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12 Transit-Friendly Bars to Visit during March Madness

march-madness-2017

It’s time to get your March Madness brackets completed and round up your friends for some game-watching fun. The first day of the Men’s NCAA basketball tournament tips off on Tuesday, March 14!

Who can resist the friendly chaos of family and office pools, fandom, watching underdog teams rise to the top and the non-stop action of dozens of college basketball games? For those of us not lucky enough to score a seat at the tournament, there’s always the option of gathering your friends and heading to your local sport’s bar for good food and a drink, while supporting your teams! Even better, why not gather at a bar or restaurant that’s locally owned and operated? 

Let us be your designated driver during March Madness. Purchase a 10-Ride Card and we’ll do the driving to and from your favorite sports bar. Here’s our list of locally-owned, transit-friendly sports bars worth visiting:

Grand Rapids

Peppino’s Sports Grille
130 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids MI, 49503

Route 1, 2, 3, 6, 13

Farah’s
710 Michigan St NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Route 6, 13, 15

East Grand Rapids

Big Bob’s Pizza
661 Croswell Ave., East Grand Rapids, MI, 49506
Route 6

Derby Station
2237 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Route 6

Wyoming

Monelli’s Italian Grill & Sports Bar
5675 Byron Center Ave SW, Wyoming, MI 49519
Route 16

Frankie V’s Pizzeria
1420 28th St SW, Wyoming, MI 49509
Route 8, 16, 28

Grandville

Chicago Drive Pub & Grill
4050 Chicago Drive SW, Grandville MI 49418
Route 8, 24, 28

Osgood Brewing
4051 Chicago Drive SW, Grandville, MI 49418
Rout 8, 24, 28

Kentwood

616 Sports Bar & Grill
4514 Breton Rd SE, Kentwood, MI 49508
Route 2, 44

Uccello’s Ristorante
2630 E Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Route 5, 6, 17, 24, 28, 44

OK, while technically not in Kentwood, it’s a local option very nearby.

Walker

Walker Roadhouse
3272 Remembrance Rd NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Route 7

Lake Michigan Sports Bar
4072 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Route 7, 12 & 50

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January 2017 Bus Operator of the Month: Cindy. C

Cindy C. Bus Operator of the Month

Each month, we have the opportunity of honoring a Rapid Bus Operator who has gone above and beyond in their job to keep the community moving. These bus operators are nominated by their peers and awarded by the Transportation Department for their hard work and dedication.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bus Operator of January 2017: Cindy C.

How long have you worked at The Rapid?

I have worked for the Rapid since 2012.

What do you like best about your job as a bus operator at The Rapid?

Every day is different! I work with some of the most amazing co- workers and supervisors!

What are you passionate about?

My passions are my grandchildren James, Sophia, Addison and Scarlett. They truly make my heart happy❤️. Kev Owens is also my peace and happiness.

Congratulations, Cindy! Thank you for all you do.

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Thrifty Thursday: Ride The Rapid to Kent District Library

Grandville Public Library

Nothing beats a deal that lasts all year round. That’s why we love the Kent District Library. Get set up with Kent District Library Card and everything at the library is free!

Our partnership with FOX 17’s Smart Shopper typically highlights local businesses with unbeatable deals. Most don’t immediately consider their local library as a hotspot for great deals. However, the Kent District Library has a lot more than just books. You can rent comic books, movies, video games, iPads, game consoles and much more. In the summer, cardholders can even rent bikes and helmets. Aside from the diverse array of rental options, there is also events and programming for all ages going on every month. The best part: Events are always free to the public. There’s everything from an adult winter reading program to a root beer making class.

Ride The Rapid to your local Kent District Library location and get your library card today to get access to tons of freebies and access to awesome events. Six library branches are on Rapid routes. See locations and plan your trip.

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10 Events to Ride The Rapid to in March

Grand Rapids at night

Is your personal event calendar looking a bit sparse this March? No problem. We have the perfect list of events to keep you busy all month long! Whether it’s enjoying delicious craft brews and food specials in honor of Beer Month GR or taking in a Grand Rapids Civic Theatre Production, Grand Rapids and the surrounding cities are dishing out a variety of activities to love this month.

