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Help Us Improve the Transit Experience

align-study-feedback-graphic

A better transit experience starts with you. Let’s align for better transit in our six-city service area and beyond.

The Align Transit Improvement Study is underway to identify, analyze and prioritize a set of transit improvements that can be made to the existing bus system to improve the overall transit experiences in Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities. This study will look for ways to add to and improve the network, recommend land use and other policies to help grow ridership and determine the improvements the public would like to see for the system. One of the most crucial aspects of this study is public feedback.

While The Rapid has helped connect thousands of people across our community for years, there’s always room for improvement. We want to provide you with a better transit experience—but we can’t do that without your input. It’s time to work together and align for a better future of public transit in our region.

The Align Transit Improvement Study feedback activity will allow you to provide feedback by prioritizing transit improvements, sharing details about the improvements you’re seeking and laying them out on a map. All of this will help us fine tune your feedback for a better transit experience for all.

Get Involved

Please share your ideas with us by visiting our MetroQuest feedback page.

MetroQuest survey page
Posted in Places to Go on

Ride The Rapid to D’arts Donuts

D'arts Donuts

Craving something out of the ordinary? Forget the typical glazed donut. D’arts Donuts in Eastown has a deliciously unique menu of donut options.

D’arts Donuts takes a homemade recipe passed from generation to generation and puts a spin on them with creations like the whiskey bacon, blueberry lemon, and Creamsicle donuts. Their donuts are made with whole ingredients and no preservatives from scratch every morning. Other menu options include breakfast and lunch sandwiches with the bread or bun replaced by a plain donut and poutine featuring hand cut fries. Yum!

If you’re craving something a bit different, ride Route 6 to visit D’arts Donuts!

Learn more about their menu at dartsdonuts.com.

Posted in Places to Go on

8 Places to Ride The Rapid to in September 2017

September in Grand Rapids

We may be saying goodbye to summer but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of fun things to do throughout Grand Rapids! This September, fill your calendar with a trip to the John Ball Zoo, the Downtown Market, Grand Rapids parks and so much more.

Get out and explore these events this month:

Movies in the Park

This outdoor movie event will be hosted in Heartside Park and feature Selena and The Bodyguard. Pre-movie entertainment kicks off at 6 p.m. with DJ SupreDre and Gabriella de la Vega of El Mundo Musical. If you come in a Selena look-a-like costume you will be entered to win a Selena by MAC makeup prize package! Don’t forget to wear warm clothing and bring a blanket or chair.

Route 2 can get you there but Heartside Park is located within walking distance from Rapid Central Station.

Monarch Day at John Ball Zoo

On Saturday, Sept. 9, spend the day celebrating the beauty of Monarch Butterflies at John Ball Zoo! From 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monarchs will be released on the hour for their migration south to Mexico for the winter. Learn more about this amazing journey by watching the public release of tagged Monarchs, enjoying crafts and finding out how you can help Monarch Butterflies. You can even release your own Monarch Butterfly for just $6. Purchase yours here.

Routes 12, 50 can get you there. Plan your trip.

Live Band Swing Dancing

Get out and dance every Tuesday at Rosa Parks Circle or Ah-Nab-Awen Park! Enjoy live music from Hark Up Horns and bring your dancing shoes. If you’ve never been swing dancing before, it’s worth a try! This event rotates park venues, so be sure to check the location here before attending.

Plan your trip.

Mexican Festival 2017

On Sept. 15 and 16, ride The Rapid to Heartside Park for this free event where you and your entire family can enjoy Mexican entertainment, food, artisan vendors and other activities. The Mexican Festival is celebrating the 47th anniversary and is the oldest ethnic festival in the City of Grand Rapids!

Route 2 can get you there but Heartside Park is located within walking distance from Rapid Central Station.

Calendar Girls by Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Cozy into fall with some comedy. Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is hitting the stage with this comedic play is set in England and is about a woman who puts together a pin-up calendar featuring her middle-aged garden club members. Calendar Girls opens Sept. 15 and runs until Oct. 1. Standard ticket prices range from $16-28. Get yours here.

Better yet, grab your girlfriends and make a special trip to the Women’s City Club for the Ladies Night Out special presentation of this play on Sept. 21. Get your tickets here.

Fall Bridal Show of West Michigan

Getting married soon? Head to DeVos Place on Sept. 22 and 23 to enjoy a wedding planning extravaganza all under one roof. This event includes fashion shows, bridal wear, tuxedos, floral, catering, venues and so much more.

