Posted in Places to Go on

Places to go: Ride Guide for June 6 – 12

While summer may not officially be here just yet, festivals certainly have arrived. This weekend and coming week are jam-packed with events and activities. Enjoy!

– June 5 – 7 — Festival of the Arts
Finally! Don’t miss West Michigan’s celebration of the arts. Three days of art, food, music, and more.

Routes nearby: Located only a few blocks from Rapid Central Station, nearly all routes can get you close. Please be cautious about route detours. 

– June 6 — Local First Street Party
Get ready to drinks, eat, listen to music, create art and kick off summer. This is a free, family-friendly event.

Routes nearby: 1, 4, 9, 14, 15 & many more. View routes nearby.

– June 7 — Outdoor Farmers Market
Be sure to check out the vendors at this farmers market located at the Downtown Market. Don’t forget your reusable grocery bags!

Routes nearby: Silver Line, 1, 2, as well as within walking distance from Rapid Central Station.

– June 8 — Jazz in the Park
Located at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, this free concert series is a great chance to come together and enjoy the classic sounds of jazz.

Routes nearby: 7, 9, 50–please be advised of detours.

– June 9 — Live Music Tuesday at Bar Divani
Spice up your week early on with some live music.

Routes nearby: 1, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15

– June 10 — Egypt: Be Curious
Discover the culture of ancient Egypt at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Routes nearby: 7, 9, 12, 50

– June 11 — Lambert and Stamp
Aspiring filmmakers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert set out to search for a subject for their underground movie, leading them to discover, mentor, and manage the iconic band known as The Who and create rock ‘n’ roll history. This film is playing at the UICA.

Routes nearby: Silver Line, 1, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15

– June 12– Ghosts of Grand Rapids Tour
While it may not be Halloween, take some time to learn more about the spookier side of downtown Grand Rapids with this guided tour.

Routes nearby: Silver Line, 1, 4, 6, 14, 15

Where are we taking you this week?

Posted in News on

As The Summer Heat and Gas Prices Rise, Taking Public Transit Makes Sense

 Keep calm and save money.

Summer has arrived and temperatures and fuel prices are rising.  Gas prices are up 20 cents over last month, and up 32 cents over the past two months. While auto drivers are seeing their cost go up as temperatures rise, public transit commuters are staying cool and relaxed as they continue to see steady savings each month.

For instance this month, the annual savings for public transit riders is $9,524, according to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) May Transit Savings Report. Individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can also save, on average, more than $794 per 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 May 27, 2015 average national gas price ($2.74 per gallon- reported by AAA), and the national unreserved monthly parking rate numbers.

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 May 27, 2015 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate.*

   City  Monthly  Annual
1 New York  $1,348 $16,172
2 San Francisco  $1,235 $14,819
3 Boston  $1,189 $14,267
4 Chicago  $1,113 $13,359
5 Philadelphia  $1,112 $13,348
6 Seattle  $1,101 $13,208
7 Los Angeles  $1,089 $13,070
8 Honolulu  $1,072 $12,859
9 San Diego  $1,041 $12,496
10 Portland  $1,000 $11,998
11 Minneapolis $985 $11,821
12 Baltimore  $969 $11,627
13 Denver $967 $11,609
14 Washington, DC $947 $11,362
15 Pittsburgh $936  $11,237
16 Cleveland $928  $11,141
17 Las Vegas $908  $10,890
18 Atlanta $902  $10,825
19 Miami $901  $10,814
20 Dallas $888  $10,661


*Based on gasoline prices as reported by AAA on 5/27/15

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 2014 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 May 27, 2015 at $2.74 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


Posted in Places to Go on

Places to go: Ride Guide for May 30 – June 5

Mark your calendars for a variety of transit-friendly events taking place throughout Grand Rapids. From soccer to cooking demonstrations, the week ahead has a lot to offer:

– May 30 — Grand Rapids Football Club vs. AFC Ann Arbor
Grand Rapids Football Club plays its first ever home game as they host AFC Ann Arbor.

Routes nearby: 13, 14

– May 31 — Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Utica Comets
Calling all hockey fans! Don’t miss game five of the series at 5 p.m.

