Posted in Places to Go on

8 Farmers Markets We Can Get You To

Outdoor farmers markets are a destination we should never take for granted. And for many people, they’re a quintessential part of the summer agenda. Fortunately, here in the Grand Rapids area we have a number of fantastic farmers markets within walking distance from several bus routes.Overview-1024x584

So load up your tote bags, put on a pair of comfortable shoes, and get ready for a healthy and green shopping experience. For directions, check out our Trip Planner or you can plan your trip via Google Maps. Another noteworthy aspect of the markets on this list is that they all accept Bridge Cards this year. Don’t miss the chance to stop by these great markets this summer:

1. Aquinas College Farm Market

Located off of Route 6.

2. David D. Hunting YMCA Farmers Market

Located off of Route 50.

3. Fulton Street Farmers Market

Located off of Route 14 and Route 19.

4. Grandville Farmers Market

Located off of Route 8.

5. Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Since the Downtown Market is located within walking distance from Central Station, all routes but 44, 28, and 24 are accessible to this location.

6. GVSU Farmers Market

Located off of Route 50.

7. Metro Health Farm Market

Located off of Route 16.

8. Southeast Area Farmers’ Market

Located off of Route 1 and Route 2.

What is your favorite farmers market on this list?

Posted in Events on

Meet Our Dump The Pump Contest Winners

“Dump the pump. Save money. Ride transit.”

For most of our riders, this philosophy is a no-brainer. So for the 9th annual celebration of Dump The Pump Day on June 19, we decided a great way to celebrate would be to give back to those riders who regularly dump the pump for more active forms of transportation. Aside from celebrating on the platform at Central Station, we asked you (our riders and fans) to post a photo showing us how you avoid filling up a gas tank. We were thrilled to see such a wide variety of photos featuring everything from bus stop selfies to shots of tennis shoes.

While it’s clear that everyone who dumps the pump on a daily basis is a winner, we had a random drawing to choose three photo contest participants as our winners. Let us introduce you to them:

Grand Prize Winner: Josh C.








Josh is a Rapid rider, as well as a RapidVanpooler for his daily commutes to his job in Muskegon. Josh received a $50 Meijer gift card and two 31-Day Passes as the grand prize winner.

First Runner-Up Winner: Mar’Quita M.










Mar’Quita shared the following caption on her Dump The Pump photo: “Not only do we ride the bus, walk and occasionally run after the bus…We also piggyback when times are tough!”

Second Runner-Up Winner: Kiersten Q.










Kiersten posted this caption with her photo: “A beautiful night to wait for the 14.”

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Dump The Pump celebration this year!

Posted in Events on

Show Us How You Dump The Pump

High gas prices are a pain. Thankfully there’s a solution that can not only save you money but also help the environment in the process. It’s time to dump the pump, park your car, and catch a ride on The Rapid! Fortunately there’s an honorary day every year for doing just this. The 9th annual Dump The Pump Day takes place this Thursday, June 19!

While many of you celebrate dumping the pump every day just by riding with us, we want you to go above and beyond this coming week. In honor of Dump The Pump Day, we want to see how you Dump The Pump. It’s easy! You’ll have from June 16 to June 20 to post a photo and caption on our Facebook page of you riding the bus, walking, biking, or any other type of active transportation. Make sure to use the hashtag #DumpThePumpGR along with your caption. Those who post photos will be entered to win one of three prize packages. We will choose three winners at random on Friday, June 20. dtp

Prize Packages

Grand Prize: $50 Meijer gift card, 2 31-Day Passes
First Runner-Up Prize: $25 Meijer gift card, 31-Day Pass
Second Runner-Up Prize: $25 Meijer gift card, 31-Day Pass

Photo Ideas

Get creative with your photo ideas and don’t be shy!
– Take a selfie (or a photo you asked someone else to take) of you at your bus stop or on the bus
– Take a photo of your bus stop or a bus
– photo of your bike, longboard, etc.
– A photo from a trip you took via the bus, walking, or another form of active transportation


– Only one photo entrance per person will be counted
– You have until noon on Friday, June 20 to post your entry
– Any offensive/vulgar photos will be promptly removed

Aside from our week-long Dump The Pump photo contest, we will also be hosting a Dump The Pump Celebration on the platform at Central Station on Thursday, June 19 from 1-3pm. Be sure to stop by for a chance to win prizes and get your picture taken. Now get out there and snap some photos with your camera or smartphone and show us how you Dump The Pump here in Grand Rapids!

Posted in Silver Line on

Have You Seen The Silver Line?

