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Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows

We know that sitting through a commercial isn’t on the top of many people’s to-do list, but we’re certain we’ve got one worth watching. Have you seen our latest commercials on TV yet? If not, they’re worth a watch. Whether you’re a frequent or casual rider, you understand the importance of public transportation to our community. By connecting us to the places we need to go, public transportation isn’t just bringing the community together, it’s also helping the Greater Grand Rapids area bloom into something even greater than ever before. Enjoy!

Can you name the locations featured in our commercial? Share the locations you spotted in our comments section and we’ll send you a FREE 4-day pass!

Posted in Silver Line on

The Silver Line And The Impact Of Transit Oriented Development

As the construction of the Silver Line’s 34 stations nears completion and we begin planning to open in August, the time has come to think about the impact of transit oriented development.  Michigan’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) line rang in at $40 million dollars and was funded entirely by Federal Transit Administration Very Small Starts and Michigan Department of Transportations.

In case you haven’t been following the exciting news surrounding this decade-long bus rapid transit project, the Silver Line will run with eight hybrid electric buses, dedicated bus lanes, and traffic signal priority technology to boost efficiency and holds green lights to reduce stoppages. The route acts as a connecting point for local municipalities running mostly along S. Division Avenue from 60th St. in Wyoming, north through Kentwood into Grand Rapids. 

But there’s more to this bus rapid transit line than new stations boasting level-boarding platforms and snow-melting mechanisms. The short list of possibilities to note include the following:

  • Development along the Silver Line route
  • Increasing property values
  • Increased economic generation due to improved transportation options
  • Relocation of individuals and families into city’s core to be closer to more transportation options
  • The uniting of Wyoming, Kentwood, and Grand Rapids via transit oriented development near the route

The Silver Line BRTWith new development comes new jobs. And while real numbers aren’t available for the impact of bus rapid transit in Grand Rapids yet,  in 2012 the Federal Transit Administration’s Peter Rogoff predicted the BRT route would see “some 30,000 jobs in the central business district,” as it’s just one-quarter mile off the Silver Line’s route. Significant job impact is highly dependent on the type of development that’s generated.

Read more about the potential for transit oriented development, as well as a look into the added value of street cars in Grand Rapids here.

Where public transportation goes, community grows. What’s your vision for the Division Ave. corridor in five years due to the impact of the Silver Line?

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How Often Do You Show Gratitude For Your Driver?

Every day, bus drivers move our community. They ensure we get to work, appointments, the grocery store, and so much more. For hours on end they manage a schedule, check fares, give directions, all while maneuvering us safely through weather and traffic conditions. Being a transit driver isn’t an easy job, your driver just makes it look that way.

Transit Driver Appreciation DayOn Tuesday, March 18th, please join us in celebrating the contributions of our hardworking bus drivers for Transit Driver Appreciation Day. The way you show your gratitude is truly up to you. Whether you  smile and wave when you get on the bus or shout “thank you” as you leave, you’re sure to make your driver’s day. If you’re looking to go above and beyond, you can even print out and personalize a thank-you card for your favorite driver. You can even do your part to spread the word about Transit Driver Appreciation Day by sharing this post on your favorite social media platforms.

While this isn’t an official holiday yet, we’re happy to participate with a number of other transportation authorities across the nation to ensure it’s established as such. We think it’s a great way to honor the women and men who do their part to keep us moving every day.

Have you thanked your bus driver lately?

Posted in In The Community on

Let The Rapid Be Your Designated Driver

Catch A Sober Ride With The RapidFrom St. Patrick’s Day to March Madness or even just the much-needed temperature increase, there’s a lot to celebrate this spring. But there’s no excuse for drinking and driving. This is why we’ve teamed up with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning to spread the word about the spring drunk driving crackdown taking place in our community until April 7th. The campaign encourages people to make smarter decisions and catch a sober ride.

To spread the word about the cost of drunk driving — not just this spring, but all year long — we’re featuring signs in our buses: “A DUI costs you a lot of green. Catch a sober ride.” This is our way of reminding you to let us be your designated driver.

This spring drunk driving crackdown also has Kent County police agencies, including those in Grandville, Kentwood, Rockford, Wyoming and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, putting additional officers on local roadways. The Michigan State Police will also assist Grand Rapids officers.

You may be wondering why this crackdown is taking place. A five-year review of crash data indicates both alcohol use and lack of seat belts play a significant role in fatal and serious injury crashes in March and early April. This time period includes the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, high school and college spring break periods, and St. Patrick’s Day. 

“We believe in a safer community, and anything we can do to help local law enforcement have a better control of the situation, we’ll help — it’s better people make wise choices,” said Rapid CEO Peter Varga in an interview with the Grand Rapids Press.

