertainment. It helps her reduce the cost – and the hassle – of car ownership. More importantly, she loves its role in building a better community. It gives everyone the freedom to go the places they need to go in their lives. The Rapid is going places. It’s time to get on board.

Emily Martin sees more than just savings when she rides The Rapid. She sees a community she’s proud to live in.

“You feel more a part of the community when you’re
riding the bus.”

Excerpts from Emily’s interview…

“I’ve been riding The Rapid for 10 years, ever since I’ve moved to Grand Rapids.”

“Driving your car is a very solitary thing. But when you’re on the bus, you’re with other people. You feel more part of a community when you’re riding the bus as transportation versus driving your car because then it’s usually just you.”

“I ride the bus because I think good public transportation is part of what builds a strong community.”

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Hank Meijer Speaks on Public Transit and Accessibility in a Growing City

Hank Meijer, Co-Chairman & CEO, Meijer Inc.

Hank Meijer, Co-Chairman & CEO, Meijer Inc.

Co-Chairman and CEO of a retail chain that serves hundreds of thousands of customers each day, Hank Meijer understands how important it is to be accessible. Look at many of the chain’s Grand Rapids area stores and you’ll see that they’re on transit lines; some feature bus stops.

“When we look at a potential store location we ask, ‘how accessible is it; are our customers and team members going to be able to get to us?’” says Meijer.

Leader of a retail chain that began as a single storefront in Greenville, Michigan and now operates almost 200 stores in five states, Meijer also understands the dynamics of growth.
Meijer believes that people need choices – alternate ways of traveling in the region, whether by choice or necessity – and that public transit should be one of those choices.

“Grand Rapids feels as if it’s on the edge of a very exciting future,” says Meijer.

“To make those aspirations real, to meet the needs of a growing region, the more people who can get on board, the better.”

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We Can Make Our Community Better With Public Transportation – Ellen James

Ellen James, Board Treasurer, Grand Rapids Community College

Ellen James, Board Treasurer, Grand Rapids Community College

Ellen James remembers taking the bus to Davenport College as a student. Now in her third term as a board trustee for Grand Rapids Community College, she realizes how vitally important public transit is, not only for students, but to any resident short on other methods of transportation.

“It’s important that this community rally for the best transit system that we can possibly have.”

James recognizes that not everyone who supports a public transit system uses it every day, but points out that easy access to buses benefits someone you know, someone else in your community who may not have the same resources. This access, she says, is key to the West Michigan region’s continued growth and prosperity, getting people to and from school and jobs, and making it easier to attract the interest of visitors and employers from outside the region, further driving our economic engine.

“We tend to look at Grand Rapids as kind of a small town, but it’s quite sophisticated and it’s becoming a major player in this part of the state and in the country. It’s important that this community grow together.”

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Everyone is Affected by Public Transportation – Joe Jones

Joe Jones, President/CEO, E.E. Milestone + Associates, Inc.

Joe Jones, President/CEO, E.E. Milestone + Associates, Inc.

A Grand Rapids Urban League board member and deeply involved in community initiatives for many years, Joe Jones has seen the impact of both good and bad economies on the area’s residents. In either scenario, access to public transportation is the foundation for job creation and job opportunities. The underlying question, he says, is always the same – how are people going to get to the jobs?

Jones pointed out that the transit system, The Rapid, serves the employer as well as the employee, that it serves the retailer and the local church, the library, our local government. Its impact is far-reaching yet often unseen and not fully appreciated.

“It speaks to the importance of The Rapid … it’s a major component of the economic engine.”

“No matter where you are in life, either yourself or someone you know is affected by public transportation. If you’re the CEO of a major corporation, there’s no doubt that there are folks within your ranks who are bus riders. If you’re a nuclear family … with cars, there’s no doubt that you have relatives, fellow congregants, who are solely dependent on public transportation.”

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Investing in Public Transportation Helps Develop a Vibrant Community – Mike VanGessel

Mike VanGessel, President, Rockford Construction

Mike VanGessel, President, Rockford Construction

As the leader of a company who’s ideas and innovation have drawn projects and praise from across the state and the nation, Mike VanGessel has a unique perspective of the value of location and mobility. As the hub of the metro area, downtown Grand Rapids helps fuel an economic engine that, while sputtering in other parts of the state, continues to hum in West Michigan. A builder, he knows that a structure’s location is one of the keys to success. The other is mobility – will people be able to access it easily, anytime, in any weather? The key to mobility, he says, is public transportation.

“The bus system is just one component of a bigger conversation we need to have. You can call it taxation or subsidization if you want, but it’s an investment in one of the pieces that make this community a better place to live.”

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Creating an Economic Driver to Jobs and Education – Bob Roth

1319854316_bobroth_small1In a quest to learn more about his own business practice, Bob Roth came to a conclusion…”small changes can lead pretty substantial gains.”

In fact, his own curiosity drove him to explore how a once-a-week commitment to riding The Rapid from home to work could impact his life. Looking at it just from the numbers alone, Roth found an immediate 20% improvement on his commute spending.

“I could see with my own eyes what The Rapid was doing.”

But other aspects of Bob’s experiment proved even more interesting. Who he was sitting next to…and how many there were…was equally impressive. On his early morning commute the bus was full. Half of them were students. The other half were people going to work. Not at all the stereotype. Bob was experiencing how public transportation can act as an economic driver.

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Public Transit is an investment in our future – David LaGrand

David LaGrand, Owner, Wealthy Street Bakery

David LaGrand, Owner, Wealthy Street Bakery

As a part of the ownership team for Wealthy Street Bakery, David LaGrand and his partners quickly recognized that 75% of their employees could walk, bike or take public transportation to work. The take-away? These people had a choice on how to get to and from work. In fact, the choice equates to $2 per hour. For David, that’s a meaningful impact in the take-home pay for anyone that chooses to use public transportation.

Adding public transportation is doing more than that though. It’s creating community. A community that can grow and excel. But it also means we’re now competing with communities for people that expect these services.

“We have to have the courage to invest if we’re going to prosper”

LaGrand sees public transportation as a long-term investment – a commitment to where we want to go. Public transportation is a key part of the infrastructure we need.

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American Seating Directly Benefits from Healthy Public Transportation Industry – Ed Clark

1319854785_edclark_smallAmerican Seating is unique in its ability to discuss the benefits of good public transportation. On one hand, few companies are as dependent on the success of public transportation as American Seating. An industry leader in seating for public transportation, the demand for their products directly maintains manufacturing jobs in our area. In fact, over 500 jobs at the company’s west side Grand Rapids facility are connected to the industry.

Those jobs stayed where they are partially because of the industry American Seating serves. Fifteen years, when moving or improving their existing property were both viable options, leadership identified over 200 people that walked or rode the bus. It became one of the key factors to stay. It was an investment in local jobs and economic growth.

“We’re an urban company. That’s the decision we made.”

Clark sees more more good news. “More people are going to be realizing the benefits of using mass transit to get to and from work, to and from shopping. I think it bodes well for any city the size of Grand Rapids to have a good infrastructure of mass transit so we can attract business to the area.”