Routes nearby: Silver Line 1, 4, 6, 11,  13, 14, 15

– June 1 — GR Reads: Summer Reading All Grown Up
The Grand Rapids Public Library presents the sixth annual summer reading program designed for adults. Come discover ten interesting books selected by staff.

Routes nearby: This is taking place at all Grand Rapids Public Library locations. Please plan your trip with the help of RapidConnect.

– June 2 — Cooking Healthy, Eating Well: Sizzlin’ Salads & Cookouts
With so many fresh vegetables in season, it’s the perfect time of year to start eating healthy. This cooking demonstration hosted by Spectrum Health will kick off your summer on the right foot.

Routes nearby: 7, 9, 18

– June 3 — Fulton Street Farmers Market
Explore delicious food and goods from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.! There’s even a bus stop located directly at the market.

Routes nearby: 14, 19

– June 4 – June 7 — Broadway Grand Rapids presents: Kinky Boots
Make some time for music this week by seeing this Tony Award-winning production right here in Grand Rapids.

Routes nearby: 6, 11, 13, 50, 51

– June 5 — Festival of the Arts
This is the 45th year of honoring arts in West Michigan. Don’t miss dozens of food and artist booths stretching from Calder Plaza to Rosa Parks Circle.

Routes nearby: With its central location downtown, most routes can get you close to this event. Please be sure to check for detours.

Where are we taking you this week?

Posted in Places to Go on

Places to go: Ride Guide for May 23 – 29


Grand Rapids 131 Road Signage

What do you have planned for Memorial Day weekend and the following week? Here are a few events to check out in the week ahead. Don’t forget that The Rapid will not have service on Monday, May 25 in observance of the holiday.

– May 23 — Discovery of King Tut
Discover the treasures of King Tut’s tomb at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Routes nearby: 7, 9, 12 & 50 run near the museum, but please be mindful of construction detours. 

– May 24 — Art of The Lived Experiment
This exhibition was the centerpiece of the DisArt Festival and  features work of more than 35 internationally renowned disability artists, including sculptor Tony Heaton and performance artist Simon Raven.

Routes nearby: 1, 4, 6, 14, 15

– May 25 — Memorial Day Events
While The Rapid will not be in service in observance of Memorial Day, there’s a number of parades and ceremonies taking place throughout West Michigan.

– May 26 — Picnic in the Park
Enjoy a picnic in the park thanks to Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. There will be food trucks, drop-in sports, exercise classes, music and much more.

Routes nearby: Silver Line, 6,  9, 11 13, 19, 50

– May 27 — Mayor’s Ride 2015
Grand Rapids Mayor and Rapid Board member George Heartwell hosts a bicycle ride and a ribbon cutting for Monroe Avenue’s new protected bike lane along Riverside Park. Don’t forget that all of our buses feature bike racks, so you can ride the bus and bike too!

Routes nearby: 11

– May 28 — Rapid Delivery Improv
Take some time to this Thursday by enjoying some improv at Dog Story Theater.

Routes nearby: Silver Line, 4, 14, 15

– May 29 — 529 Day
In honor of Save For Education Day, visit John Ball Zoo for only $5.29 admission. 

Routes nearby: 12 & 50

Where are we taking you this week?

Posted in News on

The Health Benefits Of Riding The Bus

Enjoying the view on The Rapid.Improving your physical and mental health could be as easy as boarding the bus.

Breathing fresh air, driving safely, being physically active, and avoiding excessive stress are a few of the well-known aspects of a healthy lifestyle.  And using transit supports all of them. In fact,  The Victoria Policy Institute and The American Public Transportation Association recently explored the health impacts of transit. Here’s a look at the findings:

Public transportation users are more active.

Did you know that riding the bus provides you an opportunity for a more active lifestyle? Individuals who use public transportation get more than three times the amount of physical activity per day of those who don’t (approximately 19 minutes, rather than six minutes) by walking to stops and final destinations. The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends 22 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, per day (or 150 minutes per week). Getting active helps lower the risk for many serious diseases, such as heart and vascular diseases, strokes, diabetes, hypertensive diseases, osteoporosis, and even depression.

Buses are safer that individual vehicles.

