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ICYMI: Rappin’ On The Rapid

Laughfest, the 10-day festival of all-things-funny may be finished for 2014, but that doesn’t mean there’s still laughs to be had. Rapid Growth Lifestyle Editor and Publisher, Tommy Allen shares a glimpse into what happens when local comic Matt Laurie takes visiting Laughest comedian Tracey Ashley for a ride on the Silver Line.

Have you ridden the Silver Line yet?

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Beyond Traffic: The 30-Year Framework For The Future

Beyond Traffic 2045

Transportation infrastructure may not be the most sexy topic of conversation, but it’s crucial to your daily life, and the  nation as a whole. On behalf of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), we would like to invite you to have a frank conversation about the shape, size and condition of our nation’s transportation network and how it will meet the needs and goals of our nation for decades to come.

Beyond Traffic is a draft framework for the future, it’s not prescriptive. It does not advocate for specific policy solutions. Rather, it underscores critical decision points facing the country, by means of data driven analysis, research, expert opinions and public engagement. To gather diverse perspective and ideas, USDOT is hosting a series of Virtual Session — each focused on a different theme of the Beyond Traffic Framework.

– March 17th  from 1:00-2:00 PM- Beyond Traffic: How We Move
– March 17th  from 3:00-4:00 PM- Beyond Traffic: How We Move Things
– March 25th  from 1:00-2:00 PM- Beyond Traffic: How We Move Better
– March 25th   from 3:00-4:00 PM- Beyond Traffic: How We Adapt
– March 30th  from 1:00-2:00 PM- Beyond Traffic: Dollars And Decisions

RSVP to each session at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BeyondTrafficShareYourIdeas.
Download the full draft Beyond Traffic framework: www.dot.gov/beyondtraffic

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Have You Thanked Your Bus Driver Lately?

Rapid bus drivers keep our community moving. They maneuver through traffic and weather conditions of all kinds to get you safely to work, school, appointments, and everything in between. And on top of ensuring the safe and timely arrival of passengers to destinations, they also must check fares, give directions, and ensure that the needs of passengers are met accordingly. Most bus drivers make multitasking look second nature. 

On Wednesday, March 18, consider going out of your way to show gratitude for your bus driver in honor of Transit Driver Appreciation Day. While simply saying thank you can brighten anyone’s day, you might consider doing something extra special for your Rapid bus driver. If you’re looking for something more personal, considering signing and printing the Transit Driver Appreciation Day cards available online to pass out to your favorite bus driver or drivers. You can also share positive feedback about your favorite driver with The Rapid’s transportation department via our online contact form. (This is something you can do any time of year!)

For those curious about the history behind March 18, this is the day when the world’s first urban bus system made its debut in Paris in 1662. In the centuries since, public transit operators have kept the world moving. They’ve helped us through everything from day-to-day traffic to serious economic recessions—needless to say, the job isn’t always easy.

We hope you’ll take this opportunity to make a Rapid bus driver’s day a little brighter by showing them your appreciation.

How do you thank your bus driver?

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Let Us Be Your Designated Driver This St. Patrick’s Day

Parades, Irish cuisine, live music, whatever you’re seeking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Grand Rapids has it. While the official celebration may land on Tuesday, March 17  this year, it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the festivities. Travel responsibly this St. Patrick’s Day by letting us be your designated driver. And if you’re out later than we are, don’t forget that there’s always Uber to get you home safely. Here are seven great events to check out:

1. Cook Like The Irish
Downtown Market: Luck of the Irish

The monthly Around the World cooking class series continues at Downtown Market, 435 Ionia Ave. SW, at 6 p.m. Friday, March 13. Market Chef Jacob will guide you through the steps of preparing delicious Irish cuisine including lamb stew with soda bread, chicken stuffed with cheddar, bacon and cabbage, and stout cake with ice cream.
The class is for ages 21 and older for $55 per person. Preregistration is required at downtownmarketgr.com. Registration closes Thursday, March 12, at 5 p.m.

Rapid routes nearby: Route 1, 2, 5, Silver Line

2. Spend All Day On Ionia
Irish On Ionia

Irish on Ionia with Irish music, beer and activities. The St. Patrick’s Day-themed festival, scheduled for Saturday, March 14, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., offers two stages of entertainment with dancers, DJs, and live music including Paddy’s Cure, Ardan Academy of Irish Dance, The Tosspints, The Waxies and Stone Clover.

Tickets are $15-$55 at ticketweb.com or at McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon, 58 Ionia Ave. SW. More details on Facebook.

