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Get On Board To Shop Local On Small Business Saturday

Riding the bus is a great way to discover local businesses throughout the Grand Rapids metro area. And the holiday season is the perfect time to explore what small shops have to offer. This Saturday, November 29, think local and shop small for Small Business Saturday.

Shop small for Small Business Saturday

Let The Rapid be your connection to finding great gifts throughout our service area. Here’s our list of great places to shop small this Saturday:

6.25 Paper Studio
Stationary lovers, this is the shop for you. Located directly downtown, this stationary boutique offers custom invitations, gifts, and greeting cards for all occasions.
Location: 40 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 745-5402
Nearby routes: Routes 1, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15

Art of the Table – This unique retailer offers specialty foods from U.S. artisan companies, as well as wine and beer from small family-owned wineries and breweries.
Location: 606 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 301-1885
Nearby routes: Routes 4 & 5

Clothing Matters 
If you or someone you love appreciates quality eco-apparel, then this specialty retailer should do the trick. Find sustainable apparel from over 100 designers.
Location: 141 Diamond SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 742-2818
Nearby routes: Routes 6 & 14

DeVries Jewelers
Discover fine jewelry at this fourth-generation family business.
Location: 411 Leonard St., Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Phone: (616) 454-6892
Nearby Route: 7

Foot Outfitters
Quality shoes and bus travel go hand in hand. This local footwear and clothing boutique specializes in comfort footwear.
Location: 411 Robinson Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 451-4732
Nearby routes: 6 & 19

Frames Unlimited
This family-owned business offers everything from professional framing to restoration services.
Location: 2964 28th St. SE Kentwood, MI 49512
Phone: (616) 942-0091
Nearby routes: 5, 6, 17, 28, 44

Global Gifts
Here you will find fair-trade products from world artisans including jewelry, linens, coffee, and much more.
Location: 2055 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
Phone: (616) 245-2225
Nearby routes: 5 & 28

Global Infusion
Fair-trade gifts, decor, clothing, and provisions make this marketplace a must-visit location for the holidays.
Location: 143 Diamond SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 776-9720
Nearby routes: 6 & 14

Grand Rapids Bicycle Company
Your local source for purchasing, repairing, and accessorizing your bicycle. 
Location: 644 Lovett Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 272-4861
Nearby route: 6

Hello Again Outlet Store 
This local luxury consignment and sample boutique offers men’s and women’s fashion pieces at great prices.
Location: 6095 28th St. Suite 3, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Phone: (616) 608-6265
Nearby route: 5

Hop Scotch Children’s Store 
Here you will find natural fiber clothing for babies and children, as well as natural parenting toys and gear created by local artisans.
Location: 909 Cherry Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 233-4008
Nearby routes: 4, 6, 14

Legends Sports & Games
Calling all sports fans! Located in Woodland Mall, this family-owned business specializes in sports collectibles, team apparel, and memorabilia. 
Location: 3115 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Phone: (616) 940-8173 x100
Nearby routes: 5, 6, 17, 24, 28, 44

Leigh’s
This upscale women’s specialty store offers the best in apparel, accessories, jewelry, shoes, and cosmetics. 
Location: 1942 Breton Road, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 942-6300
Nearby routes: 5, 6, 24

Metal Art Studio Fine Jewelry
Offering designer jewelry from around the world, this local store holds something for every occasion.
Location: 978 Cherry Street, SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 459-5075
Nearby routes: 6, 14, 19

Minty Keen
If you’re seeking a vintage, handmade, or eco-friendly present, Minty Keen should be at the top of your shopping list.
Location: 40 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 551-1613
Nearby routes: Silver Line, 1, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15

O’Connor’s Home Brew Supply
This local home brew store offers numerous products for current or aspiring home brewers.
Location: 619 Lyon St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 635-2088
Nearby routes: 6, 13, 15, 19

Old World Olive Co.
Discover the finest olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around around the world. 
Location: 108 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 884-0107
Nearby routes: Silver Line, 6, 9, 11, 13, 19, 50

Rainbow Music Inc.
Here you will find musical instruments for rental or purchase, as well as music lessons.
Location: 1148 Leonard NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Phone: (616) 774-0565
Nearby routes: 7

Schuler Books
A local staple, this bookstore also offers music and gifts. 
Location: 2660 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Phone: (616) 942-2561
Nearby routes: 5 & 28

Sissy’s Sweet Shoppe LLC
Seeking a bit of retro nostalgia? This old-fashioned candy shop has something tasty for patrons of all ages. 
Location: 38 Commerce Ave SW 104, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 710-1814
Nearby routes: 1, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15

