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The Rapid’s 2018 Year in Review

2018 Year in Review

What a year we’ve had. Looking back, we’ve had a number of high notes in 2018. We welcome a new CEO, launched our new fare payment system, partnered with the City of Grand Rapids and Spectrum Health to relaunch Route 19, add more CNG vehicles to our fleet and so much more.

Thank you to everyone who helped make 2018 a great year. We can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.

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$696,000 federal grant to help spur economic development along The Rapid’s Silver Line route

Silver Line in the winter at Rapid Central Station

The Rapid has received a $696,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of a new $945,000 effort to plan for development along the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit line, focusing on the Division Avenue corridor from Wealthy to 60th streets.

The FTA grant, combined with a new $174,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation and $25,000 in grants from each Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming, is funding a $945,000 study that will identify strategies to spur economic development along the Silver Line route, which opened in 2014 and connects the three communities.

“We recognize that in Greater Grand Rapids, business grows where The Rapid goes,” said Andrew Johnson, president and CEO of The Rapid. “These grants reflect the understanding that quality, reliable public transportation boosts property values near transit corridors, encourages real estate and economic development, promotes diverse and inclusive communities, and helps make the region stronger and more competitive.”

The Silver Line is Michigan’s first bus rapid transit route, a 9.6-mile system stretching north-south along the Division Avenue corridor. It runs into the core of Grand Rapids, where about $2 billion in investments has occurred in the city’s Medical Mile. The Division Avenue corridor at the southern end of the line has the highest total population, greatest density and most transit-dependent residents compared with other routes, offering significant potential development opportunities.

Average weekday ridership along the corridor has increased by 37 percent since the Silver Line’s launch, including a 34 percent increase in Saturday ridership, a 45 percent increase in Sunday ridership and a total annual ridership increase of 39 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the most recent data available.

“We look forward to continuing to partner with leaders of The Rapid and from each of our respective neighboring communities,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington. “Our goal is to develop a shared vision that promotes economic vibrancy along the Silver Line route and builds an even stronger transportation network that includes bus, bicycle and pedestrian connections and alternative transportation options.”

Key deliverables from the FTA grant include:

  • — Assessing the current market conditions on the corridor, including housing and employment.
  • — Identifying barriers and opportunities for driving economic development along the corridor, prioritizing equitable development.
  • — Formulating planning policies, educational tools and initiatives that coordinate with economic development strategies along the corridor.

“We welcome the planning assistance of the FTA and look forward to recommendations that could improve the economic growth and redevelopment of the corridor that links our communities,” said Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley.

Business, civic and local government leaders agree attracting talent to Greater Grand Rapids is a critical element to the region’s future economic success and that easy access to public transit is an important quality-of-life consideration, especially among millennials.

“We are grateful for the FTA’s confidence in our communities as we seek to leverage the assets that are inherent in the Division Avenue corridor,” said Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll. “We are excited to build upon the great work that has already taken place, and we look forward to identifying strategies that will serve to benefit our residents and businesses.”

The Rapid grant for the Silver Line is among a total of $16.6 million awarded to 20 organizations around the country that will support comprehensive planning projects to improve access to public transportation. The funds are made available through FTA’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning, which assists communities that are developing new or expanded mass transit systems.

“Convenient and safe access to public transportation can improve mobility,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.

The Pilot Program for TOD Planning provides funding to project sponsors that will integrate land use and transportation planning efforts with eligible transit projects. The grants fund comprehensive planning to support transit ridership, multimodal connectivity and mixed-use development near transit stations. In fiscal year 2018, FTA has awarded more than $15 billion in funding through both formula and competitive grant programs to support public transportation.

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The Rapid’s 2018 Holiday Service

The Rapid's Holiday Service Schedule

We wish you a joyous holiday season! Here is our service schedule for the upcoming holidays:

CHRISTMAS EVE, MONDAY, DECEMBER 24

Radial service from Central Station

  • — The 5:45 pm and 6:15 pm lineups will be the last to depart Central Station;
  • — The 5:45 pm lineup (Routes 5, 6, 9 and 16) will operate their entire trip, terminating service when they arrive at Central Station at 7:05 pm (route 5 – 735P);
  • — The longer routes at the 6:15 pm lineup (Routes 1, 2, 4, 8, and 15) will deadhead back to the garage at the conclusion of their outbound trip;
  • — The shorter routes at the 6:15 pm lineup (Routes 3, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18) will operate their entire trip, terminating service when they arrive back at Central Station between 7:05 – 7:10 pm;
  • — The last trip on Route 17 will depart Woodland Mall 6:53 pm, terminating at Woodland Mall at 7:27 pm.
  • –The last trip on the Silver Line will depart Central Station at 6:30 pm. When it reaches the end of the line at 60th Street, it will deadhead back to the garage. The Silver Line bus that departs Central Station at 6:00 pm will operate its entire trip, terminating at Central Station at 7:10 pm.