Bus-related accidents have one-twentieth the passenger fatality rates of automobile travel. Car accidents are responsible for approximately 40,000 deaths (and many more injuries) per year, making them one of the largest causes of death for people aged 1-44. Traveling on public transit significantly diminishes this threat. Moreover, areas with high public transportation movement tend to have better overall security and reduced crime rates.

Riding public transportation reduces stress.

Public transportation improves access to education and employment, which in turn leads to better long-term economic opportunities. In fact, 12 percent of transit riders are traveling to schools and almost 80 percent of Rapid riders are going to work. It also provides access to social and recreational activities, allowing individuals to participate in events they otherwise couldn’t. But one benefit that’s often overlooked is the community cohesion developed through positive interactions between neighbors due to getting on board.

Buses cut down on pollution to keep air cleaner.

Pollution is estimated to cause as many deaths per year as traffic accidents. However, buses (especially newer diesel  and hybrid electric vehicles) produce less pollution than cars per passenger mile by utilizing advanced technologies and higher standards. In fact, from 1992-2009, buses using alternative fuels (such as natural gas) jumped from 2 to 30 percent and electric rail transit increased from 29 to 34 percent of passenger miles.

Riding public transportation keeps money in your pocket.

“Affordable transportation” generally means that an individual’s total travel expenses make up less than 20 percent of their household finances. Car payments, gas prices and parking can be a major budget drain, but public transportation lessens those financial burdens by alleviating the need to purchase and operate individual vehicles (saving a household around $9,394 annually) and helping riders avoid parking fees. This supports public health by leaving riders with more money for better living arrangements, healthy food, and medical services.

Public transportation provides access to essential needs later in life.

A survey of Americans aged 65 and older found that non-drivers take 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer shopping trips and restaurant visits, and 65 percent fewer trips for social, family, and religious activities than those using an individual vehicle. Public transportation is a way for these non-drivers (particularly seniors and persons with disabilities) to gain access to important services and activities that improve public health.

Changing your lifestyle is as easy as getting on board. You can find the full report here.

How has public transportation improved your well-being?

Posted in Places to Go on

Places To Go: Ride Guide For May 16 – 22, 2015

The Silver Line departing from a station.

We’re halfway through May and there are some great events taking place this weekend and coming week. Cut down on money and the stress of parking by getting on board with us.

– May 16 & 17 — Heritage Hill Weekend Tour of Homes

The 46th Annual Heritage Hill Tour of Homes features eight restored private homes and three historic public buildings. You can purchase tickets in advance or the day of the event.

Routes nearby: Plan your trip via the RapidConnect Trip Planner

– May 17 — Beethoven: The Man and his Music, Grand Rapids Ballet
This event takes place just steps away from Rapid Central Station. Beethoven is a world premiere ballet choreographed by Mario Radicovsky (Black Swan/White Swan, Romeo & Juliet, Bolero).

Routes nearby: Most routes will get you to this event.

– May 18 — Handle Bar Happy Hour at Brewery Vivant
Join the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition at Brewery Vivant from 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Walk, roll and ride over to celebrate the completion of the 4th annual Active Commute Week.

Routes nearby: Routes 4, 6, 14

– May 19 — Rivertown Artists’ Exhibit
Don’t miss this great art exhibit by the Rivertown Artists Guild. Each piece of art on display has been inspired by the Prairie Habitat located along the front lawn of the Dominican Sisters campus.

Routes nearby: 14

– May 20 — Brewed for Film
Visit Celebration! Cinema North to enjoy Founders Porter and The Graduate. This is a 21-and-up event.

Routes nearby: 15

– May 21 — Free Zumba Class at the 36th Street Lounge
Fit some fitness into your schedule this week with a complimentary Zumba class.

Routes nearby: 10, 16

– May 22 — Dark Side: The Light Show
The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium is presenting an original production featuring Pink Floyd’s iconic album with visuals.

Routes nearby: 7, 9, 12 & 50, but please be mindful of construction and detours.

Where are we taking you this week?


Posted in Rider Stories on

Real Rider – Candice N. Talks About The Sense Of Community On Board The Rapid

Are you a Real Rider of The Rapid? If you’re interested in being featured as a part of our series, we’d love to hear from you. Submit your story for consideration by clicking the link on the right side of this blog. 

Candice N. walks from her bus at Rapid Central Station.