Ride Routes 11, 50 and the Silver Line to get there.

Made In Michigan Pop-Up Marketplace at the Downtown Market

This is the perfect event for those seeking artisan gifts, local treats and just about any kind of Michigan-made good. If you’re a fan of Earth-friendly goods, this will be a special version of the pop-up market with loads of up-cycled, renewable, organic and eco-friendly goods. Visit the Downtown Market on Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. for this wonderful pop-up event. This is the last one of the season!

Ride Routes 1, 2, 5 or the Silver Line.

ArtPrize

Explore all that ArtPrize Nine has to offer by taking the bus! This world famous event lasts from Sept. 20 – Oct. 8. Enjoy 19 days of indulging in art, exploration of your surroundings and all that our wonderful city has to off. With nearly 200 venues throughout Grand Rapids, there’s no shortage of things to see and do.

Plan your trip.

Posted in News on

Aligning Transit for the Future

Align Regional Map

Public transportation is a vital part of Grand Rapids and its surrounding communities—whether you ride The Rapid daily, once in a while, or have yet to try public transportation. While The Rapid has helped connect thousands of people across our community for years, there’s always room for improvement. It’s time to work together and align for better public transit in Grand Rapids metro region.

The Align Transit Improvement Study is a new year-long project (beginning in June 2017) to identify, analyze and prioritize a set of transit improvements that can be made to the existing bus system to improve the overall transit experiences in Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities. This study will look for ways to add to and improve the network, recommend land use and other policies to help grow ridership and determine the improvements the public would like to see for the system.

“The Align Study is important to The Rapid because it will hone in on service enhancements that are desired by the community, ” said Conrad Venema, The Rapid’s Strategic Planning Manager.

With previous transit projects underway, the Align Transit Improvement Study will build upon the Silver Line and Laker Line bus rapid transit (BRT) systems to identify opportunities to advance and potentially expand transit service within the urbanized area.

“The Rapid realizes that as the community grows, it’s vital for our transit system to adapt to the changing needs of users.  The Align Study will help The Rapid achieve its goal of providing safe and equitable service that connects people to jobs, promotes economic development and offer a first- class transit experience,” Venema said.

With the help of the public, the Align Transit Improvement Study hopes to accomplish the following:

  • —   Enhance transit services that provide a competitive option to congested roadways

  • —   Provide safe and equitable access to The Rapid network

  • —   Service existing and future population and employment centers

  • —   Support urban revitalization and economic development

Learn more about the Align Transit Improvement Study here.

Posted in In The Community on

Eat Your Way Through Grand Rapids for Restaurant Week GR 2017

Restaurant Week GR 2017

If you’re looking for an excuse to get out and try new restaurants then Restaurant Week GR is for you.

This 11-day event hosted by Experience Grand Rapids is a celebration of exceptional local food in Grand Rapids. From Aug. 9 – 20, more than 70 restaurants throughout the city will put special, fixed-price menus for patrons to devour. Some restaurants are even offering lunch menus. For these, it’s $14 per person for a two-course meal. For dinner, a three-course meal comes in at $28 for either one person or two, depending on the restaurant. There’s a wide variety of menu options from participating restaurants, which means there’s no shortage of delicious meal items to choose from.

Dining for Restaurant Week GR does more than just support local restaurants. It also contributes to the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education Student Scholarship Fund at Grand Rapids Community College. Restaurants donate $1 from each meal sold to this fund!

The best part about Restaurant Week GR is the almost all of the participating dining locations are transit-friendly! View the full list of participants here and plan your trip to them by visiting ridetherapid.org.

Make your reservations now!

Posted in Rider Stories on

Rider Stories: Anthony Talks Smartphones, Local Businesses and Bikes on The Rapid

Central Station at Night

The following is written by Anthony Wilder Puzzuoli, a Grand Rapids citizen and Rapid rider. One of Anthony’s 2017 resolutions is to ride all of The Rapid’s routes. He’s sharing his experiences with us as he goes. You can find his first blog here.

DATA TROUBLE

I’ve owned a smartphone for a little over two years now. I can think of a lot of ways it’s made my life easier. I can also think of a lot of ways it’s made me less present in my daily life. It’s a constant internal struggle for me whether the smartphone is a positive or negative in my life and I’ve often debated going smartphone free. One way that it is most definitely a positive thing for me is in traveling. Being able to access maps and information about better routes and places to stop can make traveling easier and less stressful. Traveling by bus has been no exception.