Spirit Dreams
This local shop offers a variety of gifts dedicated to holistic health, wellness, and spiritual growth.
Location: 1430 Lake Dr., Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 456-9889
Nearby routes: 6 & 19

The Cheese Lady Grand Rapids
While the shop name is an indicator of what lies inside, this local store also offers specialty items, gift baskets, and much more.
Location: 315 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 242-9880
Nearby routes: 13 & 19

V&A Shoes
This local footwear retailer sells a variety of comfortable, quality shoes.
Location: 3620 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Phone: (616) 719-5840
Nearby routes: 17 & 28

What’s your favorite local retailer? Show them some love this Saturday!

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8 Smart Riding Tips For Winter Weather

It may not officially be winter on the calendar, but the season’s weather is now upon us. As you ride the bus in the snow and cold, there are a few good habits you can practice to ensure smarter and safer travel this winter. Here are eight bus riding tips for a smoother commute:

1. Dress warmly. Safe winter bus travel begins with warm and visible attire. Since winter road conditions affect all traffic, expecting bus delays means dressing appropriately for the cold. Start with a few layers of warm clothing and don’t forget to wear a hat or hood and gloves. Snow boots are also important for wading through deep snow.Children riding The Rapid.

2. Be visible. On dark winter mornings and evenings, it’s important that you make yourself visible to an approaching bus. Signal your presence with a small blinker light or flashlight. If you don’t have any reflective gear, wearing light-color clothing is helpful for ensuring drivers can see you.

3. Stand back. When your bus arrives, be sure to put some distance between you and the vehicle. Icy roads can lead to slipping wheels, so protect yourself by stepping back from the curb or arrival area and farther into the safe zone of the sidewalk.

4. Wait in a cleared place. When weather is heavy, bus stops may be completely covered in snow and ice. If possible, avoid standing knee-deep in snow. Stay comfortable by standing in the nearest cleared area and waving the vehicle down. Rapid bus operators are trained to pick up passengers in driveways or the nearest cleared area during poor weather conditions. Plus, your dry toes will thank you.

5. Step carefully. While our buses feature non-slip floors, it’s important to step with care regardless. Use handrails when boarding the bus to ensure your safety.

6. Expect delays. Winter weather conditions affect all traffic. During these times we are working to get you safely to your destination, and buses move only as quickly as traffic allows. If there is snow or ice, consider taking an earlier bus to ensure that you arrive at your destination on time.

7. Be kind to your driver. Please be respectful to your driver despite delays. If your bus is late, remember that your driver is doing his or her best to make sure you arrive at your destination despite bad road conditions.

8. Stay connected to service information. Before you leave to catch your bus, get the latest updates on detours:

– Check the Alerts & Detours page on ridetherapid.org or m.ridetherapid.org (mobile).
– Track your bus in real time and check public service message on Rapid Connect.
– Call 776-1100 to speak to a Rapid Customer Information Representative.
– Sign up to get route alerts and public service messages to your email inbox or via text message.
– Follow The Rapid on Twitter and/or Facebook.
– Check local TV and radio stations when severe weather conditions occur.

Remember these tips for safer and smarter travel throughout the winter.

Do you prefer to ride the bus in the winter?

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Honoring Veterans At The Rapid And Throughout The Community

This Veterans Day we wanted to share special thank you to all of the veterans that keep us moving here at The Rapid. We’re fortunate to  have so many Rapid employees who have previously and continue to serve our country. On Facebook this past week we shared the names and photos of our veterans. Here’s the full list of all of our honored service members:

Happy Veterans Day

– Robert (Bob) Bennett –  Army, 1974-1994

– Dan Shull –  Navy, 1970-1973

– Elza Beard – Marine Corps, 1984-1988

– Abe Riley –  Army, 1979-1982

– Ron Prys – Navy, 1968-1973

– Manny Esquivel – Army, 1967-1970

– Jodie Burns – Air Force, 1985-1987

– Donnell Harvey – Air Force, 1981-1985

– Norm Young – Army, 1975-1977

– Robert Olejniczak  – Navy, 1983-1993

– Doug Pierce – Air Force, 1975-1979

– Steve Clapp – Army/National Guard, 1986-2008

– William Morrison – Army/National Guard, 1981-Present

– Leon Carrico –  Army, 1970-1991

– Jim Archie –  Navy, 1983-1989

– Henry Borgeling  – Army, 1980-2010

– Betty Hughes – Air Force, 1976 – 1980

– Matt Oudbier – Marines, 2004 – 2012

– Andrew Pardee – Army, 2005 – 2013

– Joe Biven – Army, 2002- 2006

– Dave Krenz –  Army, 2002 – 2008

– Erik Zwolinski – Air Force, 2006 – 2010

– Noel Plaska –  Army, 1984-2009

We would also like to thank all of the veterans within the Greater Grand Rapids area. We are grateful for your service.

