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Motivational Monday: The Salvation Army

Volunteer at Salvation Army

We partner with FOX 17 to bring you inspiring stories of organizations doing amazing work in West Michigan.

The Salvation Army may be an international organization, but they’re making a big impact locally. Throughout West Michigan, The Salvation Army provides a variety of services for individuals and families throughout West Michigan. Available services include food pantries, assistance with paying electric or gas bills, providing housing assistance, and so much more. Essentially, to help people get back on their feet.

The Rapid is a big part of ensuring individuals can get to and from The Salvation Army, as well as providing employees with reliable transportation.

For more information and to learn more about volunteer opportunities in the area, visit sawmni.org or call (616)-459-3433.

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Enjoy a Transit-Friendly Valentine’s Day

Transit-Friendly Valentine's Day

Love is in the air! Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day yet?

Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate with your special someone. As always, we’re dishing out destinations and tips for a romantic, transit-friendly rendezvous. Let us do the driving so you can spend time paying attention to your sweetheart instead of the road.

Here are a few noteworthy Valentine’s Day date ideas that are both budget-friendly and public transit accessible:

Plan a Staycation

Many local hotels are featuring wallet-friendly hotel packages to help you escape your everyday life for a bit of a romantic getaway. Pull out all of the stops by surprising your sweetheart with one of these hotel stay packages:

Go Outside

Bundle up and take your Valentine’s Day excursion outside with one of the many World of Winter Festival events! Ride The Rapid to Downtown Grand Rapids for a romantic ice skating date at Rosa Parks Circle. On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, ice skating will be buy-one-get-one-free. Even better, you and your special someone can get a free professional photo taken in front of the community sculpture! View all of the World of Winter Festival events here.
If you’re looking for a bit more rustic, transit-friendly destination, don’t miss a chance to snowshoe with your sweetie at Blandford Nature Center! This event features an easy, candlelit hike for all experience levels. Enjoy a glass of wine from a local winery around a fire after!

Dine Out

If you’re planning on a special dining out, make sure you get your reservations in as soon as possible. There are so many wonderful restaurants in and around Grand Rapids If you’re looking for a special menu for you and your sweetheart, consider visiting six.one.six at the JW Marriott Hotel is featuring Valentine’s Day Dinner for two with delicious options. Another great option is the Valentine’s Week Celebration at The B.O.B.! There will be a specially crafted dinner for two in any of the amazing B.O.B. restaurants!
Plan your trip now by visiting ridetherapid.org!

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River House Residents Ride the Silver Line

River House Residents at Beltline Bar

Living in Downtown Grand Rapids provides residents with access to a variety of covetable amenities such being just steps away from dining, culture and public transportation.

Recently, a group of residents from River House at Bridgewater Place, a trademark of the Grand Rapids city skyline, planned a fun dinner trip and used The Rapid to make travel easy, communal and fun! Their goal was to get to dinner at the Beltline Bar at 28th Street and Division. This happened to be the perfect destination for using the Siler Line! For the low cost of $1.75 each way, this not only saved them the time and money, it also added a bit of adventure to the trip. River House Residents Waiting at the Silver Line Station

The residents boarded a short walk from their building at the northbound DeVos Place Station and took the Silver Line to the 28th Street Station. Fortunately, Beltline Bar is just steps away from the station! This made for a quick walk on a cold night. After they were finished dining, the residents took the Silver Line back and once deboarded at the Devos Place Station. The residents agreed that this wouldn’t be their last trip together using transit to access another destination!

If you’re looking for an easy way to travel with friends to and from an event, consider giving The Rapid a try! It’s also a smart option if you’re planning to have a few drinks.

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February Events You’ll Love

February Transit Friendly Events

Movies, shopping and boat and auto shows! Explore Grand Rapids and beyond this month by riding The Rapid to get to a wide variety of family-friendly, low-cost or free events.

Michigan International Auto Show at DeVos Place

Visit DeVos Place to discover what drives you! From Feb. 1 – 4, car manufacturers from around the world will bring their finest traveling displays with new vehicles – including sedans, vans, SUV’s, trucks, hybrids and sports cars. Not only is the Michigan International Auto Show a great place to shop and compare options for everyday vehicles, it is also the first opportunity for West Michigan residents to see many of the most recently released or soon-to-be-released models. This event is presented by the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association. Admission is $12 for adults, $5 for children 6-14 and free for children 5 and under. Purchase your tickets here.

Routes SL, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

February Indie Flea Grand Rapids at Wealthy Theatre

Beat the cold and tackle some shopping! Visit the historic Wealthy Theatre on the first of every month. On Feb. 2, shop a wide variety of local vendors with everything from vintage clothing to self-care products. Some vendors to check out include Wild Pine Remedies, Solstice Handmade and Silver Moon Soaps. Admission is free!

Ride Route 5 or 6 to get there.

Ethnic Heritage Festival at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Visit the Grand Rapids Public Museum on Feb. 3 for the annual Ethnic Heritage Festival. This is a day-long celebration of music, dance, crafts and food representing the various ethnic groups that call West Michigan home. The City of Grand Rapids and the surrounding region have a long-standing history of diversity and various cultural traditions dating back from early explorers and fur traders, to modern day cultural rituals from new residents of the region.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and features a variety of organizations, performances, beer tastings and presentations. The Museum Café will feature ethnic food selections and a special International Beer Tasting. Event activities are included with general admission to the Museum.

Routes 7, 9, 12 and 50 can get you near the Museum.

55th Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour at Wealthy Theatre

On Feb. 8, visit Wealthy Theatre for a cinematic experience. The Ann Arbor Film Festival has been showcasing independent and experimental films since its launch in 1964. This year, Grand Rapids Public Library has teamed up with CinemaLab and the Wealthy Theatre to bring the 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival to Grand Rapids. These interesting and often challenging short films span many genres: experimental, documentary, animation, narrative and hybrids. A short discussion will follow the program. Admission is free and space is limited. Viewer discretion is advised.

Ride Route 5 or 6 to get there.

Winter Michigan Animals at Blandford Nature Center

Not all Michigan animals are sleeping away the winter, ride with us to Blandford Nature Center to discover the animals who stay active in the winter wonderland. Get an up-close look at Blandford’s resident wildlife on Feb, 10 from 2-3 p.m. This program is $3 for Blandford members and $6 for non-members with $5 snowshoe rental fee. Register here.

Ride Route 7 to visit Blandford Nature Center.

World of Winter Festival in Downtown Grand Rapids

The World of Winter Festival will be taking over Downtown Grand Rapids from Feb. 9 – 16! Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and partners will be hosting a full slate of winter activities including the Human Hungry, Hungry Hippos Tournament, Snow Globe Experience, Love on ICE and Relax at Rosa on ICE.

The 8-day festival is designed to take advantage of Michigan’s cold climate, provide fun ways for people to get outside and enjoy the season and make Grand Rapids a better winter city, which makes Grand Rapids a better year-round city. World of Winter comprises of a variety of free- and low-cost events that feature a wide variety of activities for both families and adults. View the full activity list here.

Plan your trip using The Rapid’s Trip Planner tool.

Grand Rapids Boat Show at DeVos Place

The Grand Rapids Boat Show will be featuring their broadest array of power boats ever…5 acres of them, especially for the Great Lakes! The array of motor yachts, cruisers, runabouts, fishing boats, and ski and wakeboard inboards is exceptional. This is your chance to board new boats and check them out! Admission for adults is $10, $4 for children 6-14. Feb 14-18. Purchase tickets here.

Routes SL, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

Taste of Soul Sunday at Grand Rapids Public Library

Celebrate African American history and culture at Taste of Soul Sunday at the downtown Grand Rapids Public Library location on Sunday, Feb. 18. Listen, learn, eat, create, and preserve. Activities include a poetry workshop and crafts for kids. Enjoy food from IRIE Kitchen, Big Ed’s BBQ, Mosbyspopcorn and NoLos Soul!

The Silver Line and Routes 4, 6, 14 and 15 can get you there.

Cool Brews. Hot Eats.

Grand Rapids is Beer City, USA and that’s due in large part to our nearly 80 breweries within 60 minutes of downtown Grand Rapids – and new ones are popping up all the time! We also pride ourselves on being a true foodie destination and were recently named the Best Food City in Michigan.

During Cool Brews Hot Eats, experience the best of both worlds with food and beer pairing specials at many participating restaurant locations. Offered for an entire month (Feb. 15-March 15), there is no better time to enjoy food and beer! Participating locations and menus will be announced in early February.

Plan your trip using The Rapid’s Trip Planner tool.

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Motivational Monday: Feeding America West Michigan

Feeding American West Michigan Mobile Food Bank

Get motivated this Monday by learning about an organization doing good within our community! We’ve teamed up with FOX 17 Morning Mix to bring you bi-weekly segments to get you motivated and inspired.