Purchase a 10-Ride Ticket for just $13.50 and ride with us to these awesome events:

1. Beer Month GR

From Feb. 15 -March 15, Experience Grand Rapids is highlighting our city’s love of craft beer with a month-long celebration. The Rapid to check out local restaurant specials for Cool Brews. Hot Eats., Founders KBS Week tap takeovers and more. There’s something for every beer lover to indulge in during Beer Month GR. Don’t forget your Beer City Brewsader® Passport!

Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 + can get you there.

2. West Michigan Home and Garden Show

Spring is just around the corner. Ride the Silver Line directly to DeVos Place to get a kickstart on the 2017 gardening season with the West Michigan Home and Garden Show. On March 2 – 5, don’t miss a variety of seminars, feature gardens, an art market and more — all under one roof! Single-day and multi-day tickets are available with prices ranging from $10 to $18. Admission for children 6-14 is $4 and children 5 and under get in for free. 

Routes SL, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

3. SPACE: A Journey to Our Future

Throughout March, visit the Gerald R. Ford Museum to experience the past, present and future of space exploration. The “SPACE: A Journey to Our Future” exhibition will immerse you in the discoveries of the past and introduce you to today’s explorers who are shaping our destiny in the universe. Admission to the Gerald R. Ford Museum is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and military and $ for children ages 6-18. Children under 5 get in for free.

Route 7, 9, 19 can get you there.

4. Ragtime

Take in a bit of history and music this month. Based on the 1975 Doctorow novel, Ragtime is a story of the American Experience. Set at the birth of the 20th century, this is a story of how our country, and those who immigrated here, share the same hopes and dreams while struggling with class and racial divides. Watch history come to life in this beautifully sung story. Ragtime is running at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre until March 19. Individual tickets cost $18- $37.

Route 1, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15 can get you there.

5. Taste of Kentwood

Kentwood is celebrating 50 years as a city. Come out on March 2 to the Kentwood Activities Center at 355 48th Street to enjoy a Taste of Kentwood. Tickets cost $5 and allow you access to samples of fare from 15 local restaurants. Some of the restaurants providing samples at this delicious fundraiser for the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department include Zoup!, Boardwalk Subs and Russo’s. Come hungry!

Route 1 & 44 can get you there.

6. Blandford Nature Center Family Events

March 4, 11 & 18

March is the perfect month to explore all that Blandford Nature Center has to offer. On March 18, ride Route 7 to Blandford for the 47th annual Sugarbush Festival. There you can learn the process of maple sugaring through Sugarbush demonstrations with hands-on tree tapping, as well as enjoying games, wildlife encounters, treats and much more. If you can’t make it to the festival, join the Sugarbush tours on March 4 and 11 to get a glimpse at Native American, pioneer and modern methods of maple syrup production. Learn more about pricing for events at blandfordnaturecenter.org.

Route 7 can get you there.

7. West Michigan Women’s Expo

Ride with us to DeVos Place from March 10 – 12 to discover the newest trends and women’s products and services. This expo has everything from health and wellness to hairstyling and painting workshops. Grab your mom, daughter or friend and spend the day shopping, learning and enjoy all the expo has to offer. Tickets are $10 in advance.

Routes SL, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

8. LaughFest

Get ready to laugh from March 9 – 19! Gilda’s LaughFest, the nation’s first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, includes comedic events throughout West Michigan. Created by Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and launched in March 2011 to celebrate laughter for the health of it, the festival features stand-up, improv, film, showcases, and a variety of seriously funny stuff. There’s something to put a smile on everyone’s face.

 Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5+ can get you there.

9. Ultimate Sport Show Grand Rapids

Love the great outdoors? The Ultimate Sport Show is for you. Exhibitors will be displaying the latest in outdoor gear, travel information and fishing boats. You’ll be able to check out world-class taxidermy, woodcarvers, fishing simulators and nearly 100 fishing and hunting seminars taking place on 5 stages. From March 16 – 19, catch a ride to DeVos Place for this event. Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children 6-14 and free for children 5 and under. 
Routes SL, 11, 13, 50 can get you there.

10. Taste of the West Side 2017

On March 29, celebrate the spirit West Side with food, craft brews, wine and auction items. This is a charitable event to help raise funds for Steepletown Neighborhood Services. The goal of this event is to encourage West Side neighbors to participate in the pursuit of creating, developing and furthering the development of a stronger community. This event takes place at the Goei Center. Learn more about ticket pricing

Route 18 can get you there.