What’s silver, green, hybrid, and the first of it’s kind in Michigan? You guessed correct — the Silver Line! For those of you eagerly awaiting the August 25th launch of the Silver Line, you may already know that we recently received our fleet of Silver Line bus rapid transit (BRT) buses from the Gillig factory in California. But the first public appearance of our Silver Line buses happened this past Saturday at the Local First Street Party.

We were thrilled to meet a crowd of eager first-time viewers. Although we understand that not everyone had a chance to come to this exciting event. So we bring you our first digital presentation of one of our Silver Line buses:

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Photo courtesy of John Eisenscenk












Photo courtesy of John Eisenschenk

Photo courtesy of John Eisenschenk













Photo courtesy of John Eisenschenk










What do you think of the new Silver Line buses? Leave us your thoughts in the comments!

Posted in News on

The Rapid Is Now On Google Maps

Have you heard the good news? Our arsenal of rider tools is growing!

With our tech-savvy riders in mind, we’re happy to announce that Rapid routes and schedules are now fully integrated with Google Maps. You can now access our route data via your desktop, mobile, and tablet devices by using Google’s website or mobile apps.

“Aside from our website, Google Maps is another way to access our information,” Rapid spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk said.

downloadWhile you won’t be able to track the real-time location of Rapid buses on Google Maps, you can look up whether a bus is delayed or on time, as well as it’s estimated arrival. Here are some exciting aspects about using Google Maps to plan your next trip on The Rapid:

1. Route customization: Riders can simply enter the date and time that they hope to arrive at their destination (or depart for the trip) and the trip planner will provide 3 options, showing the amount of time and number of transfers for each option, letting you easily select the most convenient trip.

2. Walking directions: Google Maps provides walking directions for riders to find out how to get to the nearest transit stop or station, and how to get to your destination once you leave the bus.

3. Mobile accessible: Transit trip planning is also available on mobile phones (such as iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, S60, and other Java enabled phones). Transit information is now available at people’s fingertips no matter where they are, and can help get them out of a bind if they don’t know which lines/routes service a particular area or what the timetables are.

4. Using business names or place names instead of addresses: You don’t need to know which pizzeria you are going to or its address in order to get directions; with integrated local search results, this means that you don’t need to know exactly where you’re going — in the “to” and “from” fields, you can enter a business name or category instead of a specific street address.

5. Street View imagery of locations: Google Maps offers Street View ground-level images in hundreds of cities and towns across the country; this allows riders to preview a transit station or stop.

6. Fare calculation estimates: If you provide us with the necessary data, we indicate the price of the transit trip, and compare it to the cost of transit to the cost of driving.

7. Support for over 40 languages: Google Maps supports multiple languagesso it is very convenient for foreign language riders, whether residents or international tourists, to find directions and information in their native language.

8. Accessible for visually impaired users: Google Maps generates an output that is compatible with screen readers for visually impaired users (example).

9. Multi-modal friendly: Google Maps offers multi-modal directions linking users to walking, bicycling, driving, and transit direction in one trip. This feature allows Rapid riders to receive details directions on how to get to and from stops and stations.

10. Connects to community: Rich data integration allows for a closer connection to the community by featuring areal imagery, business listings, user reviews, and street-level views. It gives users a thorough understanding of the neighborhood before users set foot on it.

To create a route on your desktop, head to Google Maps, click on “Directions” then type their starting point and destination. Clicking the bus icon will take the user to transit mode, which shows the nearest bus stop and its distance.

“This is another big step forward for us at The Rapid. We have been working to make our service more digitally accessible, especially for mobile devices. The integration of our system on Google Maps makes it even more convenient to get instant access to everything from multi-modal route information to simply finding our website,” said Peter Varga CEO of The Rapid. “Our availability on Google Maps also allows those visiting our community to more easily access public transportation system information on a platform they are familiar with using in other cities.”

Have you planned a trip using Google Maps yet?

Posted in CEO Insight on

Why Millennials Are Shifting Commuter Trends

America’s future may be riding on public transportation, but the true keepers of public transit’s destiny are millennials. While they’re often stereotyped in daily news headlines, this tech-savvy civic-minded generation knows how to get around. In fact, nearly 70 percent of millennials use multiple modes of transportation to get around the city or suburbs, with public transit topping the list as a generational favorite due to its ability to connect all other modes.IMG_0548

This generation wants choices when it comes to transportation. Getting around should be low-cost, green, convenient, and much more. I commend this generation and believe we should welcome this trend. Increased public transportation — and active transportation use — improves the environment, saves money, and enhances commuters’ quality of life. As for communities, those who do not accommodate the millennial demand are at risk of losing millennials are other places altogether.

