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Real Rider Stories – Luisa Shumacher

1337360292_luisathumbPublic transportation connects people to their community. It gets Luisa Shumacher to work, business meetings, community events, and the store. And with ongoing improvements, many routes operate more frequently and later at night.

“It really is important to me to feel connected to what’s happening in Grand Rapids. The Rapid helps me do that.”

Excerpts from Luisa’s interview…

“I’ve been using public transportation probably since I was about 10 years old. Traveling to cities was a big part of growing up in my family and we went Washington DC often and I’ll never forget how cool it was riding the bus and wishing that it would be like that for me in the city where I decided to live growing up. I have been a regular Rapid rider for 2 years.”

“I ride it to work, that’s really kind of where I started off, deciding that I was going to ride the rapid one day a week to work and now I’m up to two days a week and on weekends when I’m running errands around town or just going shopping.”

“I use public transportation for a variety of reasons. The first one is it’s really a quality of life issue for me. I like riding the bus. I enjoy the ease of getting from place to place. I like being able to catch up on my work emails on my drive in to work because it’s the only place where you can text while riding so I really, really enjoy that luxury. But I also ride because it’s good for our community. It’s a way for me to see the people who are in my neighborhood. I often times don’t go to community events, I don’t have children in the school, so this is the chance that I have to interact with people who live in my community.”

“Transit is important in my daily life because it’s the thing that helps me have a sense of community. When I ride on the rapid I get to see the people who live in my neighborhood, it gets me to where I’m going whether it’s a business meeting, a community event, a store, it’s really is important to me to feel connected to what’s happening in Grand Rapids and The Rapid helps me do that.”

“In December of this last year I did an employee challenge encouraging the employees at WMCAT to ride the bus and providing them each with a Rapid 10-pass and saying that if you rode the bus, there could be some long-term benefits besides just getting a free bus pass. But it was a challenge to encourage our employees to get accustomed to public transportation and really overtime incentivize riding The Rapid, because as an employer it’s very expensive to pay for downtown parking. It’s about $1,000 to $1,500 dollars per parking space and I think that most employees would agree that they would rather have that pad their salary than have it be something that their employer pays for.”

“I choose bus transportation because it’s convenient, frankly. I am able to walk one block away from my home and get dropped off two blocks away from my office. I am from my house to downtown Grand Rapids in 11 minutes. And now that the frequency of The Rapid has increased, I’m able to choose when I go to the office, really, it can be anytime at this point because I can just walk a block away, hop on within ten minutes there’s a bus there, at least, and I’m downtown. So it really is about convenience and that’s why I do it.”

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Real Rider Stories – Sean Dailey

1337360634_seanthumbWhen his car died, Sean decided to see how long he could go riding The Rapid. That was four years ago. He’s still riding because it’s affordable, effective and doing something good for the environment too. He takes the bus to work, to the mall, and out to the movie theater.

“I could be spending tons of money on a car to get me places. Now I’m spending that money at those places I was trying to get to by taking The Rapid.”

Excerpts from Sean’s interview…

“Since the summer of 2008, my old car that I had been driving since high school finally gave out on me, and I decided “Well, let’s see how long I can just ride The Rapid and just use public transportation.” And it’s almost four years later…”

“It just made sense logically, it’s $1.50 a ride, and there’s routes that go right by my house, right to work, right to everywhere that I need to go, so it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

“I take the Rapid to work, I take the Rapid to the mall, I take it out to the movie theater, I take it downtown to shows and bars, pretty much anywhere.”

“I think that especially people in the younger generation are becoming less and less dependent on cars, and wanting to live in a city where they don’t have to own a car, where they can get by on a bike, in a combination of a bike and public transit.”

“I think everybody should try it once. I think there’s a lot of people who think “Oh that’s just for poor people.” or “That’s just for people who don’t have a car. I don’t need that, I drive.” And I think a lot of people would be surprised about how easy it is to take, how convenient it is, how cheap it is, I mean I could be spending tons of money on a car to get me places and now I’m spending that money at those places I was trying to get to, by taking The Rapid.”