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Thrifty Thursday: Ride The Rapid to Ferris Coffee and Nut Company

Ferris Coffee Pour Over

For many, coffee is considered a morning staple. But at Ferris Coffee and Nut Co., the owners and employees know that coffee is more than just a beverage, it’s an experience.

Ferris Coffee and Nut Company was established in Michigan in 1924. For nearly 100 years, they’ve been brewing specialty coffee and gourmet nuts. Their inventory boasts more than 150 varieties of specialty coffees, gourmet roasted nuts, chocolates, candies and trail mixes. Ferris works to provide the community with the finest plant-grown products, allowing coffee lovers to experience new flavors from all around the world.

Baristas at Ferris say the best way to experience their coffee is with their pour over brews, where hot water is poured over coffee grounds to create one cup of coffee. If you’ve never tried a pour-over, your taste buds are missing out. While this is a lengthier process of making coffee, it brings out more flavor from the coffee grounds so each cup of coffee will taste slightly different from the last.

Thrifty Thursday Deal

We’ve partnered with FOX17 and Ferris Coffee and Nut Co. to bring you a Thrifty Thursday special that’s perfect for autumn.Ferris enjoys encouraging coffee lovers to try new brews. One way to expand your coffee palette is to stop by every Thursday to try a $3 pour-over brew. This gives you a chance to branch out without hurting your coffee budget!

Ferris Coffee and Nuts Company has locations at 227 Winter Avenue Northwest and 40 Pearl Street Northwest in downtown Grand Rapids. Plan your trip on The Rapid by visiting ridetherapid.org.

 

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Enjoy Cold Brews During Beer Month GR

Craft Beer

For most living in or around Grand Rapids, every month feels like “beer month.” With more than 60 craft breweries within 60 minutes of downtown, it’s no wonder we’ve been crowned Beer City, USA. This month, Experience Grand Rapids is making loving Grand Rapids brews a bit more official by launching a month-long celebration for in honor of craft beer. From Feb. 15 through March 15, ride The Rapid to check out local restaurant specials, Founders KBS Week and more. There’s something for every beer lover to indulge in for the next month!

Cool Brews. Hot Eats.

Aside from beer, Grand Rapids is a wonderful destination for foodies. During Cool Brews Hot eats (Feb. 15 – March 15), experience the best of both worlds with amazing food and beer pairing specials at participating restaurants. View the full list of participating restaurants to discover mouthwatering specials here. Highlights include:

Terra GR‘s offering of Red Eye biscuits & gravy featuring housemade rosemary & sage drop biscuits, red eye stout gravy, peas, cheddar, and chopped hard-boiled egg for $10.
One Trick Pony’s Grilled Short’s The Magician poleman and cheddar beer sausage with haystack onions, shredded pickle, The Magician cheddar beer cheese, shaved jalapeño, house fried sriracha chips. Served on a Nantucket Bakery pretzel roll for $12
Atwater Brewery’s offering of a Dirty Blonde infused beet salad with golden and red beets, carrots, arugula, goat cheese, toasted sunflower seeds, Asian vinaigrette for $8.

Tap Takeovers

Beer Month GR is the perfect time for your favorite breweries, bars and restaurants to announce tap takeovers. These events, which typically aren’t announced until right beforehand, are a chance to check out uncommon craft beer favorites, often in limited quantities. A good way to keep up with potential tap takeovers is to follow your favorite breweries through social media. This will give you a chance to find out where to head to see what’s being tapped.

The beer experts at Experience Grand Rapids pointed out a few places to keep an eye on during this time of the year: HopCatGraydon’s Crossing, Horrocks Market Tavern (a taproom in a grocery store, seriously), Logan’s Alley, Monelli’s, Reservoir Lounge, The Score Restaurant & Sports Bar (128 beers on tap), Slows Bar BQ and SpeakEZ Lounge.

KBS Week

Founders Brewing Co. is hosting the fourth annual KBS week, March 6-11, in honor of the release of Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) this year. If you’re unfamiliar with this renowned brew, KBS is an imperial stout brewed with coffee and chocolates that ages in oak bourbon barrels for a year in the caves beneath Grand Rapids. It’s been ranked as one of the best beers in the world. KBS Week is your chance to taste it for yourself! There are KBS tappings hosted all over the city. For full KBS Week details, head to kbsweek.com.