University Service

  • — Route 50 (Campus Connector) will not be operating at all from December 22, 2018 through January 1, 2019;
  • — Route 60 (GRCC Sneden Shuttle) will not be in operation from December 17, 2018 through January 6, 2019;
  • — Route 100 (Ferris State) will not be in operation from December 17, 2018 through January 8, 2019;

Crosstown Service

  • — Route 19 will operate eastbound trips until terminating at 522 Plymouth (Spectrum parking lot) at 748P. The last westbound trip will terminate at Second / Stocking at 750P;
  • — Route 24 will operate eastbound trips until terminating at Woodland Mall at 6:42 pm. The last westbound trip will terminate at the Grandville Library at 6:48 pm;
  • — Route 28 will operate eastbound trips until terminating at Woodland Mall at 7:03 pm. The last westbound trip will terminate at 28th/Clyde Park at 7:17 pm;
  • — Route 44 will operate eastbound trips until terminating at Woodland Mall at 7:21 pm. The last westbound trip will terminate at the Rivertown Walmart at 7:03 pm;

DASH Service

  • — The last trip on DASH West will depart Area 9 on Seward at 7:30 pm until terminating at Area 9 at 7:51 pm.
  • — The last trip southbound on DASH North will depart Ionia / Leonard at 7:34 pm until terminating at the Downtown Market at 7:47 pm.
  • –The last northbound trip on DASH North will depart the Downtown Market at 7:34P until terminating at Ionia / Leonard at 7:47 pm.

CHRISTMAS DAY, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25

No buses will be in operation.

NEW YEAR’S EVE, MONDAY, DECEMBER 31

Again, GVSU Route 50 will not be in operation. All other routes will operate their normal schedules.

NEW YEAR’S DAY, TUESDAY, JANUARY 1

No buses will be in operation.

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The Rapid’s Commuter Gift Guide

commuter-gift-guide-2018-1

Are you looking for creative gifts for the Grand Rapids commuter in your life? We’ve got you covered. Here are our top 10 transit-friendly gift ideas:

1. Schuler’s Gift Card

Schulers Books

A good book and some even better tunes are a commuting mainstay. A Schuler Books & Music gift card gives your favorite commuter access to books, music, unique gift items and a full-service gourmet cafe. The best part about this gift is that it allows you to support an independent, locally-owned business in the community.

2. Portable Charger

Black Portable Charger

When you’re on the go, you never want to be stuck without a charged battery. A compact portable charger is the perfect accessory for any travel bag.

3. Wave Card

Wave Card

Give the gift of transit this holiday season. If the commuter in your life takes the bus, consider purchasing them a Wave card and loading funds onto it. If they already have a Wave card, offer to load up their card as a gift.

4. Travel Umbrella

Commuter Travel Umbrella

Getting stuck in the rain can ruin a commute. Travel umbrellas are a necessity for ensuring that weather won’t get in the way of your day. This one, in particular, is conveniently compact.

5. Non-Woven Grocery Tote from Clothing Matters

Grocery Tote

A reusable tote bag is truly a great gift for anyone. However, they’re particularly handy for those frequently on the go. We love the Clothing Matters brand tote bag because it’s made of eco-conscious polypropylene. Clothing Matters has a vibrant retail location at 141 Diamond Ave

6. Gloves from West Michigan Bike and Fitness

Gloves

Michigan’s cold weather can do a number on your hands. Keep your favorite commuter cozy (and safe) in cold weather with a pair of Bontrager’s RXL Thermal Gloves from West Michigan Bike and Fitness. They are moisture wicking and provide an excellent grip.