Did you know that hunger threatens one in eight of your neighbors? Feeding America West Michigan exists to ensure safe food is available to the hungry in our community. In 2016, they distributed a record 29.1 million pounds of food, the equivalent of 24 million meals.

This food comes from hundreds of farmers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers that have edible food they can’t sell because of overruns, order errors, misprints, and other unexpected occurrences. Feeding American West Michigan distributes reclaimed food to pantries, shelters, after-school programs, and other anti-hunger agencies in 40 Michigan counties.

More than 900 agencies use Feeding America West Michigan to provide food to an estimated 492,100 people every year. We also send food directly to people in need through our local Mobile Food Pantry Program.

Thanks to places like Feeding America West Michigan its amazing donors and volunteers, that burden is eased. Plus, the burden of getting to and from mobile food site is lessened thanks to the Rapid.

Feeding America West Michigan’s headquarters is located at 864 West River Center Drive. To learn more about volunteering and donating opportunities, call (616)-784-3250 or visit feedwm.org.

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Beat Rising Gas Prices With These Savvy Commuting Tips

Passenger waiting for the bus in downtown Grand Rapids.

Calling all car commuters! Gas prices are on the rise.

In a recent gas price forecast from GasBuddy.com, it’s predicted that U.S. households will spend more on gas than they did previously in 2017. GasBuddy expects prices at the pump nationwide to average out to about $2.57 per gallon of regular gas and $2.70 per gallon of diesel throughout the year. Analysts anticipate regular gas prices to peak in May, with most gas stations charging $2.57 to $2.88 per gallon.

Do you know exactly how much your commute is costing you? Use the handy West Michigan Rideshare Commute Cost Calculator to calculate just how much your miles, gas, maintenance and other aspects of your drive are really ringing up to.

If you’re hoping to stick to your budget this year, cutting down on how often you’re filling up your gas tank can be one way to stay in check. One of the best ways to combat car costs is by using alternative modes of transportation whenever possible.

Here are a few ways to save on gas in the year to come:

Walk and Bike Whenever Possible

Did you know that Americans spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work? It is no secret that car commutes can not only be hard on your wallet but also straining on your mental and physical health. If your ability allows you, one way to ensure you’re utilizing your car less is by walking and biking to as many destinations as possible. While many of you may not live within a reasonable walking distance from your workplace, there’s a chance that many places you visit really are walkable. Consider choosing a destination and using the walking feature on Google Maps to see how long it would take you to walk there.

If you have a bike, dust it off and make a point to ride it more this year. You may not be brave enough to make use of it in the winter—a big salute winter bike commuters—but it doesn’t hurt to start planning for warmer weather. Grand Rapids metro area has made a significant investment in infrastructure such as bicycle lanes so you can ride even more safely to get where you need to go! Many of your favorite places likely have bike parking, too. Consider walking or rolling to the library, your favorite restaurant, coffee shop or local shop.  Don’t forget your helmet!

Ride the Bus More

According to the January 2018 Transit Savings Report by the American Public Transportation Association, taking public transportation and living with one less car can save an average of $825 per month. Using The Rapid as your main mode of transportation may not be possible for everyone but even if you’re riding a few times a week, you’re still going to be saving money in the long run. Using transit is also a way to incorporate more walking into your travel and get a little bit more personal time to enjoy a podcast or book instead of keeping your eyes on the road.

Use The Rapid’s Trip Planner tool (powered by Google Maps) to see what destinations you can ride the bus to and what bus stops are located near your home, workplace and other destinations you regularly visit.

Commute Smarter with Rideshare

If walking, biking or busing just aren’t possible for getting to your place of employment, West Michigan Rideshare may be perfect for you. Commuting alone can be a drag. This program through The Rapid offers Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties solutions for connecting riders trying to find a better way to manage their commutes as well as the business community seeking solutions to improve travel for employees.

Whether this means joining a vanpool with people who have similar commuting patterns as you or finding someone to carpool with via the Online Rideshare Matching database, our ridesharing service could help you save money on gas and do the environment a favor in the process!

Commute smarter and savvier in 2018 with these tips!

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Motivational Mondays: New Destiny Pathways

New Destiny Pathways

In Grand Rapids, New Destiny Pathways is filling the gap for young women that have aged out of foster care. This organization provides necessary housing, life skills training and so much more to young women in need throughout the community.

Some children have bounced around in foster care their entire life. When they age out of the foster care system or residential services, there’s often the chance that these young adults may experience homelessness and joblessness. The wonderful women of New Destiny Pathways take young women who fall under this criteria and provide them with what they need to succeed.

