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The Rapid should make it easy for people to get their change back

I take The Rapid everyday to and from City Middle High School. I should not have to worry about not getting my money back as cash if my bus card does not work.
A Rapid bus at Central Station in Grand Rapids

A Rapid bus at Central Station in Grand Rapids /Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard

Underwriting support from:
Central Station for The Rapid in Grand Rapids

Central Station for The Rapid in Grand Rapids /Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard

I got on the bus to get home from high school. I take The Rapid everyday to and from City Middle High School. The bus got to the stop at Plainfield and Knapps at 3:04 so my friends get on the bus and then I got on. I put my student 10-ride bus pass into the machine, but it said misread so I put it in again and the same thing happened. I tried this three more times and got the same result. By that time, the bus had started to move and I had to use my siblings’ $10.

I was saving the money for them, but had to use it in order to pay for the bus. I had no other choice; I couldn’t go back to the school and get a new pass and the bus was already going down the road. Now, I knew I was going to get a change card, but what I didn’t know is that I couldn’t exchange the change card for money.

What I am saying is, “Why should I worry about not being able to get on the bus again if the pass doesn’t work?” Luckily, I had the $10 on me, but what if I didn’t, what would I do?

What if this happened to another student and they had no money?

After this whole problem I went down to Central Station that same day to fix the issue. They gave me a new pass, but they also told me the driver should have signed the card since they know some student bus passes don’t always work.

Now, the bus driver had done nothing and told me nothing. If The Rapid knew that some student bus passes didn’t work, why not just fix them instead?

And another question, are student bus passes the only bus passes that don’t always work? Because if so, there could be a bigger problem than just some students not being able to get on. Every person or student would then have this problem.

Let's imagine a student is going to stay after school for the big football game so his parents gave him money for food and the entrance. His parents drop him off at the bus stop and have to go back to his sibling. The bus is coming and the student gets on, but then has the same problem I did, but he doesn’t want to use the $5 dollars to ride the bus. Now, he has to wait for his parents to pick him up after the game is over, but he can’t see the game or get food.

Here also is another problem, he had no idea he wasn’t going to get cash back. There is no way of telling riders. It is not on the machine; it is not at the bus stop where it would be a great place to put it.

I just think the rules should be put in multiple spaces where people can see them.

Now, I was able to eventually get my money back, but it was such a long process since they aren’t supposed to give money back. First, I went with my mom to a Rapid board meeting to make them aware of my problem. Then they told me that they would look into it. After a week or so they called my mom and told her I could get my money back. So then I had to bring identification to Central Station after school to finally get my money back.

You could be saying “What about the website, why didn’t they just check there?” Well, not everyone has internet available to them, so this then would be a surprise to them.

I think that The Rapid probably did this to get more consumers and keep the ones it already has because that money is now useless to anything but the bus. The Rapid is a monopoly, so there is no way it would lose its consumers if it gave them back their change. You are not going to see some student ride a taxi everyday to school because that could get expensive.

People rely on the bus since it is cheap and efficient, but not giving us our change back doesn't help. And it just makes it worse on The Rapid because not only does it have more people complaining, but it could lose its customers at the same time.

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