Usually, by the time our monthly billing cycle is ending, my wife and I have run out of data (too much Spotify), and my smartphone is pretty useless as a way to quickly access the internet. The Rapid’s website is a great resource for routes and planning trips – if you can access it. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself sitting on the bus, trying to figure out when my stop was coming up or where to get off to transfer to another route and wishing I hadn’t let our road trip playlist run while we were at dinner for two hours. It’s only resulted in a bit of confusion and a few inefficient trips, but it’s made me realize how much I rely on a connection to the internet for basic things, not just music and looking up baseball scores. I also noticed that the schedule books that used to be on every bus were not available on any of the buses I was riding. With more things shifting to a digital format, maybe I’ll hold onto that smartphone for bit longer…

SO THAT’S WHERE YOU ARE…

I work at an organization in town called Local First. I’ve been there for close to four years now. Our organization works with around 900 different businesses in the West Michigan, the majority of which are located in the Grand Rapids. I wish I could say I’ve visited each of those businesses, but I haven’t. However, since I’ve been riding the bus, I’ve been seeing our member’s buildings and signs. It’s a small thing, I know, but like meeting someone you’ve been emailing and putting a face to a name, it strengthens the connection. Now when I send that email, process a payment or edit their directory listing, I’m able to visualize their place in our community, the place where they belong.

BIKES ON BOARD

One of my favorite features of the bus is the bike racks.  I bike a lot and use the bike racks frequently. However, the first time I used the bike rack, I was completely confused about how to operate it. I felt like an idiot. I also know I’m not the only one. On a recent ride, I witnessed another first-time bike rack user, equally confused, trying to get his bike on the rack while the bus operator beeped the horn and attempted to make helpful hand signals as to how to operate the rack. Eventually, a passenger got off the bus to assist. Fortunately, operating the bike rack is a lot like riding a bike, once you figure it out, you never forget.

Also, I’m always thinking about what happens when the bike racks are full and more people want to ride with their bikes. This has to happen right? Are those people just out of luck? Is it bad that I am hoping for this to happen every time I ride the bus?

Stay tuned for another blog from Anthony next month! 

Posted in Places to Go on

10 Destinations to Ride The Rapid to in August

Blue Bridge in Grand Rapids, MI

Make the most out of the last full month of summer by visiting events throughout Grand Rapids and Kentwood. This month is especially jam-packed with free and low-cost events for families looking to stick to their summer budget. Whether it’s heading to John Ball Park Zoo with your children or riding the bus to Calder Plaza for the Hispanic Festival, we hope to see you on board as we get you to these great August events.

You can purchase One-Day Passes or a 10-Ride ticket to get the most out of your bus travel this month. Don’t forget, children under 42 inches tall get to ride The Rapid for free.

Mark your calendars for these fun events:

First Friday Gallery Hops

Make your way to South Division Avenue on August 4 for First Fridays Gallery Hops from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Explore the avenue and discover artwork by local artists, handmade goods and wonderful food and drink specials. Save time and money by riding The Rapid.

The Silver Line and Routes 1, 3, 4, 6, 13, 14, and 15 can get you to Division Avenue.

WGVU Kid’s Day at the Zoo

Friday, August 4, Ride The Rapid to John Ball Zoo for fun for a family-friendly day at the zoo! It’s just $4.00 per person with a voucher, while kids one and under can enter for free. Vouchers are available at Meijer, Papa John’s, Kent District Library locations and Fox Honda. Kids Day takes place from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and activities and live entertainment take place throughout the day.

Route 12, 50 can get you there.

Movies in the Park

On Friday, August 4 and 18, visit Ah-Nab-Awen Park for  free, outdoor movie nights.

August’s movies include Selena and The Bodyguard on August 4 and Remember the Titans and Pitch Perfect on August 18. Free programming starts at 6 p.m. with DJ Adrian Butler and Gabriella de la Vega of WYCE’s El Mundo Musical. Local food vendors will also be available onsite.

Routes 7, 9 can get you there.

Restaurant Week Grand Rapids

Dig into local fare from August 9 – 20 for Restaurant Week GR. This is your opportunity to “Taste the City” and take advantage of specials from scores of local restaurants offering the price of just $28 per person for a 3-course dinner – or 2 dine for $28 at select locations. More than 60 participating restaurants are serving lunch – just $14 person for a 2-course meal. View participating restaurant menus and start planning your restaurant visits.

Plan your trip.