If you’re seeking ways to get involved with New Desinty Pathways, they’re always in need of donations, mentors and have many opportunities for potential board members.

For more information on their services, visit their Facebook page.

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Laker Line Update: Awaiting Federal Funding

Laker Line Fulton Station

The Rapid’s second bus rapid transit line is in the hands of a federal agency. On Tuesday, January 8, 2018, The Grand Rapids Press reported shared an update on the Laker Line.

Funding for the 13-mile-long Laker Line was authorized in President Barack Obama’s last budget for fiscal 2017 – but The Rapid has yet to see any of the $56.4 million it was promised.

“We’re all scratching our heads,” said Michael Bulthuis, spokesman for The Rapid.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, recently asked the head of the Federal Transit Administration about the grant and has not yet received a response.

“Unfortunately, there has been a bureaucratic logjam that has delayed the money from being released,” said Brian Patrick, Huizenga’s communications director, noting that Huizenga believes the project ultimately will be funded.

The $70.5 million Laker Line, once built, will run 16 articulated buses from Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus along Lake Michigan Drive into Grand Rapids, stopping at the Pew Campus and ending at GVSU’s facility on the Medical Mile.

The bus rapid transit line will replace The Rapid’s existing Route 50. The project was formally introduced in 2013 as The Rapid launched its first bus rapid transit line, the Silver Line.

The Rapid applied for $56.8 million in funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program in August 2017 but has not heard back about the status. Bulthuis said formal approval of the grant application is needed before the money can be awarded.

In a letter dated Dec. 14, Huizenga asked K. Jane Williams, the acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, for a status update on the Laker Line grant.

“As you know, the Laker Line timetable has been carefully orchestrated in an effort to complete the project on schedule and within the budget,” Huizenga wrote. “Further delay in the receipt of the grant will have a negative chain reaction impacting schedule, cost, and development.”

Huizenga’s office has not yet received a response, according to his staff.

“We’re still very optimistic that we’ll get the grant very soon,” Bulthuis said.

The Rapid has been counting on the federal grant to pay for 80 percent of the $70 million project. The rest of the cost will be covered by the Michigan Department of Transportation, which has already allocated the $14 million it pledged.

Should The Rapid receive the federal grant in time, station construction would begin this spring and last throughout 2019, with a grand opening of the Laker Line in May 2020, Bulthuis said.

The Laker Line will offer bus service similar to what The Rapid offers on its existing Route 50. Buses will pick up passengers from stops every five to six minutes at peak times.

The travel time will largely be the same too, Bulthuis said.

What the Laker Line will be able to offer is larger buses that can carry more riders, making the route more efficient, Bulthuis said. The articulated buses can carry up to 60 passengers — about 20 more passengers than the 40-foot buses that run on Route 50 now.

Without the federal grant in hand, The Rapid is unable to start construction on the 20 platforms it needs to build for the stations, and cannot purchase the 16 articulated buses that will run the route.

Traffic signal priority technology will also be installed to extend green lights for buses to pass through, and to turn red lights back to green several seconds faster.

The Rapid is also waiting to build the turn-around for the Laker Line at Prospect Avenue on the Medical Mile. A turn signal will be installed to allow the buses to turn left off of Michigan Street into a small turn around – called a “loon” – at Prospect and Michigan.

GVSU will pay for the operation of the Laker Line as a part of its existing 10-year contract with The Rapid that began in July 2013.

The university pays $53 per revenue-hour to cover fuel, maintenance and driver staffing expenses for routes 50 and 85 – a rate that can be adjusted depending on costs to The Rapid.

The Laker Line will have 14 stops:

  • – GVSU’s Kirkhof Center
  • – GVSU’s Mackinac Hall
  • – Ferndale and Lake Michigan Drive
  • – Cummings and Lake Michigan Drive
  • – Standale Trail and Lake Michigan Drive
  • – Maynard and Lake Michigan Drive
  • – Covell and Lake Michigan Drive
  • – Fulton and Garfield
  • – Fulton and Straight
  • – GVSU’s Pew Campus
  • – Monroe and Louis (Silver Line stop)
  • – Monroe and DeVos Place (Silver Line stop)
  • – Michigan and Bostwick (Silver Line stop)
  • – Michigan and Lafayette

Recently the city closed the intersection of Fulton and Mt. Vernon at GVSU’s Pew Campus for five months to study the impact of the possible changes that could come as a station is added just east of the intersection.