Yes, Americans have been driving less and only 49 percent of 17-year-olds are licensed to drive compared to 75 percent in 1978. So what explains this shift? I believe it starts with millennials’ worldview. More than other generations, they “appear to be more interested in living lives defined by meaning,” according to Stanford Professor Jennifer Aaker and Emily Esfahani Smith of the Hoover Institution.

Millennials act on that desire for meaning — to “make a difference” — even when deciding how to get from place to place. To give some reasoning behind their interest in meaning they have specifically cited ease of use, lower environmental impact, and the sense of community it fosters. This interest aligns directly with a recent University of Minnesota study, which found that living closer to light rail lines is associated with a higher degree of life satisfaction.

To learn more about why and how millennials are shifting commuter trends in America, read my entire column via USA Today.

– Peter Varga
CEO of The Rapid

Do you think cities are doing enough to cater to multimodal lifestyles?

Posted in News on

Moving Toward More Sustainable Transit

Vanner HBA UnitFrom being named the best mid-sized transit system in the country to hitting a new one-year record of 12.5 million rides, we’ve had a lot of milestones in the past year. Today we are happy to announce one more as we take an important step toward more sustainable public transit after receiving Vanner Incorporated’s 1,000th Hybrid Beltless Alternator (HBA®) on one of our new HBA® ready Gillig hybrid Silver Line BRT buses.

“Receiving this bus is very exciting for all of us at The Rapid,” explains Rapid CEO Peter Varga. “As the number one mid-sized transit system of the year we know other transit authorities are watching us and looking to see what we are doing right. I can say with confidence that our growing fleet of HBA® equipped hybrids is definitely one of those things we are doing right.”

Products like the HBA® are the result of healthy collaboration between Vanner and OEMs like Gillig. “Our goal is to produce the most reliable, durable and cost effective bus to maintain and operate and this advanced technology helps us do just that,” explains Joe Policarpio, Vice President for Sales and Marketing at Gillig. “We purchased the first HBA® in 2010 and we’re proud to have received the 1,000th HBA®. It is technology that works for Gillig and our customers. We’re also pleased to say it is American made.”

The Vanner Hybrid Beltless Alternator is an energy efficient solid state DC conversion alternative to traditional mechanical-drive alternator systems that reduces maintenance, fuel consumption and emissions. Running at 92-95 percent conversion efficiency, a single HBA® configuration can deliver up to 300 amps at idle (24 VDC) and with a Dual HBA® equipped bus up to 600 amps at idle (24VDC) are capable. An Electric Beltless Alternator (EBA®) configuration is available for electric, fuel cell and battery buses.IMG_3999

HBA® and EBA® equipped vehicles are currently in service in fifty seven transit authorities across North America and six countries worldwide including Spain, India, Turkey, Poland, Malaysia and Brazil. Made in Hilliard, Ohio, the Vanner HBA® is fully “Buy America” compliant.More than 120 HBAs® have been ordered since delivery of the 1,000th HBA® to Grand Rapids and the HBA® is quickly becoming the preferred DC-DC conversion system for Allison Hybrid buses due to its energy efficiency and fuel savings.

“Our hybrid bus fleet already receives a 20 percent savings in fuel consumption with the Gillig Hybrid,” continues Varga. “Integrating the Vanner HBA® will further those savings. The reduced maintenance and parts replacement costs over the life of the bus are additional benefits to our fleet. As stewards of our environment we find the Vanner HBA® equipped bus a natural fit because we know that we are not only putting a more efficient bus in service, we are also providing a greener transit ride for our community.”

Share your thoughts of the future of sustainable public transit below! 

Posted in News on

The Laker Line Study Takes Public Engagement Online

The future of Route 50 is in your hands. Fortunately, sharing your ideas for the next generation of this connector route is as easy as logging online thanks to the innovative new software MindMixer. The Laker Line Study, which is currently underway to determine the viability of enhanced rapid transit options along the existing Route 50, has seen public engagement more than double since the last phase of the project due in part to this innovative online app used to gather feedback.

Staying engaged with important conversations isn’t always easy when you’re busy. This is why the study team is engaging the public via MindMixer, which lets planners engage in a conversation with the public to gather targeted feedback.Route 50 Connector

“Going into the project, we wanted to be as inclusive as possible in how we plan and make decisions for the future, and I think we are on track to do that,” said Nick Monoyios, Long Range Planner for The Rapid. “People’s feedback is key to the project. We have used every tool in the arsenal to engage the public because, ultimately, it is their system. We need their feedback to determine what may – or, may not – work in the implementation of enhanced rapid transit service.”