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Real Rider Stories – Lisa Walkendorf


Lisa Walkendorf has used The Rapid for years so taking her daughter downtown was a natural next step. It’s easy, affordable and eliminates the hassles of finding parking. They use The Rapid to take classes, go ice skating, and even attend Zumba classes. It makes it easy to take Laura’s friends too.

“We get dropped off in front of the children’s museum or the main library.”

Excerpts from Lisa’s interview…

“We like to take the bus downtown especially because it’s easy, it’s less costly and it’s no hassle with traffic or parking.”

“We live in Grand Rapids, can just ride the bus from our house right downtown and get dropped off in front of the Children’s Museum or the Main Library and we’re good to go.”

“I think it benefits the community tremendously to have bus service because you have an availability to get downtown or to get where you need to go.”

“Riders need to know that it is easy to take the bus, that it’s safe, that it’s cost-effective especially when you’re coming downtown then you don’t have to deal with parking.”

“I think that public transportation is not only a necessity for many of the people that live in Grand Rapids, but it could grow to be a lot more convenient and save both on the environment, on the pocket book and then on the travel time.”

“I ride The Rapid because it’s convenient and it’s fun for my daughter to come. It’s an easy way to transport kids downtown, it’s fun to do different activities downtown; it makes it more convenient to get here.”

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Real Rider Stories – Bill DeVries

1337360726_billthumbRetirement is not a reason for Bill DeVries to slow down. He relies on a combination of his bike and The Rapid to participate in local events, volunteer, explore his surroundings – even visit his granddaughters. Bill loves to ride because it’s affordable, green and allows him to live an active life.

“It gives you a chance to go different places.”

Excerpts from Bill’s interview…

“I use a bus to go to downtown and for Festival and ArtPrize and things like, this one is very nice so I can go to the January Series on the bus even riding my bike in the winter time.”

“After I retired I looked for inexpensive and ways to get around and I’m also an environmentalist so I look for the least carbon footprint I can make and I have more time now so I can take the bicycle and the bus together.”

“It gives you a chance to see the different parts of city and go different places that you wouldn’t otherwise go because of either parking or costs too much.”

“I like to explore the world around me and I use it to the bus to get there.”

“I like to see different areas and take different rides every once in a while and explore my surroundings.”

“I’m Dutch, so I try to save as much money as I can.”

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Real Rider Stories – Stan Greene

1337360757_stanthumbStan Greene has made intentional adjustments in his life to ‘live more gently’ on our planet. With that in mind, he starts and ends his day riding The Rapid as a reliable resource for getting around town. But he also gets the benefit of connecting to the people and the places that are a part of the community.

“I’d rather read my Fast Company magazine than worry about my turn signal.”

Excerpts from Stan’s interview…

“It’s a way of really having a connection to the daily flow and rhythm of the place that I live.”

“I made the intentional decision to move back in to the city of Grand Rapids about—it’s going to be almost 3 years ago with this fall. And one of the factors was the desire to have the opportunity to use public transit on a more regular basis.”

“For me, riding The Rapid is definitely a choice. It’s a personal choice to live differently.”

“With the expansion of services and the extension of hours in the last couple of months, that’s become even a greater benefit because now there’s a lot more flexibility in terms of the times and opportunities to use public transportation.”

“I ride the bus because having the opportunity to interact with people as part of my daily activities is an important life element for me. I ride the bus because I appreciate not driving 30 minutes in the morning to work. I ride the bus because I’d like to be able to read my Fast Company magazine rather than worry about my turn signal during my commute. I ride the bus because that’s what people do when they live in a cool city.”

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Real Rider Stories – Emily Martin


For 10 years, Emily Martin has relied on The Rapid as a transportation option for work, school and entertainment. It helps her reduce the cost – and the hassle – of car ownership. More importantly, she loves its role in building a better community. It gives everyone the freedom to go the places they need to go in their lives. The Rapid is going places. It’s time to get on board.

Emily Martin sees more than just savings when she rides The Rapid. She sees a community she’s proud to live in.

“You feel more a part of the community when you’re
riding the bus.”

Excerpts from Emily’s interview…

“I’ve been riding The Rapid for 10 years, ever since I’ve moved to Grand Rapids.”