Rapid routes nearby: 1, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15

3. Celebrate At The B.O.B.
St. Patrick’s Day at The B.O.B.

Guinness, Peanut Butter Porter, and the inescapable green beer are waiting at The B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave. NW, on Saturday, March 14.

Festivities start with a pancake breakfast from 9-11 a.m. ($5 donation to Pets for Vets) and continue with live music from 3 p.m. until close featuring Dave O’Neill, The Saltbound Band, Dueling Pianos, and Hip Pocket. There is no cover charge for entry before 9 p.m. Details at thebob.com or 616-356-2000.

Rapid routes nearby: Silver Line, 1, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 50

4. Get The Full Irish Experience
Quinn and Tuite’s Irish Pub St. Patrick’s Day Party

The winner of MLive’s regional poll for best neighborhood bar, Quinn and Tuite’s Irish Pub, 1535 Plainfield Ave. NE, is known as Grand Rapids’ home of Irish music and has won awards for perfect pours of Guinness drafts.

Expect large crowds when the bar’s celebration begins at noon Saturday, March 14. Music on Saturday will be provided by the Conklin Ceili Band, Gasta, and The Billies. Festivities continue Tuesday, March 17, with The Saltbound Band and Brendan Loughrey.

Details at quinnandtuites.com/.

Rapid routes nearby: 11

5. Ice Cream And Dancing For A Cause
Irish Ceili & Ice Cream Social

On Friday, March 20 Fountain Street Church is hosting an Irish ice cream social. Learn easy Irish dancing from an expert caller and enjoy dessert from 7 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.  This fundraiser for Character School is only $10/person and $25/family to get in. Learn more here.

Rapid routes nearby: 1, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15

6. Don’t Miss The Parade
Grand Rapids St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Grand Rapids’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade is Saturday, March 14, at 11 a.m. The parade starts on Lyon Street NW, west to Monroe Avenue NW, south to Monroe Center NW, east on North Division Avenue, and finishes heading north to Library Street. More information on Facebook.

Rapid routes nearby: 1, 4, 6, 9, 14, 15, Silver Line

7. Dance For Good Luck
Big St. Patrick’s Day Swing Dance 

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by dancing and wearing green at Woodland Skating on Tuesday, March 17 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The cost is just $6 to get in. Never swing danced before? There will be lessons! Don’t forget to bring a partner.

Rapid routes nearby: 5, 28

Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to travel responsibly this St. Patrick’s Day.

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4 Rapid Travel Training Services To Consider

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what challenges you face, travel training is a service that can benefit anyone.” — Cari, Rapid Travel Trainer

Aurora pond seniors riding The Rapid.

Whether you’re new to The Rapid service area or just need some extra assistance in using the bus, travel training is a great way to become more comfortable on public transportation. But if you’re wondering what exactly travel training is and how you or someone you know can benefit from it, you’re likely not alone.

Here at The Rapid, we have offered in-house travel training for 18 years. We have two staff members who teach individuals with disabilities, seniors, and anyone just looking for some extra assistance, how to access their environment and community and use public transportation independently. Our travel trainers, Sarah and Cari, offer a variety of plans and program to best meet the needs of individuals or groups. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what challenges you face, travel training is a service that can benefit anyone.” said Cari, Rapid travel trainer.

Here are the four types of travel training offered at The Rapid:

1. One-on-one travel training

Through this portion of our travel training program, our travel trainers not only plan a trip or trips to best meet the passenger’s needs, they also ride with him or her to along the trip, and stay in contact with the passenger to monitor progress. For instance, Stephanie contacted The Rapid for travel training because she had just moved to Grand Rapids from California and was nervous to take public transit in a new city on her own. Prior to starting her new job, One of our trainers went out to Stephanie’s home with a schedule book and a route map and helped her to plan a route to work. The trainer showed her where her closest bus stop was located and what time she would have to catch the bus in order to make it to work on time. Stephanie received one-on-one travel training that was specific to the help she needed. After talking with the trainer she felt confident that she could take the route the next morning on her own.

Bus 101 group riding The Rapid.2. Group travel training

More simply known as “Bus 101,” this specialized travel training presentation is an overview of Rapid services focusing on fixed route use. Learn the benefits and advantages of active transportation while receiving travel training information tailored to your needs as a rider. Bus 101 is designed to assist individuals new to independent travel options or those who support them to help learn the ropes. Group travel training can include an actual trip for groups under 25 or a presentation at the location of their choice.

3. Vehicle familiarization

This program is a great option for individuals who may be new to a mobility device. Since all of our fixed route buses are lift equipped and accessible, we offer a chance to get to know the vehicle prior to regular use. Our travel trainers provide information and practical experience to ensure individuals can safely board Rapid fixed route buses. Passengers are able to interact directly with an out-of-service vehicle so they are prepared for future boarding.