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6 Things To Know About Transportation In Grand Rapids

Craft beer, travel destinations, philanthropy — Grand Rapids is no stranger when it comes to topping lists. But transportation is one area that Grand Rapids and its surrounding cities are making waves in that may not be on your radar.

While public transportation and other non-car options may not be the first thing that comes to mind for most Grand Rapidians, people and organizations across the country are looking toward us for great transit lessons. In fact, Next City recently published an article touting why our great city of Grand Rapids earned a place on the “great transit map.” This past year has been a big year for transit in the area.  To get you up to speed, here are six things to know about transportation in Grand Rapids:

1. Grand Rapids is home to Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line. We launched the Silver Line on August 25, 2014. Nearly a decade in the making, the Silver Line offers riders rail-like convenience and comfort on a more cost-effective vehicle. The BRT route connects Grand Rapids, Kentwood, and Wyoming, while offering access to several exciting destinations throughout the community.

2. The Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak Station allows for a multimodal transit hub. Just last week West Michigan took a step toward improving the connection between Grand Rapids and Chicago with the opening of the new Amtrak Station. Named after the former West Michigan congressman, the new station location provided an upgrade for passenger rail riders. Also, the opening of the Vernon J. Ehlers Station ensured that Rapid Central Station would be truly a multimodal transportation center.

3. The Rapid’s unique partnership structure is beneficial. Our board is made up of 15 members from six municipalities in and around Grand Rapids. “We have six municipal governments working side by side, and I think the suburban neighborhoods really get a voice,” said Grand Rapids mayor and Rapid board member George Heartwell. Planning a unified system for everyone has been easier under this structure, he adds, whereas too often urban and suburban agencies collide on parochial interests and fears.

4. Grand Rapids has given a nod to transit-oriented development. In 2002, officials updated the city’s master plan on smart growth principles to encourage development that would public transportation use. Grand Rapids planning director Suzanne Schulz shared two important things to note about this update. One is that the planning commission can now waive all parking requirements for new developments. Second, officials decided that if a developer was in line with the new plan’s overall goals — “if they are building what the city wants,” Schulz says — the approval process can be wildly accelerated. Instead of going through city and planning commission meetings for approval, that developer only needs administrative permission.

5. It’s more than just public transportation, Grand Rapids understands multimodal travel. Aside from big strides in public transportation, Grand Rapids is focused on improving multimodal travel for all citizens. Both citizens and the city as a whole are focused on improving travel options for those not interested in the sole use of a vehicle. You may have noticed bike lanes springing up throughout the city. In a step toward communicating bike safety and the important of multimodal options, the city recently began ticket cars parked in bike lanes.

6. Other cities are looking to Grand Rapid for public transportation wisdom. With all of these great things taking place in Grand Rapids, it’s no surprise that the national Center for Transportation Excellence announced it would hold its 2015 transit initiatives conference there. They even called the city a “learning laboratory for leaders around the country.” Much larger cities across the nation are working to prioritize multimodal transportation options.

“People want transit; they’re demanding transit along with great bike facilities and walkways,” Heartwell says. “It’s good for a city’s growth. It’s good for air quality. And I think it’s going to be good for the city that makes those investments today.”

Posted in Places to Go on

Silver Line & Dine: Discover Authentic Chinese Cuisine at Wei Wei Palace

Calling all foodies! The Silver Line is your connection to delicious and diverse restaurants within the Division Avenue corridor.

All too often public transportation is used in a context that describes a means to live and work. But public transit is also a crucial connection to play. And with the opening of Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line, we’re excited to provide you with a guide to several establishments where you can “play” within close proximity to Silver Line Stations.

For those seeking to “Silver Line & Dine” on authentic Chinese cuisine, look no further than Wei Wei Palace. Just two blocks north of the southbound 44th Street Silver Line Station, Wei Wei is located at 4242 S. Division Avenue, inside the Kim Nhuong Super Store.

Photo courtesy of MLive.