“Driving your car is a very solitary thing. But when you’re on the bus, you’re with other people. You feel more part of a community when you’re riding the bus as transportation versus driving your car because then it’s usually just you.”

“I ride the bus because I think good public transportation is part of what builds a strong community.”

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Hank Meijer Speaks on Public Transit and Accessibility in a Growing City

Hank Meijer, Co-Chairman & CEO, Meijer Inc.

Hank Meijer, Co-Chairman & CEO, Meijer Inc.

Co-Chairman and CEO of a retail chain that serves hundreds of thousands of customers each day, Hank Meijer understands how important it is to be accessible. Look at many of the chain’s Grand Rapids area stores and you’ll see that they’re on transit lines; some feature bus stops.

“When we look at a potential store location we ask, ‘how accessible is it; are our customers and team members going to be able to get to us?’” says Meijer.

Leader of a retail chain that began as a single storefront in Greenville, Michigan and now operates almost 200 stores in five states, Meijer also understands the dynamics of growth.
Meijer believes that people need choices – alternate ways of traveling in the region, whether by choice or necessity – and that public transit should be one of those choices.

“Grand Rapids feels as if it’s on the edge of a very exciting future,” says Meijer.

“To make those aspirations real, to meet the needs of a growing region, the more people who can get on board, the better.”

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We Can Make Our Community Better With Public Transportation – Ellen James

Ellen James, Board Treasurer, Grand Rapids Community College

Ellen James, Board Treasurer, Grand Rapids Community College

Ellen James remembers taking the bus to Davenport College as a student. Now in her third term as a board trustee for Grand Rapids Community College, she realizes how vitally important public transit is, not only for students, but to any resident short on other methods of transportation.

“It’s important that this community rally for the best transit system that we can possibly have.”

James recognizes that not everyone who supports a public transit system uses it every day, but points out that easy access to buses benefits someone you know, someone else in your community who may not have the same resources. This access, she says, is key to the West Michigan region’s continued growth and prosperity, getting people to and from school and jobs, and making it easier to attract the interest of visitors and employers from outside the region, further driving our economic engine.

“We tend to look at Grand Rapids as kind of a small town, but it’s quite sophisticated and it’s becoming a major player in this part of the state and in the country. It’s important that this community grow together.”

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Everyone is Affected by Public Transportation – Joe Jones

Joe Jones, President/CEO, E.E. Milestone + Associates, Inc.

Joe Jones, President/CEO, E.E. Milestone + Associates, Inc.

A Grand Rapids Urban League board member and deeply involved in community initiatives for many years, Joe Jones has seen the impact of both good and bad economies on the area’s residents. In either scenario, access to public transportation is the foundation for job creation and job opportunities. The underlying question, he says, is always the same – how are people going to get to the jobs?

Jones pointed out that the transit system, The Rapid, serves the employer as well as the employee, that it serves the retailer and the local church, the library, our local government. Its impact is far-reaching yet often unseen and not fully appreciated.

“It speaks to the importance of The Rapid … it’s a major component of the economic engine.”

“No matter where you are in life, either yourself or someone you know is affected by public transportation. If you’re the CEO of a major corporation, there’s no doubt that there are folks within your ranks who are bus riders. If you’re a nuclear family … with cars, there’s no doubt that you have relatives, fellow congregants, who are solely dependent on public transportation.”

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Investing in Public Transportation Helps Develop a Vibrant Community – Mike VanGessel

Mike VanGessel, President, Rockford Construction

Mike VanGessel, President, Rockford Construction

As the leader of a company who’s ideas and innovation have drawn projects and praise from across the state and the nation, Mike VanGessel has a unique perspective of the value of location and mobility. As the hub of the metro area, downtown Grand Rapids helps fuel an economic engine that, while sputtering in other parts of the state, continues to hum in West Michigan. A builder, he knows that a structure’s location is one of the keys to success. The other is mobility – will people be able to access it easily, anytime, in any weather? The key to mobility, he says, is public transportation.

“The bus system is just one component of a bigger conversation we need to have. You can call it taxation or subsidization if you want, but it’s an investment in one of the pieces that make this community a better place to live.”