“It’s nice being able to come onto a mini tribe of people. You’re all going to the same place and you’re all on the journey together.”

Rapid rider Candice N. wants those who have never tried public transportation here in the Greater Grand Rapids metro area to know that it’s not as hard as it looks to learn how to ride. For Candice, The Rapid is her main means of transportation. She gets on board due to the environmentally friendly nature of the bus, as well as its overall efficiency. Riding the bus gives her time to think and relax, while also experiencing an unmatched sense of community.

Learn more about Candice’s story as a rider, especially her favorite memories on board:

Where does The Rapid take you?

Posted in Places to Go on

Places To Go: Ride Guide For May 9 – 15, 2015

With warm weather permanently on the forecast, there’s even more of a reason to ride the bus to events in the Greater Grand Rapids metro area. This summer we will be posting weekly updates to keep you informed about some of the happenings taking place throughout our service area. Here are some events happening this coming week, May 9 – 15.

We’ll drive:

– May 9 — Grand Rapids Central Beer Tour
Let us be your designated driver this Saturday. The Grand Rapids Central Beer Tour includes a trip to Founders Brewing Company, The Mitten Brewing Company and Grand Rapids Brewing Company. Private transportation to and from these breweries is included in the tour price.

Routes nearby: Founders is located across the street from Central Station. 

– May 10 — Grand Rapids Vintage Street Market
Take Mom shopping from 10 a.m – 4 p.m. for Mother’s Day! You can even buy her a bus pass in advance.

Routes nearby: Silver Line 1, 2, 5 & located just a short walk away from Rapid Central Station.

– May 8-10 & 15 – 17 — Beethoven: The Man and his Music, Grand Rapids Ballet
This event takes place just steps away from Rapid Central Station. Beethoven is a world premiere ballet choreographed by Mario Radicovsky (Black Swan/White Swan, Romeo & Juliet, Bolero).  

Routes nearby: Most routes will get you to this event.

– May 7 – June 1 — Taking the Seas: The Rise of the American Aircraft Carrier
Don’t miss this interesting exhibit at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum!

Routes nearby: Routes 7, 9, 50

– May 11 – 15 — Active Commute Week
Walk, roll, and ride for the Active Commute Week Challenge to win awesome prizes.

Plan your trip via our Trip Planner to see if your commute is in our service area:

– May 11 — Salt of the Earth Photo Exhibit
Visit the UICA to check out this event at 3:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Routes nearby: Silver Line, 1, 4, 6, 13, 15.

– May 12 — Meanwhile Movie: Shaun of the Dead
Lighten your week up with this zombie comedy. Show your Rapid bus pass at the door to receive $1 off of admission.

Routes nearby: 5, 6, 19

– May 13 — Broadway Grand Rapids Presents: Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles
This multi-media spectacular takes place at the DeVos Performance Hall.

Routes nearby: Silver Line, 11, 13

– May 14 — Music In the Stacks: Saltbreaker 
Don’t miss a chance to enjoy free music at the library. 

Routes nearby: Silver Line, 4, 6, 14, 15

– May 15 — Evita at Aquinas College
Looking for a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience to kick off your weekend? This production will do the trick.

Routes nearby: 6, 14

Where are we taking you this week?

Posted in In The Community on

Calling All Active Commuters

Active Commute Week 2015

Dust off your sneakers, tune up your bikes, or purchase your Rapid bus pass because Active Commute Week is just around the corner. From May 11 – 15,  commuters of all ages, occupations and fitness levels are encouraged to use active transportation. The Active Commute Week Challenge allows participants and teams to earn points for using active transportation, including bicycling, walking, riding The Rapid, carpooling, running, long-boarding, or inline skating. The goal of Active Commute Week is to raise awareness about the health, economic and environmental benefits of active travel. During the 2014 Active Commute Week Challenge, more than 1,500 active commute trips were logged and 23 businesses and universities (including Steelcase, Grand Valley State University, Calvin College and more) competed. Organizers anticipate substantial growth for this year’s event. Participants may register and log daily trips through The Rapid’s user-friendly online West Michigan Rideshare program. Prizes will be awarded throughout the week with special recognition given to those who log the most trips and those who log the most miles.