A quick scan of the menu points to everything from barbecue to seafood, and numerous vegetarian options. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-time devotee of this hidden gem, there’s a dish for every appetite. Wei Wei’s most notable menu item is Dim Sum, which is only available on Saturday and Sunday. Bonus: Dessert is on the house. Wei Wei offers free sesame rice balls to all patrons.  

Planning your trip to Wei Wei Palace is easy with our digital tools. Map your trip via your desktop computer using Rapid Connect or on your smartphone using the myStop app or Google Maps. If you don’t already have a ticket to ride, purchase yours before you board at any ticket vending machine at all Silver Line Stations, Central Station, or any participating locations. Savvy riders should consider purchasing a 1-day pass for $3.00 to get more for your money.

Let the Silver Line be your connection to exploring delicious food around the greater Grand Rapids area.

Where: 4242 S. Division, Grand Rapids (inside Kim Nhung Super Store complex)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; Dim Sum offered all day Saturday and Sunday.
Rapid Route connections: Silver Line, Route 1, Route 44.

Have you rode the Silver Line to get to your favorite restaurant?

 

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Manpower Hosts Transit Accessible Job Fair

Calling all production, warehouse and labor workers in Grand Rapids! Manpower has more than 400 jobs available that provide steady income, as well as being located near bus routes.

Public transportation and jobs go hand-in-hand. Robust public transit infrastructure creates, supports, and provides access to jobs. This is why we are excited to announce that Manpower is hosting a Job Fair focused on jobs accessible by Rapid fixed-routes at Rapid Central Station.Manpower0logo

Touting opportunities for everyone, applicants are not required to have a high school diploma or GED. Simply bring your experience, along with your ability to pass a background check and drug clearance to a job that offers you:

– $9.00+ per hour
– Consistent steady shifts
– Clean and safe environment
– An opportunity to grow with companies that have outstanding reputations

The Manpower Job Fair will take place at Rapid Central Station on Tuesday, October 21st from 10:00am – 3:00pm.

Bonus: We know that great talent knows great talent and we want to reward you! If you refer someone to work for Manpower and they successfully complete their assignment you could potentially earn $100 cash for each referral. Help friends and family find a job and earn money for yourself! Come to the job fair to learn more.

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The Laker Line Study Rolls Out The Future Of Route 50

With the Laker Line Study finishing it’s third phase, the plans for Route 50 were unveiled yesterday at a public meeting held at Grand Valley University. The final phase of the study revealed the locally preferred alternative (community-driven results) featuring routing, station locations and the amenities of what will become Grand Rapids’ second bus rapid transit (BRT) system set to roll in 2018.

The consultants for the Laker Line Study were tasked with offering a recommended transit enhancement that takes into account a number of factors including ridership potential, economic development opportunity and estimated project costs. All of these factors will ultimately result in the transit project being competitive in the federal process for funding consideration.Fulton Street Laker Line Station Location

The preliminary recommendations for the 13-mile Laker Line system showcased routing between Grand Valley University and downtown Grand Rapids. Proposed routing for the Laker Line will begin at GVSU’s Kirkhof center in Allendale, travel north to Lake Michigan Drive and east to downtown’s Fulton Street and Monroe Avenue. Buses will then travel north to Medical Mile before terminating at Lafayette Avenue.

The route will feature 14 stations. While a maximum of 13 vehicles will be on a six-minute frequency between them during peak times. This service is closely matched to the current level of service provided on routes 50 and 51.

As ridership continues to grow on 50 and 51 routes, the future Laker Line BRT enhancement will increase efficiency and meet capacity needs within the corridor. Planners expect 13,000 riders each day — a 13 percent increase above existing service.

Locally perferred alternativeSimilar to the Silver Line, the Laker Line will also utilize signal priority technology to hold lights green. This allows buses to move more efficiently through intersections. There are also dedicated bus-only lanes proposed on GVSU’s campus and Fulton.

The open house held yesterday offered the public one last opportunity for feedback before the formal recommendation process begins. The next steps for the Laker Line Study include the presentation of the locally preferred alternative to the Laker Line Advisory and Policy committees for approval in early November. The Rapid Board is also expected to consider the recommendation at its meeting in December. While an environmental analysis of the results will be competed before the project application can be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration for consideration next fall for funding.

Did you provide input for the future of Route 50?

 

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The Laker Line Arrives At ArtPrize

An exhibit highlighting facts and details of a proposed new bus rapid transit line connecting Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus with Downtown Grand Rapids is on display. The Laker Line Study interactive visual display, pictured below, incorporates the Silver Line bus rapid transit (BRT) station at the corner of Monroe Avenue NW and Louis Street, near Rosa Parks Circle.