Celebrate Kentwood

Come celebrate Kentwood’s 50th anniversary from August 11-12. Taking place behind Kentwood City Hall, there will be food, inflatables for kids, carnival games, community booths, a beer garden, cultural acts  and live music including Mega 80’s! Saturday evening will end with a special 50th Anniversary fireworks show. View the full event schedule.

Route 2, 44 can get you there.

Ford After Five

Take a trip to Gerald R. Ford Museum for game night! Bring your own board game or use the museums. For just $2 for adults and free entry for children 12 and under, enjoy board games, explore museum exhibits and enjoy light snacks. This event takes place August 3 and 17. On August 31, visit the museum for a free night of jazz by The John Shea Quartet.

Ride Routes 7 and 9 to get there.

Vintage Street Market

Make your way to the Downtown Market on Sunday, August 13 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. to find your next vintage treasure. This monthly vintage market if your chance to get your hands on vintage clothing, home goods, decor and other items.

Routes 1, 2, 5 and the Silver Line can get you there.

Grand Jazz Fest

The sixth annual GRandJazzFest takes place on August 19 and 20 at Rosa Parks Circle in the heart of Grand Rapids. Enjoy performances from notable jazz musicians as well as up-and-coming artists for diverse audiences. No admission is required for this family-friendly event. All you’ll need is a blanket or folding chairs and some snacks. Check out who’s performing!

Routes 6, 9, 11, 13 and the Silver Line can get you there.

Hispanic Festival

Shop the Mercado, watch a futsal tournament, and so much more at the 40th annual Hispanic Festival will be taking place at Calder Plaza on August 25 through August 27. Mark your calendars for a chance to enjoy delicious food, great music and a mix of culture from different Latin American countries.

Routes 11, 13, 50 and the Silver Line can get you there.

WYCE’s GR Live

Every Thursday at noon, ride The Rapid to H.O.M.E. at The B.O.B. for GR Live broadcast live over the air on WYCE 88.1 FM. The show is hosted by Quinn Matthews and features live music from groups playing in Grand Rapids and interviews with people involved in our regional music community. Find out all about music events happening in and around the city while being able to relax and enjoy the performances. The event is free and you are encouraged to attend.

 Routes 1, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12 and other routes can get you there.

 

Posted in Places to Go on

Thrifty Thursday: Ride The Rapid to Jazz in the Park

Jazz in the Park

Summer may be half over but it’s not too late to hop on The Rapid and ride downtown to listen to jazz at Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

Every Monday, the West Michigan Jazz Society hosts Jazz in the Park from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Use this event at your weekly chance to get outside, relax and take in the music. Jazz in the Park is an all-ages event and is free to attend.

Here’s a line-up of performers playing for the rest of the summer:

July 31- Metro Jazz Voices

August 7 – Mary Rademacher & The Fred Knapp Quartet

August 14 – WMJS’s 2017 Musician of the Year, pianist and vocalist Dr. Robin Connell

For more information on performers, visit wmichjazz.org.

 

Posted in News on

The Rapid and City of Grand Rapids rolling out Michigan’s largest fleet of CNG buses

Rapid Compressed Natural Gas Bus

The Rapid and the City of Grand Rapids unveiled a new plan to roll out what will become Michigan’s largest fleet of environmentally friendly buses and that will soon be cruising the streets of Downtown and Greater Grand Rapids.

The new buses will be better than ever for the local environment by using compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel source instead of diesel. Bus riders will see 33 of the alternative fuel vehicles in 2017, including 28 in service for The Rapid on bus lines throughout Greater Grand Rapids and five for the City’s free DASH shuttle service in Downtown operated by The Rapid.

Plans call for The Rapid’s 150-vehicle fleet to include 92 CNG buses by 2021, which will make up Michigan’s largest system of natural gas-powered buses. The City plans to purchase an additional four CNG vehicles in 2018 for the DASH and replace its entire fleet of diesel-fueled DASH buses over the next three years.

“This investment demonstrates an important collaboration of innovative partners within our community, using the most sustainable, clean, cost-effective and safe products on the market for transportation solutions,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, who kicked off the announcement during a news conference at the city’s Sixth Street Bridge Park, where the new buses were on display.

“Through a strong partnership between the City and The Rapid, we can use these new vehicles to continue our efforts that improve the quality of the air we breathe and the environment we enjoy,” she said. “This plan also allows us to be even more efficient stewards of taxpayer dollars by reducing the cost of operations moving forward.”