“This year we’re excited to announce the addition of Bike Trains; small groups of people cycling together along a route that takes them to work, school or other destinations” said GGRBC Executive Director Tom Tilma. “It’s easier to form and stick to healthy habits that Active Commute Week encourages when you have the support of like-minded people.”

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell once again will ride his bicycle from his home to work on Friday, May 15. This will represent the fifth consecutive year in which Mayor Heartwell has participated in National Bike to Work Day.

Pit Stop

Key Dates and Events:

MONDAY-FRIDAY, MAY 11-15 – Active Commute Week Challenge: Individuals and employers may track active trips using The Rapid’s West Michigan Rideshare program. Daily drawings feature prizes from local businesses. Details – sponsors, workshops, resources for new riders and registration – available at

FRIDAY, MAY 15 – Bike to Work Day Pit Stops: Active commuters are invited to visit local Pit Stops from 7 – 9am where they can enjoy in free refreshments and giveaways. There are numerous Pit Stops across the metro area – check the Pit Stop map to find one near your route.

FRIDAY, MAY 15 – Bike to Work Day Bicycle Trains: Experienced cyclists will lead Bike Trains to common destinations throughout Grand Rapids. Riders of all experience levels are encouraged to join a train at various rendezvous points – including Pit Stops, bus stops and other well-known points of interest. More information can be found

MONDAY, MAY 18 – Handlebar Happy Hour: Presenting Sponsor Brewery Vivant (925 Cherry St. SE) will host a social event from 4:30 to 7:30pm to wrap-up Active Commute Week 2015. The event is free and open to the public and will feature door prizes and the presentation of the Active Commute Week Challenge awards. Do you plan to walk, roll, and ride for Active Commute Week?

Posted in CEO Insight on

CEO Insight: Meeting The Next Generation Of Public Transit Riders

With more than 10.8 billion passenger trips taken on public transportation nationally in 2014, it’s clear that riding public transit has become a second nature for a vast majority of American citizens. One of the best parts of my job as CEO of The Rapid is getting to know the people getting on board public transportation. Although it’s not every day that I get to talk to the next generation of public transit riders: the children in our community. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to do just this at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Mrs. Powell’s first grade class.

Father Mark Przybysz invited me to attend the VIP Mass with other leaders in the community and meet with children at the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School. In Mrs. Powell’s classroom I was offered a special seat at the front of the room. The children gathered around to learn more about me and what I do for a living. Mrs. Powell shared some details about The Rapid and what I do as the CEO.

Father Mark started our conversation by asking, “When you were a child, did you think you were going to become the CEO of a public transportation system?” I explained that as a child, I always thought I would grow up to be a diplomat.

Learning more about The Rapid led a student to ask if our fixed route buses are purple and green. While we do not have purple buses, we do have several that are green. I explained that the green-colored buses in our fleet signified that they were hybrid-electric buses. This means that they are powered by both diesel fuel and electricity through the charge of their batteries. The children were intrigued and then suggested we begin painting some of our buses purple in our fleet.

The students were also interested in learning some basics about buses including how many people can fit on a bus, as well as the size of a bus and things on board. These are great questions, and I often receive them from adults, as well.

The conversation began to shift after the students learned that I grew up in the highlands of Ethiopia. Since the class was recently studying the animals of Africa, I had a chance to quiz the students on their knowledge. From there we discussed other countries and their languages. The students are learning Spanish and wanted to know what other languages I knew. I am Hungarian so I taught them the word for bus, which led me to share that in Europe they are called an autobus. The students began practicing saying “autobus”. I loved their enthusiasm to learn.

As the topic moved to public transportation in other countries, I told them about the differences of what our country has to offer in comparison to others. For instance, people often ride streetcars in other countries. We do not currently these here in the Grand Rapids area, but we used to. 

It was pleasure to be able to speak to the next generation of public transit riders at St. Anthony. There’s something special about public transportation for children. Unlike cars, I believe it gives them a certain freedom. Instead of being strapped into a seat, they have the opportunity to sway as a bus, subway or cable car moves along it’s route. There’s also the feeling of adventure when you’re on board public transportation. Riding a bus feels very exploratory, even for adults.

The most important part of me meeting these students was letting them know that buses and other public transit options are for everyone.

– Peter Varga
CEO of The Rapid

Do you ride the bus with your children?