The MindMixer site has gathered around 200 new ideas from participants and nearly 350 comments. More than 2,300 unique visitors have viewed the site since it was launched last November, viewing around 8,900 pages of questions and feedback on the site. A full report of public engagement is available in this report.

“MindMixer has allowed us to engage the public in a way that hasn’t been possible in the past,” said Lynée Wells, Urban Planner and Principal at Williams & Works. “People are able to pin future station locations they’d like to see on an interactive map, share photos, have virtual conversations, and vote on other people’s ideas to elevate them in prominence.”

In addition to MindMixer, the study has held two series of interactive community meetings at locations along the existing Route 50 corridor. A third phase of public meetings is planned for later this summer, at which the public is welcome to examine displays exhibiting the study’s current findings and give feedback on route alignments, station locations, lane configurations, and other details under consideration. Timing and details of the meetings are coming soon.10291735_476943119074469_6550537105618926421_n

If you haven’t had a chance to try out MindMixer, it’s not too late. This online forum will be available throughout the study.  Help steer the future of Route 50 by simply logging on, checking out the current conversation topics, providing feedback, and with the planning team, riders, stakeholders in the corridor, and others interested in the Laker Line analysis.

Have you suggested a way to improve transit between Grand Rapids and Allendale? 

Posted in Rider Stories on

Real Rider – Jon B. Rides To Save

Are you a Real Rider of The Rapid? If you’re interested in being featured as a part of our series, we’d love to hear from you. Submit your story for consideration by clicking the link on the right side of this blog. 

 “I save every month by riding instead of driving. Some months I have saved over $300 in gas money!”

Sure, leaving your car at home and riding public transit is a better choice for the planet and your own health. But who doesn’t love saving money? With the cost of a 31-Day Pass set at $40.00 for regular riders, it’s no comparison to current gas prices. And it gets even better for college students in the Greater Grand Rapids area. Most local colleges and universities offer free or discounted fares for student Rapid riders, which simplifies the cost of getting around on a college budget.

Meet Jon B.! This Grand Valley State University student and avid Rapid rider has a special passion for public transit travel. He’s taken full advantage of his ability to ride for free as a GVSU student. Here’s what Jon had to say about riding The Rapid:


Where do you live?
I live in Allendale, in an apartment at 48 West.

How long have you been riding The Rapid?
I have been riding The Rapid since I moved to Allendale to go to GVSU in the fall of 2012.

Why do you ride The Rapid?
I ride The Rapid as a free alternative to driving around the Grand Rapid area. Even though I have a car, it gets abysmal mileage, so riding the bus saves me a ton of money.

Which route/routes do you ride the most?
I ride route 37 most often, as it takes me from my apartment to GVSU’s Allendale campus. I also ride routes 8, 48 and 50 when I need to go to the mall, downtown, or a friend’s house.

What’s your favorite thing to do while riding The Rapid?
If it’s relatively late at night, I tend to chat with the drivers to give them a bit of company with a mostly empty bus. Outside of that, I do a lot of programming on my laptop while riding downtown.

What do you think is the best thing about living in the Greater Grand Rapids area?
I really do think The Rapid is one of the best things about Grand Rapids. The ability to get from my apartment to downtown to a movie or mall without spending a huge amount of money on gas is absolutely wonderful for a college student like myself.

What’s one thing you would say to convince others to try riding The Rapid?
I’m not sure I know anyone around here who doesn’t ride The Rapid, but if I find someone, I would show him or her how much money I save every month by riding instead of driving. Some months I have saved over $300 in gas money!

If you want to find out how much money you could save by riding The Rapid, check out this handy fuel savings calculator!

How much money would/has riding The Rapid saved you?

Posted in News on

Service Update: Route 3 Is Changing

Please be advised that Route 3 is changing. Due to increased employment activity along Roger B. Chaffee Drive and Cherry Street in downtown Grand Rapids, Route 3 is undergoing two route changes to improve service. This route change will be effective on Monday, May 5, 2014.

New Routing Downtown

Route 3 will service Cherry St. instead of Fulton St. All removed stops will be served by Route 4.

New Routing South

Route 3 will extend south past 36th St. on Roger B. Chaffee Blvd. to close to 44th St., and will turn around to return north to Hope Network and the regular route.

Stops No Longer Served By Route 3

  • Jefferson at 40 Jefferson
  • East Fulton at Ransom
  • Fulton & Sheldon
  • Fulton & Louis
  • Ottawa & Fulton
  • Ottawa & Oakes

New Stops Served By Route 3

  • 3859 Model Die & Mold
  • 3910 Roger B GR Plastics
  • 4005 Rapid Supply & Sales
  • 4220 Roger B GR Plastics
  • Cherry & LaGrave
  • Commerce & Cherry