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Honoring Veterans At The Rapid And Throughout The Community

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

Happy Veterans Day

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

– Dan Shull –  Navy, 1970-1973

– Elza Beard – Marine Corps, 1984-1988

– Abe Riley –  Army, 1979-1982

– Ron Prys – Navy, 1968-1973

– Manny Esquivel – Army, 1967-1970

– Jodie Burns – Air Force, 1985-1987

– Donnell Harvey – Air Force, 1981-1985

– Norm Young – Army, 1975-1977

– Robert Olejniczak  – Navy, 1983-1993

– Doug Pierce – Air Force, 1975-1979

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

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

– Leon Carrico –  Army, 1970-1991

– Jim Archie –  Navy, 1983-1989

– Henry Borgeling  – Army, 1980-2010

– Betty Hughes – Air Force, 1976 – 1980

– Matt Oudbier – Marines, 2004 – 2012

– Andrew Pardee – Army, 2005 – 2013

– Joe Biven – Army, 2002- 2006

– Dave Krenz –  Army, 2002 – 2008

– Erik Zwolinski – Air Force, 2006 – 2010

– Noel Plaska –  Army, 1984-2009

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

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6 Things To Know About Transportation In Grand Rapids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Places to Go on

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of MLive.

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in Places to Go on

Manpower Hosts Transit Accessible Job Fair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Laker Line Study Rolls Out The Future Of Route 50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you provide input for the future of Route 50?


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The Laker Line Arrives At ArtPrize

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

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

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

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

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


Posted in In The Community on

The Rapid & The American Seating Company

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

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

Facts about American Seating:

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

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

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Digital Signage Takes The Front Seat On Route 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your thoughts on the digital signage?

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New Study Showcases Who’s Really On Board

With the United States hitting a 50-year high in transit ridership in 2013, it turns out we’re not the only ones interested in learning more about the transit riders behind the nearly 11 billion rides. Fantastic ridership numbers aside, what’s motivating transit riders across America?

TransitCenter, a transportation-focused philanthropy, gets to the bottom of these questions in their new study. Who’s On Board: 2014 Mobility Attitudes Survey points to some unsurprising elements: transit riders are disproportionately young, members of ethnic minorities, and they live in dense neighborhoods where high-quality transit is available. And these riders aren’t concerned with fancy amenities, they choose transit based on travel time and reliability.

But what about the so-called generation gap between transit riders? Featuring data gathered from 11,842 respondents in 46 metropolitan areas, survey data highlights that younger folks are more likely to choose transit. In fact, people under 30 are far more likely to ride public transportation and express positive feelings about it than older people, regardless of their location or what kind of neighborhood they grew up in.Under 30 Transit Riders

These age-linked ridership trends were present in both “traditional cities” like San Francisco, Boston, and New York, as well as regions with much lower overall ridership. The study also found that the preference isn’t just linked to those under 30 being childless and free spirited. In fact, across all income brackets, parents under 30 used transit significantly more than those between 30 and 60. Forty-five percent of the under-30 parent transit riders with incomes above $75,000 said they use transit weekly, compared with 16 percent of parents between 30 and 60 in the same income bracket.

There’s another interesting piece of this survey worth noting: the transit-friendly younger group reported being raised in disproportionately autocentric environments. Their families were less likely to have encouraged walking and biking, and they were less likely to have had easy access to transit. Yet this group still prefers transit.

Perhaps the most significant finding from this survey is that both generations are defying the way they were raised. The Millennial generation of transit riders seems to be defying its suburban upbringing by delaying the acquisitions of a driver’s license and choosing transit. Meanwhile Baby Boomers, who grew up using transit and were encouraged to do so, are defying their upbringing by avoiding transit now. The demand for transit is clear and this survey suggests this trend in support for transit is unlikely to cease in the decades to come.

Read the full survey to learn more key points:

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Support Grows For Increased Federal Investment in Public Transportation

After the opening of the Silver Line, Michigan’s first bus rapid transit system, many Grand Rapidians have had their eyes opened to possibility of public transportation-fueled community transformations. Are you one of the many Americans that supports increased federal investment in public transit?IMG_0968

To align with Congress being back in session after a brief August recess, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a survey that shows the numbers of Americans that support increasing federal public transportation investment grew to nearly 68 percent. This represents a nearly two point increase over last year. The survey, which was conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) for APTA, also found that nearly 74 percent of Americans support the use of tax dollars for creating, expanding, and improving public transportation options in their communities.

“We believe Congress should move swiftly on a robust long-term funding plan for the next surface transportation bill, and not wait until the extension deadline of May 31,said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Americans understand the importance of investing in public transportation because it is a catalyst to transforming their community.”

Seventy six percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that public transportation investment can help create jobs and pave the way to a stronger economy. When asked about the affordable transportation options for people, nearly 88 percent of respondents agreed that public transit expands opportunities and provides access to new jobs and careers as well as to medical care, schools, and colleges.

“Research data shows support for increased revenues for public transportation. This support continues to increase because Americans realize that everyone benefits from public transit investments through the economic growth in their community, even if they do not ride it,” said Melaniphy.

The survey by MTI was a result of 1,503 telephone interviews with individuals across the United States and the margin of error is minus 2.53 percentage points, at the 95 percent confidence level.

View the full study: