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[EASTOWN] The Bus Stops Here

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

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/Lee Hardy

It happens every 30 minutes. Retirees, professionals and school children get on board and get to where they’re going for pocket change using one of the most unsung rides on the road: the city bus. The Rapid, as it’s called in the Grand Rapids metro area, passes through our neighborhood via Routes 5 and 6, where it stops to pick up Eastowners bound for downtown destinations including the Van Andel Arena and Grand Rapids Community College and shoppers headed to Woodland Mall and elsewhere on 28th Street.

The Rapid also links people from other parts of the Grand Rapids metro area— including Kentwood, Grandville, Wyoming and Walker—to Eastown restaurants, shops and nightlife. A recent article in The Rapid Reporter, the Rapid’s online newsletter, spotlighted Eastown’s attractions, calling our neighborhood “easy, eclectic, and entertaining” and reporting that “Eastown is like no other.”

Ridership is on the rise. According to the Rapid, bus riding in Greater Grand Rapids is growing at a rate that far exceeds national averages. Rapid External Relations Manager Jennifer Kalczuk said that in 2008 the Rapid provided more than 9 million rides—an 11% increase from 2007. This is the fourth record-breaking year in a row.

Fares are more than fair. A bus ride to almost anywhere in the area costs an adult $1.50. Seniors and disabled people get a ride for $0.75 and children under 42 inches tall ride free with a fare-paying adult. Get a better deal with a 10-ride farecard or 31-day unlimited ride pass. You can purchase most fare and ticket types right on the bus—and get all the others at Rapid Central Station downtown, or online at

If you’ve considered riding the bus but don’t want to figure out how transfers work while others are waiting on you at the stop, you’ll be glad to know that the Rapid’s website has detailed instructions. You can also call 776-1100 to get answers to your questions—and personalized trip planning.

While bus riding is easy on you (ever wished you could read on your way to work?), it’s also easy on the environment. According to the American Public Transportation Association, a single person can save 4,800 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions by taking public transportation instead of driving a car for a year. The Rapid website also offers a carpool-matching service, which has grown in popularity over the past year. The Rapid’s fleet includes five hybrid-electric busses and its Central Station is the first LEED-certified bus station in the country.

In 2012, the Rapid plans to launch the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a high-speed bussing option with benefits similar to a speedy rail system: a dedicated lane during peak traffic times, stops with station-like accommodations, and pay-before-you-board convenience.

So, where do you want to go? In 30 minutes or less, your ride will be ready, just a short walk away from anyplace in Eastown.

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I appreciate the clever title. And it's a good, informative article.

I didn't realize The Rapid's ridership was growing so quickly. Very impressive at higher than the national average!

Even so, they won't get my bus fare till the whole system improves. Most routes drain into one central location for transfers right now that I never consider The Rapid as an option when I need to get from one place to another.

Sounds like Eastown is perfectly situated, though. I'm jealous!

While the Central Station hub serves as a consolidated transfer point, you may be able to "jump" a route, shorten your travel time and avoid coming to the Central Station for your transfer. 


As you get further from downtown the options are more limited but I know from experience that routes 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13 and 14 all either intersect with other routes or are accessible by a short walk.  Give it a shot!

i love it.  great news that ridership is improving at such a high rate.  hope this brings more routes in the future