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The Rapid’s 2017 Year In Review

2017 Year in Review

At The Rapid, we know there’s more to the ride. In 2017, there was more than ever before. What a year! We launched a new transit improvement study, introduced The Wave e-fare system, began our transition to a compressed natural gas (CNG) bus fleet and so much more.

Thank you for another great year!

Posted in Places to Go on

10 Events to Ride The Rapid to in January 2018

January 2018 Transit-Friendly Events

Hello, 2018! Avoid cabin fear and welcome in the new year by getting out and exploring.

Here are some events we can get you to this month:

Andy Warhol’s American Icons at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Don’t miss this prestigious exhibition! Throughout January, visit the GRAM to take in Warhol’s celebration of America by bringing together a selection of unique paintings, prints, photographs and even film of iconic American products and symbols like Coca-Cola and the Empire State Building, of fictional characters like Superman, and of iconic Americans like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Muhammad Ali and Warhol himself. The exhibition is drawn from prestigious museum collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Andy Warhol Museum, GRAM, and other public and private sources.

Ride the Silver Line and Routes 6, 9, 11 and 13 to get to the GRAM.

Tuesdays on the Town

Bundle up and take a stroll through Downtown’s historic shopping districts until 8 p.m. every Tuesday. Get there via one of our fixed routes, the Silver Line (free within downtown Grand Rapids) or the free DASH buses!  Start your evening with dinner and then enjoy some late night shopping entertainment. Explore all the local boutique shops, sports apparel, kitchen gifts, clothing, specialty foods, and unique gifts, salon/spa services. Various shops will have specials and other features like trunk shows, refreshments, demos and music.

Routes 1, 2, 3,4, 5+ can get you there.

Ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle

Grab your ice skates and ride The Rapid to Downtown Grand Rapids for a skate around Rosa Parks Circle. You can even purchase a season pass for just $50 for adults and $20 for youth.

Routes 6, 9, 11, 13, 50 and the Silver Line can get you to Rosa Parks Circle.

Indie Flea Grand Rapids at Wealthy Theatre

Do you have some things still on your wishlist after the holidays? On Jan. 6, ride Route 5 to the Wealthy Theatre to shop local vendors and discover the best products in Grand Rapids. Grab your reusable shopping tote and get ready to shop!

Route 5 and 6 can get you to Wealthy Theatre.

New Urbanism Film Festival: Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids’ New Urbanism Film Festival is back on Jan. 11 at the Wealthy Theatre. Join ICCF & the Congress for New Urbanism: Michigan as we screen some of the award-winning films from the 2017 New Urbanism Film Festival in LA – including the highly anticipated feature-length film “Priced Out”. If conversations around urban planning, community building, gentrification, and/or city living fascinate you.

Route 5 and 6 can get you to Wealthy Theatre.

WinterWest

This family-friendly event takes place on Jan. 13 at Richmond Park and Jan 27 at Mulick Park. Dress in your warmest winter gear and come out to partake in ice skating, snowshoeing, sled races snowman building contest, fat tire biking, nature walk and food trucks.

This fun series that are free events in collaboration with the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Rec Department and neighborhood associations to encourage outdoor park engagement during the chilly winter months. See the full schedule of events here.

Plan your trip to Richmond or Mulich Park!

Winter Fort Building at Blandford Nature Center

Need an excuse to get outside? Ride with us to Blandford Nature Center for some kid-friendly fun on Jan. 13! Whether there is snow or not, come out with you family to see if you can build a fort or shelter that can withstand a chilly winter night. This event is $3 and requires pre-registration.

Ride Route 7 to get to Blandford Nature Center.

Nature Day at the Downtown Market

Visit the Downtown Market on Jan. 20 to experience the outdoors! Come get up close and personal with animals, learn interesting facts about their habitats and enjoy Greenhouse activities. This family-friendly event is free to attend and all ages are welcome.

Route 1, 2, and the Silver Line can get you there.

Winter Concert Series at Kentwood Library

Catch some tunes by Matt Gabriel at the Kentwood Library on Jan. 18. This singer/songwriter performs folk and blues tunes we know you will enjoy. Grab a bite at the Patty Matters Food Truck while you’re there. You can also bring your own beer or wine to enjoy at the show!

Get to the Kentwood Library via Route 2 or 44.

Kids & Family Expo at DeVos Place

Beat cabin fever by taking your family to DeVos Place on Jan. 27! There will be loads of crafts, games, play stations, costumed characters and even a zip line. This event is $7 to attend. Purchase your tickets at the door or online here.
Located near Routes 11, 15, 50 and the Silver Line.