4. Senior MentorsSenior Mentors

In conjunction with our travel training services, we also have a senior mentor program. The Rapid Senior Mentor Program is an exciting opportunity for seniors to stay active and mobile. Experienced volunteers are paired with any senior who may be new to using fixed route service. Through the guidance of our volunteer mentors, new senior passengers learn how easy and safe riding the bus locally can be. The mentor provides all the information, plans the route to a destination of the passenger’s choosing, and even travels with the new passenger. The mentor also gives the participant a free 10-ride fare card to start his or her bus travels.

If you’re interested in any of these services, it’s important to note that they are all free to participants. Our travel trainers will also provide each individual with bus fare for their training trips.

Reach out to our travel trainers to learn more about these services or set up your appointment. You can email Sarah Green at sgreen@ridetherapid.org, Cari Denanny cdennany@ridetherapid.org, or call the travel training office at (616)456-7514.

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Welcoming Our New Transportation Manager

In January, we strengthened our team by welcoming Veronica Lowe as the new transportation manager. Veronixa Lowe headshot

Lowe brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience, having been a leader in public and pupil transportation for more than 24 years. Prior to joining The Rapid, Lowe served in a diverse set of roles, including chief of paratransit and taxi operations in Prince George’s County, Md; director of transportation for Frederick County Public Schools, (Frederick, Md.); transportation supervisor for Grand Rapids Public Schools; manager of Your Ride paratransit service in Flint, Mich; and coordinator of community education transportation for Grand Rapids Public Schools. Her work accomplishments include implementing cost saving measures, drastically reducing department overtime, and reducing employee absenteeism through accountability.

She has further demonstrated her commitment to public transportation by serving in over a dozen professional associations and committees, adding to her expertise in leadership, team building, development, planning, and customer service. Lowe’s educational experience has also given her the tools necessary to lead, earning an MBA in Leadership Studies from Baker College, Center for Graduate Studies in 2005.

Lowe’s daily responsibilities will include overseeing a staff of approximately 275 bus operators and 12 supervisors within the transportation department, as well as developing and implementing departmental policies, administering departmental operating budgets, and identifying and implementing training needs and programs.

“We are pleased that Veronica has joined The Rapid as Transportation Manager,” said Rapid Chief Operations Officer Brian Pouget. “A Grand Rapids native, she brings a rich background of service in both public and pupil transportation. Veronica’s experience in Michigan and Maryland has prepared her well to lead the 280+ employees of the Transportation Department.”

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The Rapid To Hold Job Fair

Are you or someone you know seeking employment? The Rapid is hosting a job fair on Saturday, February 28, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. at Rapid Central Station located at 250 Grandville Ave. SW on the second floor Community Room.Jobs Next Exit

The Rapid is seeking exceptional candidates that excel in customer service to fill Bus Operator positions to start training in May (6 to 8 openings) and June (10 to 12 openings). All bus operators start in a part-time status. Part-time bus operator’s work up to 29 hours a week at an hourly rate of $17.91.

To qualify, applicants will need:

– A valid Michigan Driver’s License (CDL certification preferred but not required at time of hire)
– A commitment to safety and customer service
– Excellent dependability
– Flexible scheduling (ability to work any shift, 7 days a week)
– Ability to pass a background check and drug screen

For additional information regarding the bus operator positions and to review the minimum qualifications, please visit ridetherapid.org.

For applicants attending the job fair, should bring their valid driver’s license.

If you’re unable to attend the job fair but still interested in a position, you may also apply in person Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at our Administrative offices located at 300 Ellsworth Avenue S.W. in Grand Rapids.

The Rapid is an equal opportunity employer. Women in minorities are encouraged to attend and apply.

Posted in In The Community on

Creative Mornings + The Rapid: Exploring Aboard The Silver Line

“Life is either a great adventure, or nothing.” – Hellen Keller

Going on an adventure doesn’t have to mean leaving your city, or even your neighborhood. And if you’re like us, any excuse to explore aboard a bus is a good one. So what was the excuse for our most recent bus adventure? Showing our new friends at Creative Mornings the hidden gems along the Silver Line route.

For the curious: Creative Mornings is a free breakfast lecture series for the creative community. Once a month they choose a theme and a speaker and make magic happen. On February 27, we’re lucky enough to have Rapid Central Station as the venue for their Climate event featuring Rachel Hood from WMEAC.