We’re happy to be your designated driver this season and throughout the rest of the year.

Do you think public transportation is a crucial element in decreasing impaired driving in our community?

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Breaking The Record: 10.7 Billion Public Transportation Trips

12.5 Million Rides on The Rapid Public Transportation ServiceThe numbers are in and it’s safe to say 2013 was a fantastic year for public transportation. If you’re one of the many (and we really do mean many) people who rode a bus, train, trolleybus, or subway in the past year, then it’s time to celebrate.

Recently, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shared that at 10.7 billion trips reported in 2013, public transportation ridership has reached the highest level since 1956. This was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. While vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3 percent, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1 percent.

“Last year people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation.  As the highest annual ridership number since 1956, Americans in growing numbers want to have more public transit services in their communities,” said Peter Varga, APTA Chair and CEO of The Rapid. “Public transportation systems nationwide – in small, medium, and large communities – saw ridership increases. Some reported all-time high ridership numbers.”

Aside from our one-year ridership record, some of the other public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide or on specific lines were located in the following cities:  Ann Arbor, MI; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Espanola, NM; Flagstaff, AZ; Fort Myers, FL; and Indianapolis, IN.

To add some perspective, public transit ridership is up 37.2 percent since 1995, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3 percent, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 22.7 percent.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities. People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.

There are likely a number of factors in play when it comes to growing ridership across the nation. Economic recovery,  increasingly carless households, and the improvement in employment rates are all valid areas to note. In fact, 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes.

 Read the full press release from APTA to find the entire ridership report and other insight here.

What do you think are some of the major factors accounting for public transit ridership growth across the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Recommends $2.5 Billion To Expand Transit Options

Improving access to jobs and other opportunities starts with more transit options. On March 5, 2014, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx highlighted $2.5 billion recommended in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget to advance the construction or completion of 26 rail, bus rapid transit (BRT), and streetcar projects in 16 states. These projects will do far more than simply increase mobility options around the nation. They will also create or sustain thousands of good construction-related jobs, as well as helping communities expand transportation choices offering  new opportunities for hard-working  families.

MBTA Green LineSecretary Foxx pointed out that this step highlights the nation’s commitment to ensuring that every American has access to the ladders of opportunity that lead to success – and access to public transportation is essential to making that happen. Foxx also shared that President Obama’s bold vision for investment in 21st century transportation infrastructure doesn’t just remove barriers to success for millions of Americans, it also strengthens our nation’s economy today and in the future.

“Transit ridership across the United States is at its highest level in five decades, thanks in part to FTA’s successful partnerships with communities committed to expanding local transportation choices that help to revitalize neighborhoods, reduce congestion, and connect residents with jobs, education, health care, and other vital services,” said Deputy Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan. “We must continue investing, together, in our nation’s public transportation infrastructure, so future generations have the mobility they will need to succeed.”

Read the full press release from the Federal Transit Administration here.

Posted in News on

How Are Rapid Routes Designed?

Have you ever looked at our system map and wondered how we come up with new routes? You’re in luck! In this video, Rapid Senior Planner Kevin Wisselink shares some insight behind ideal route designs.

What other questions do you have about your routing or service in general? Leave us a comment!

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Welcome Aboard: What To Expect From Get On Board

Whether you’re a frequent rider, avid supporter, public transportation expert, or just curious about what’s going on at The Rapid, consider this blog the digital version of Rapid Central Station.

What To ExpectWelcome
Here at The Rapid, we’re dedicated to keeping you up to date on what’s going on both inside and outside of our organization. From the latest technology we’re utilizing to community, we want to make staying tuned into Rapid happenings easier and more convenient. This blog website acts as a long-form sister to Here you can find the latest news, direct insight from our Chief Executive Officer Peter Varga, community-focused stories, and events.

Your Voice Matters
We’re not here to do all of the talking. Conversation is powerful and we’re focused on generating chatter about our services, the community, and public transportation as a whole. We encourage you to post your thoughts, feedback, or insight in the “Leave A Comment” section of each post. Here you can engage with The Rapid staff and other readers.

We also want to hear your very own Rapid stories. Do you have a compelling story about how public transportation has impacted your life? What about a tale of finding your significant other or your favorite restaurant in town while riding with us? On the right side of our blog, you will find a link where you can submit a story of your own.

Do you want to know when we post something new? We’ll inform you if you decide to subscribe. Similar to our services, we hope you get on board regularly to stay up to date with us.

What types of information are you looking forward to learning about the most from us?

Posted in Rider Stories on

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.”

Posted in Rider Stories on

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.”