Laker Line Study ExhibitA study of enhanced transit options along the existing Route 50 corridor will soon conclude, recommending BRT service connecting GVSU’s Allendale and downtown campuses through downtown to the Medical Mile. More than 11,000 riders currently use the existing Route 50 service daily during GVSU’s academic year, making it The Rapid’s busiest route. BRT service would enhance capacity and travel times over existing bus service, and would incorporate new technologies, such as traffic light prioritization, real-time schedule updates, and smartphone app integration.

Among the facts about the Laker Line and BRT shown in the exhibit:

• The Laker Line would combine existing Routes 50 and 51 into BRT service.
• BRT offers platform level boarding, prepaid fares, roll-on bicycle accommodations, and traffic signal priority.
• BRT would shorten travel times between campuses by an estimated 5 minutes compared with existing bus service.
• An Instagram “selfie” contest, in which photos uploaded to the social photo sharing site tagged #LakerLine will be entered into a drawing for a free 31-day pass.IMG_4995

The exhibit will be on display through the end of ArtPrize later this month.

 

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The Rapid & The American Seating Company

If you have boarded the Silver Line, it’s hard to miss the one-of-a-kind seats within the bus rapid transit (BRT) buses. Did you know that these comfortable seats are made right here in Grand Rapids by The American Seating Company?

In fact, all Rapid buses feature seats from American Seating. But with the creation of the Silver Line seats we were offered a special behind-the-scenes look into the entire manufacturing process. Now that the Silver Line has been in motion for more than a month, we’re excited to share this behind-the-scenes at what went into making Michigan’s first BRT. As the transportation authority for the Greater Grand Rapids area, we’re proud to support our local economy by working with American Seating. Here’s a glimpse at how the Silver Line seats were built:

Facts about American Seating:

– American Seating employs a Grand Rapids-based workforce of over 400.
– American Seating purchases 75 percent of its raw materials from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
– Ninety-five person of its products are made from domestic content.
– 100 percent of American Seating products are manufactured in the U.S.
– Almost all raw materials used by American Seating are from the U.S.
– More than 75 percent of the nation’s city-service bus seats are made by American Seating.
– Major cities with American Seating bus seats include Chicago, Washington DC, New York, Miama, St. Louis, San Francisco and, of course, The Rapid in Grand Rapids.
– Every 100 sets of bus seats equals 4-6 full-time employees.

Have you had a chance to test out the seats on the Silver Line?

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Digital Signage Takes The Front Seat On Route 6

Printed advertisements and passenger information on buses may soon be a thing of the past. As we take another step forward in our commitment to our focus in technology, we’re excited to partner with Hadley for an exclusive pilot program to test drive the latest passenger information and advertising technology.

Hadley is bringing dynamic information and advertising to transit passengers by integrating digital signage into the panels of Hadley’s XD interior system already present on bus #1082. Here at The Rapid, we’re looking forward to acting as a test market in introducing the benefits of digital signage to passengers.Hadley Digital Signage

“The Rapid is pleased to have Hadley as a technology partner to bring real-time information to our passengers”, said Jennifer Kalczuk, external relations manager of The Rapid.

Digital signage utilizes monitors that are installed inside transit vehicles to provide customized information that is geolocalized, which means it is relevant to the location of the vehicle at the time it is displayed. There are a number of benefits to digital signage. It enhances convenience by sharing rider information, weather updates, traffic conditions, as well as promotions for dining, entertainment, and shopping options at the next stop along the route.

The new digital signage integrates directly with the  Hadley XD interior system that has previously been installed at bus #1082. Many Rapid riders have noticed the distinct differences of the interior system on this bus already. Some passengers have noted it’s airplane-like qualities. We believe the additional signage will only help to increase the unique rider experience.

You may be wondering what’s going on behind the scenes to make this digital signage function effectively. Hadley’s digital signage uses a cutting edge software platform that allows The Rapid and advertising partners to publish and plan content and advertising in a very effective time saving manner. While the technology triggering localized information known as GeoFence Scheduling triggers signal that allows for location based route information.

The Hadley digital signage is currently installed on bus #1082 and being piloted on Route 6. This route carries passengers through downtown, crossing several vibrant communities with a variety of local businesses.

“As a Grand Rapids based company, Hadley is delighted to partner with The Rapid to bring the benefits of digital signage on transit buses to our community”, said Giorgio Verduzio, director of transit division for Hadley.

The pilot program began last week and continues through March 2015.

What are your thoughts on the digital signage?