7. Safety Reflectors

Red LED Safety Reflector

Visibility is crucial to the safety of any commuter. LED safety reflectors are a lightweight and versatile safety accessory that can easily fit on a wrist, ankle, backpack or arm.

8. Sunglasses

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an excellent gift for the stylish commuter in your life. These polarized sunglasses filter out sunlight reflected flare to protect the eyes from long-term damage of harmful UVA and UVB rays.

9. Earmuff Headphones

Black earmuff Headphones

Bluetooth, rechargeable earmuffs will keep ears warm and make sure that being comfortable doesn’t sacrifice access to good tunes or podcasts.

10. Boots

Black Waterproof Rain Boots

Waterproof boots are an absolute necessity in Michigan. Give the gift of dry feet with a pair of waterproof boots!

11. Commuter Backpack

Backpack

If you’re looking to splurge on a loved one, consider a utilitarian commuter backpack. Whether walking, biking or riding the bus, a wearable bag is essential to smart travel. We love this one from REI.

12. New York Times Crossword Puzzle Subscription

Crossword

The New York Times Crossword Puzzle is the ultimate gift for any commuter. For just $40, you can give your favorite person the gift of challenging puzzles for a whole year. This subscription even enables the user to play across any of their devices.

Happy Holidays!

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The Rapid and Kent District Library Launch Books on the Bus Program

Books on the Bus Little Free Library

The Rapid is pleased to partner with Kent District Library to offer the Books on the Bus program on buses traveling throughout the Greater Grand Rapids area. The program provides a collection of books for all ages that are conveniently placed on buses for riders to enjoy. With a book selection that will rotate consistently, riders will always have new books available.

The average bus rider commutes 25 minutes each day. This provides the perfect opportunity to do some reading or to pick up a book to enjoy later.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to make riding The Rapid an even more enjoyable experience,” said The Rapid’s CEO Andrew Johnson. “We are proud to partner with KDL to make connecting to reading even more convenient.”

Books are currently housed on 13 Rapid buses, with plans to increase that number to 16. These buses are used on different routes every day, which offers riders a chance to access books throughout The Rapid’s service area. The collection includes gently used books, many which are new and bestsellers.

Kent District Library is also pleased to offer a Little Free Library in Rapid Central Station. The structure will house around 50 books, including youth, teen and adult fiction and nonfiction materials. People are encouraged to take a book or leave a book.

“This is just another exciting way we are making books accessible to people wherever they might be,” said Sara Proano, manager of community engagement for KDL.

Forest Hills Transition Center is partnering with KDL to provide the volunteers to re-stock the shelves at The Rapid for the Books on the Bus project.

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Give the Gift of Transit This Holiday Season

Gift The Gift of Transit

Are you still in search of the perfect gift for everyone on your list? We have something that your co-workers, friends and family members will love. We’ve got an idea that will move you!

Transit is the gift that keeps on giving. So why not spread the love?

The Rapid offers a number of different fare types and purchase options to best meet your needs when using the fixed-route system or GO!Bus. Consider gifting a pre-loaded Wave card to those you love. You can purchase your cards online at http://wave.ridetherapid.org or in-person at Rapid Central Station on weekdays between 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

WAVE CARDS

  • — Adult Card – Just add funds and gift!
  • — 10-Ride Card – Load with $13.50 and you’ve just covered 10 rides for someone you love.

The gift of transit comes with numerous benefits. Riding The Rapid reduces congestion and improves air quality, creates economic vitality for our region, makes our community a better place to live, work and play — and it helps save you money. Check out our helpful fuel savings calculator to find out just how much you can save riding transit.

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Jingle All The Way to Events in December 2018

Ride The Rapid to Events in December 2018

With December comes chilly weather and holiday cheer. Don’t let this month of festivities go to waste. Catch a ride on The Rapid to one of these December events.

LIGHT UP DOWNTOWN

Create a new tradition this year. The Gerald R. Ford Museum is hosting the Light Up Downtown event. Watch as Downtown Grand Rapids is illuminated with lights and holiday cheer. The event is on Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. and features a variety of free activities and fun for the whole family. Get more details to plan your trip here.

INDIE FLEA MARKET

Looking for a unique gift this season? You’ll find just what you’re searching for at this eclectic pop-up shop. Located at the Wealthy Street Theatre, the event is on Dec. 1 and goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Want to RSVP? Click here for the official event page.