Mayor Bliss was joined at the news conference by City of Walker Mayor Mark Huizenga; Grand Rapids Second Ward City Commissioners Ruth Kelly and Joe Jones; Michael Bulthuis, The Rapid’s Public Outreach Coordinator of Community Engagement; Mobile GR and Parking Manager Josh Naramore; DASH Program Manager Barbara Singleton; Mary Judnich, regional manager for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow; and Teresa Cuellar, regional coordinator for U.S. Senator Gary Peters.

“The citizens of Walker recognize and appreciate the importance of identifying innovative solutions that reduce energy consumption – we applaud The Rapid and the City for their accomplishment,” Mayor Huizenga said. “By reinvesting the cost savings into additional alternative energy technologies, we can help make our communities even healthier now and in the future.”

Over the five-year period, the transition to CNG buses will:

  • Reduce The Rapid and Mobile GR’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1 million metric tons over the use of diesel. CNG buses produce up to 20-30 percent fewer emissions than diesel-powered buses.
  • Pose no threat to land or water if a spill occurs as CNG is nontoxic.
  • Generate a combined total savings of $4.5 million because the cost of CNG is projected to remain about 60 percent ss than diesel.
  • Ensure access to an American-made fuel source with an abundant 100-year supply, diminishing Greater Grand Rapids’ reliance on foreign oil.

“We are very enthusiastic about this announcement because energy efficiency is a pillar of Grand Rapids’ sustainability strategies,” said Commissioner Jones. “The addition of these new CNG buses into The Rapid and City inventory will better provide for a green operating environment.”

In 2015, The Rapid board approved a $13 million contract funded entirely through federal and state grants to buy 28 40-foot-long CNG buses. The acquisition funds came from a $10.4 million Federal Transit Administration grant that was “proudly supported by both Michigan Sens. Stabenow and Gary Peters,” as well as a $2.6 million grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Judnich said.

The Grand Rapids City Commission approved the $2.3 million purchase of five 35-foot-long DASH CNG buses entirely with local funds. Both orders are through Gillig, a Livermore, Calif.-based manufacturer that is among the nation’s leading bus producers.

The Rapid is responsible for operating and maintaining the new CNG fleet. In 2016, The Rapid board also approved a $5.3 million contract with Walker-based Triangle Inc. to build a new facility at 1020 Market Ave. SW in Grand Rapids, about one mile southwest of The Rapid Central Station, that will fuel the transportation system’s fleet of CNG transit buses. The facility is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-August 2017.

The Rapid averages nearly 1 million rides every month and provides approximately 12 million rides annually. The system serves Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming, Grandville and Walker. Ridership on the DASH continues to grow and is around 30,000 riders a month and just under 400,000 rides annually.

“Using compressed natural gas to fuel our buses is a four-way winner – it’s clean, affordable, abundant and American-made,” said Commissioner Kelly. “The wise decisions made by The Rapid and Mobile GR boards have put Greater Grand Rapids in a position that is ideally suited to meet our area’s public transportation and environmental stewardship needs today and tomorrow.”

Posted in Events on

You’re Invited: The Rapid & Mobile GR Unveil Largest Fleet of CNG buses in Michigan

CNG invite

Greater Grand Rapids bus riders can expect to see 33 new alternative fuel, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles hitting the road this year. This includes 28 fixed-route vehicles and five DASH buses.

On Monday, July 24, The Rapid and Mobile GR are teaming up to unveil the largest fleet of compressed buses in Michigan. This upgrade reflects our system’s commitment to improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Greater Grand Rapids. CNG is a cleaner burning fuel source than diesel.

Over the five-year period, the transition to CNG buses will: Reduce The Rapid and Mobile GR greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1 million metric tons over the use of diesel; generate a total combined cost saving of $4.5 million because CNG costs nearly 60% less than diesel, and; ensure access to an American-made fuel source with an abundant 100-year supply, diminishing Greater Grand Rapids’ reliance on foreign oil.

Join The Rapid and Mobile GR at 6th Street Bridge Park on Monday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m. to come check out brand new CNG vehicles. There will be free ice cream for all attendees, as well as an appearance from Griff of the Grand Rapids Griffins!

Speakers at this event include Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss; Walker Mayor Mark Huizenga; Grand Rapids City Commissioners Ruth E. Kelly and Joseph D. Jones; representatives from The Rapid and Mobile GR.

Plan your trip to 6th Street Bridge Park on DASH or The Rapid.