Beer City Brewsader® Passport

For those committed to exploring breweries throughout Grand Rapids, don’t forget your Beer City Brewsader® Passport! It’s free and available at every brewery in the city.

This pocket-sized guide will navigate your travels to all 32 breweries in (or within an affordable ride-share trip from) Grand Rapids. Your mission: Enjoy a beer at a minimum of eight breweries, get your passport stamped by said breweries, and redeem your passport to claim a free Brewsader® T-shirt. Think eight is an easy get? Become an Ultimate Brewsader® by collecting a stamp from visiting all 32, and earn a wallet card as proof to flash for exclusive deals and discounts.

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Outstanding Rapid Employees of 2016

Employees of the year 2016

At the beginning of each year, we gather to acknowledge the outstanding work of three types of Rapid employees who have excelled at their work. We recognize the year’s most exceptional administrative employee, technician and bus operator. This year, we’d like you to get to know The Rapid’s 2016 Employees of the Year a bit better.

Administrative Employee of the Year

Lauren D., Benefits Administrator

How many years have you been at The Rapid?
8 years.

Tell us about your career path at The Rapid?
I started in 2009 as a part-time Human Resources Assistant and was in that position until 2012. I was the Recruiter from 2012 – 2015 and became the Benefits
Administrator in October 2015, which is my current role.

What do you love most about your job?
Working with all employees of The Rapid, especially the HR team I work with and the family friendly environment.

Technician of the Year

Tim S., Technician

How many years have you been at The Rapid?
22 years.

You’ve seen a lot of changes during your time here. What has been the best one?
When air conditioning was installed in the garage.

What do you love most about your job?
The people I get to work with.

Bus Operator of the Year

Sherry B., Bus Operator

How many years have you been at The Rapid?
9 years.

What are some other notable achievements you’ve had at The Rapid?
I’ve had no preventable accidents or founded customer complaints during my time at The Rapid.

What do you love most about your job?
I love the driving. I like to be out and about and not stuck in an office environment. Meeting new people helps to make it a really fun job, as well.

Congratulations to Lauren, Tim and Sherry! We’re so grateful to have you as a part of our team.

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Enjoy a Snow Day in Downtown Grand Rapids

Valent-ice

It’s time to get out and take advantage of Michigan’s cold climate and have some fun while doing it!

Ice sculptures, Human Hungry Hungry Hippos, and a giant ice bar are just a few exciting things taking place in downtown Grand Rapids in the days to come. Snow Days, a five-day winter festival sponsored by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and partners, kicks off on Feb. 10.

Snow Days comprises three distinct free- and low-cost events that each feature a wide variety of activities for both families and adults:

Valent-Ice

Valent-ICE, organized around Valentine’s Day, celebrates love and winter in Downtown. Among other activities the event features:

– 50+ unique sculptures that turn Downtown GR into a gallery of ice art. The sculptures total 17 tons of ice and include a life-sized Muhammad Ali, a space shuttle and a 5,000 lb sculpture determined by community voting which runs January 18-25.

– Walking and running tours

– Live ice-carving events

– Games and special libations served at the Downtown Market’s special Ice Bar.

Rail Jam

Rail Jam is a ski and snowboard competition takes place on Feb. 11 at noon in Ah-Nab-Awen Park. Snowboarders and skiers will compete for $1,000 in the free competition by AGA Nation. Visitors can also enjoy live ice-carving demonstrations, sledding and games. Don’t forget to visit the warming tent and food trucks at this event.

Humane Hungry Hungry Hippos

On Sunday, Feb. 12, the classic board game comes to life with the The Human Hungry Hungry Hippos tournament. This game features real people munching marbles on the ice at Rosa Parks Circle in the spirit of the classic tabletop game. The game is currently sold out, but you will want to get there before noon to get a good spot to watch the fun.

Ice Skating

On Monday, Rosa Parks Circle will host free ice skating from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. While admission is also buy one, get one free on Valentine’s Day.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. organizes Snow Days in partnership with community partners, local businesses and sponsors, including Ice Brigade, AGA Nation, AHC+ Hospitality, Craig’s Cruisers, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, WOOD TV 8 and the City of Grand Rapids.

Plan your trip today!

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Transit-Friendly Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day 2017

Mass Transit Valentine

Every romantic’s favorite holiday is just around the corner. Candy, roses and dinner is the standard for many on Feb. 14. But why not set your Valentine’s Day apart from the rest this year? We want to help you plan something a bit out of the ordinary for your special someone.