Inspired by our first Silver Line & Dine experience, the folks at Creative Mornings wanted to see what South Division had to offer their taste buds, as well as experience Michigan’s first bus rapid transit system. While the weather was freezing the Saturday we explored, the trip was resoundingly warm and delightful. Words don’t always do a good adventure justice, so here’s a glimpse into what took place:

Our trip started at the GRCC/Spectrum Silver Line station located at Ransom and Crescent traveling southbound.

It was indicated that coffee was necessary to fight the cold, so we got off at the next stop (Fulton)  and visited PaLatte Coffee & Art just across the street. Cappuccinos and muffins were enjoyed by all.

We then caught a southbound Silver Line at the Fulton station to head to Kim Nhung Super Store, the next stop on our itinerary.

Located a short walk from the 44th Street station, this Asian grocery is a must-visit for food lovers. From fresh fish and produce to a wall of ramen noodle offerings, there’s something at this store for every grocery list.

The last stop on our trip was lunch. Due to the weather we decided soup was a must. Thankfully Pho Soc Trang is in the same building as the grocery. Their pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) was the perfect remedy for the cold.

The ride home was noticeably quiet. After trudging through the snow and eating a warm lunch, the majority of the ride was spent enjoying the free Silver Line Wi-Fi and relaxing in the comfortable seating.

If you’re interested in having your own bus adventure, consider coming out to Creative Mornings at Rapid Central Station on Friday, February 27.  Tickets are available starting next Monday, February 23 at 9:30 am here.

 

 

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5 Transit-Friendly Valentine’s Day Ideas

Nothing beats getting on board the bus with your sweetie. Forget the old “dinner and flowers” routine this February 14. Are you looking for a few ideas to set your Valentine’s Day apart from the rest? Grab your bus pass and your significant other for these wallet-friendly, public transit accessible date ideas: Heart-shaped transit map.

1. Who needs dinner when you can have brunch? Valentine’s Day dinner is a February 14th staple. We think it’s time to switch it up. Scrap the standard Valentine’s dinner plans and go out for breakfast, lunch, or better yet, brunch. Here are three brunch locations  for your consideration:

– The Westsider Cafe — Located on Walker Avenue and accessible via Routes 7 and 18.
– Anna’s House — Visit the East Beltline Avenue location by riding Routes 5, 6, 24, and 28.
– Terra — Brunch is from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. You can view their Valentine’s Day menu here. Get to this delicious eatery via Route 6.

2. Go see an early movie. Take this classic date idea to a new level by hitting the movie theater before everyone else. Here are a few transit-friendly movie locations to help make your Valentine’s Day a cinematic event:

– AMC Star Grand Rapids 18 — Ride Route 9 this theater.
Celebration! Cinema at Woodland Mall — You can get to this location via Routes 5, 6, 17, 24, 28, and 44. You can even do some shopping while you’re in the area.
UICA — Catch an indie film with your special someone. Get to this theater via 1, 4, 6, 9, 11, and 14.

3. Enjoy a day at the museum. Use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to explore the a a museum with your significant other. You may even want to bring your children along for the ride. This Valentine’s Day the Grand Rapids Public Museum is hosting a Fashion & Tea event. There are also many other museums downtown. You can plan your trip via Rapid Connect.

4. Fall in love with volunteering. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, so why not consider branching out from romance into charity and friendship? Whether you regularly volunteer at an organization or are just considering the idea, there’s many ways to give back on February 14. A quick online search can pull a number of reputable volunteer opportunities in the Grand Rapids area. Just be sure to check use the Rapid Connect Trip Planner to ensure that the destination and timing of your volunteer opportunity works for bus travel.

5. Explore Grand Rapids’ beer offerings. Since you won’t be driving, consider checking out local breweries with your love. You’ll be able to try different beers, enjoy a variety of food, and still travel the city safely. Plan your own Valentine’s Day beer tour by looking at the breweries throughout the city and checking out the Rapid system map. Plan your trip in advance to ensure that routes are running and you can plan out your arrival and departure times. May we suggest starting at Founders, just across the street from Rapid Central Station?

Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show a little love. Simply riding the bus with a special someone to a favorite destination can even be a great way to spend the day.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans?

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#StuckInTraffic: Participate In A Twitter Town Hall With National Transportation Leaders

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The U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Rep. Bill Shuster will be taking to Twitter today to answer questions about reauthorizing U.S. surface transportation; strengthening the Nation’s highways, bridges, and transit infrastructure; and the future of transportation in America. Follow @SecretaryFoxx and @Transport and keep up with the #StuckInTraffic hashtag. The Twitter Town Hall officially begins at 12 p.m. eastern time.