HOLIDAY ARTISTS MARKET

Have you ever been to the Steelcase Town Hall? Now is the perfect time! They are hosting the annual Holiday Artists Market. Find a great gift for that special someone on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

UPTOWN SHOP HOP

One of the most popular events is back again! You can visit the best of Uptown shops, boutiques and restaurants during this evening of fun! This is the perfect transit-friendly event. Mark your calendar for Dec. 6 from 4 – 10 p.m. Need more details? Head to the official Facebook event here.

THE NUTCRACKER BALLET

Dance into the season of giving with an evening of pure magic. The Grand Rapids Ballet presents The Nutcracker at DeVos Performance Hall with live music from Grand Rapids Symphony. This is a holiday classic you don’t want to miss. You can find full dates and tickets here.

Kentwood TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY & HOLIDAY LIGHT PARADE

Is there anything more magical than a snowy night illuminated by holiday lights? You can enjoy the annual tree lighting ceremony hosted at the Kentwood Library. The event also includes a holiday light parade (awesome, right?) Show up on Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. Click here for more details on their event page.

Photos with Santa

Find out if you’re on Santa’s naughty or nice list this year. Catch a ride to Woodland Mall every day through Dec. 24 to meet Santa, and most importantly, get your photo taken! The event goes from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and you can register here.

VISITS WITH SANTA AT DOWNTOWN MARKET

The Downtown Market is hosting visits from Mr. Claus on Dec. 14. You can take your own photographs, and receive a candy treat. The best part? This event is completely free! Just show up and enjoy. You can find more information here.

LIGHT THE NIGHT

The GRAM is hosting a unique event this year on Dec. 20 from 5 – 9 p.m. Take one of the exclusive flashlight tours and see the art in a completely new way! For more information go to their site here.

HOLIDAY CLASSICS ORGAN CONCERT SERIES

Tis’ the season for family-friendly fun. Enjoy holiday classics from the famous organist Lance Luce. Head over to the Grand Rapids Public Museum to attend the show. You can catch the performances at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21 and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22. Get tickets here.

Ride The Rapid for a convenient way to get to these events. Plan your trip here.

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What Are You Thankful For?

Happy Thanksgiving from The Rapid

In honor of Thanksgiving, we wanted to know what riders of The Rapid were thankful for this year! As always, we’re grateful to be able to get you where you need to go every day. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

 

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Meet The Rapid’s Newest GILLIG CNG Bus

The Rapid's CNG Bus

Few things compare to the look, feel andyes, we’re going to say itthe smell of a new bus. Fortunately fellow bus admirers and us, we have 20 brand-new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses arriving by the end of 2019. In fact, our first new addition arrived this month.

Here at The Rapid, we’ve been working on transitioning our fleet to CNG vehicles. In 2017, we kicked off the transition with an addition of 33 alternative fuel vehicles, including 28 on The Rapid’s regular fixed routes and five for the City of Grand Rapids’ DASH shuttle service operating in Downtown Grand Rapids by The Rapid. The Rapid’s 150-vehicle fleet to include 92 CNG buses by 2021, with plans for full fleet transition in 2028. This will make The Rapid the owner of Michigan’s largest system of natural gas-powered buses!

Our CNG buses are GILLIG low-floor models. They are made at the GILLIG factory in Livermore, CA and make the cross-country journey to Rapid Operations Center to join our fleet. Our first bus of Fiscal Year 2019 arrived on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018. This is vehicle #1129.

Here’s what we love about this alternative fuel:

  • — It reduces The Rapid’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1 million metric tons over the use of diesel. CNG buses produce up to 20-30 percent fewer emissions than diesel-powered buses.
  • — Poses no threat to land or water if a spill occurs as CNG is nontoxic.
  • — Generates a combined total savings of $4.5 million because the cost of CNG is projected to remain about 60 percent less than diesel.
  • — Ensures access to an American-made fuel source with an abundant 100-year supply, diminishing Greater Grand Rapids’ reliance on foreign oil.

Bus 1129 will be hitting the road to pick you up in the near future! Check out our video to learn more about our transition to CNG buses and meet our newest bus.

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Thank You, Veterans

The You Veterans

At The Rapid, we hold veterans in the highest regard. We’re proud to honor veterans today and every day. 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 employees who have previously and continue to serve our country. We also want to thank all of the veterans in our community for their service.