We put together a list of unique and sweet ideas to surprise your favorite person with. The best part? You don’t need to drive to get to them. This means you get to enjoy a cozy and convenient ride on The Rapid, which will give you more time to talk and less time to worry about driving and parking. Plan your trip in advance and Grab your bus pass and get on board with your sweetheart.

Here are a few noteworthy Valentine’s Day date ideas that are both budget-friendly and public transit accessible.

Catch a Movie

If you’re not loving the normal box office offerings, plan a date to Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts Movie Theater. There you’ll have access to independent, foreign and documentary movies every week, Tuesday through Sunday. If you want to delay your Valentine’s celebrating for a day, you can check out local cinematic talent at the theater’s annual Open Projector Night on the 15th from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Thinking of doing dinner before? If you bring your UICA movie receipt to favorite local restaurants like Osteria Rossa, Stella’s Lounge, Grove and San Chez, you can take advantage of discounts through the UICA’s dinner and a movie program.

Explore a Winter WonderlandSnow Days

Grand Rapids’ very own winter ice festival takes place from Feb. 9 – 14. Ride the bus to downtown Grand Rapids to enjoy the state’s largest ice bar, a 5,000lb community voted sculpture and 50+ ice sculptures dispersed downtown. You and your special someone can take part in walking and running tours, live ice-carving, games and even special libation served at the Downtown Market’s Ice Bar.

This multi-day event is jam-packed with so much to do and see. It’s the perfect excuse to get out and enjoy the cold. See the full schedule to plan your date.

Make it Brunch Instead

Valentine’s Day dinner is a February 14th staple. This means that if you haven’t put in a reservation somewhere yet, there’s a chance you’re probably not getting in. So, why not 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:

Matchbox Diner — Ride Routes 5 & 6 to get there.

Real Food Cafe on EasternRoutes 4 & 28 can get you there.

Anna’s House — Visit the East Beltline Avenue location by riding Routes 5, 6, 24, and 28.

Spend a Day at the Museum

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to explore a museum with your significant other. If you have children, you can also bring them along for the ride.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a wide variety of exhibits on display. You can also celebrate Valentine’s Day a bit early by purchasing tickets for the Feb. 9th Concerts Under the Stars event featuring chamber funk by Jamga in the Chaffee Planetarium. Tickets are $12 before the concert and $15 the day of.

If art is more your style, make it an all-day, visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum for a day of exploration and hands-on fun. February’s exhibits include Finders Keepers: West Michigan Collects, Leo Zulueta: Black Waves and Prints and Processes. From 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., stop by the Drop-In Studio to craft your own puzzle.

Volunteer

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 interested in getting started, there are 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 RapidConnect Trip Planner to ensure that the destination and timing of your volunteer opportunity works for bus travel.

Take a Brewery Tour

Since you won’t be driving, consider checking out local breweries in this beer-loving city. And while you’re there, why not take a behind-the-scenes tour? You’ll be able to try different beers, enjoy a variety of food, and still travel the city safely.

You can even plan your own Valentine’s Day beer tour by looking at the breweries throughout the city and checking out the Rapid system map. Currently, Route 6 has the most breweries located just steps away from bus stops. 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?

Go Ice Skating

Bundle up and catch a ride with us to enjoy ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle with your Valentine. Admission is $1 for those ages 17 and under and $2 for 18 and over. Need skates? Your ice skate rental fee is covered with admission. View daily ice skating hours here. You can also end the day with a romantic dinner.

Happy Valentine’s Day from your friends at The Rapid!

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The Rapid on The WGVU Morning Show: Connecting to Entertainment throughout Grand Rapids

GRNOW

How do you find out what’s fun, fresh and relevant in and around Grand Rapids? GRNow is the perfect way to stay up to date on local events and entertainment throughout Grand Rapids and the metro area.

Every month we join Shelley Irwin on the WGVU Morning Show to talk transit. On Jan. 23, Michael Bulthuis, The Rapid’s Public Outreach Coordinator, joined Irwin with CJ DeVries of GRNow to get the scoop on events to come in February. From Valent-ICE to the opening of 20 Monroe Live, there’s so much to see and do this month!

Listen to our segment and learn more about events and entertainment taking place this month, as well as the exciting improvements coming to GRNow.

WGVU