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The Rapid reports increased services, success for Silver Line

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

The Rapid is working to provide more transportation options as our downtown grows.

About NPO Showcase

NPO Showcase highlights nonprofit and government organizations and the work that they're doing in our community. The program is a feature of GRTV, a service of the Community Media Center, with producer and host Julie Way. You can catch it on GRTV on Saturdays at 8 AM and 6 PM and can view past episodes on the Grand Rapids Community Media Center website. If your nonprofit would like to be interviewed on NPO Showcase, please contact Julie Way.

People Waiting at Bus Stops

People Waiting at Bus Stops /Erin Wilson

It’s been just over a year since The Rapid launched the Silver Line, Michigan’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The Silver Line connects area suburbs to Grand Rapids to help commuters get downtown quickly.

“The whole idea of BRT was to appeal to commuters as a group,” says Jennifer Kalczuk, External Relations Manager for The Rapid. “What we’ve learned is people are looking for alternatives. The Silver Line busses all have Wi-Fi access, so people can check their email, they can find time in their day that they may not otherwise have if they are driving a car.”

The Silver Line has seen a ridership of 675,000 in the first year, and it’s easy to see why. With dedicated lanes reserved for the buses during the morning and afternoon commutes, and technology that communicates with traffic lights to help with schedule adherence, it’s a very efficient ride.

“As the urban core and downtown starts to grow and intensify their land uses, we have to be smarter about mobility,” says Nick Monoyios, Long Range Planner and Project Manager for the Laker Line BRT for The Rapid. “People see the stations around town and start to feel transit is an option for them.”

The stations are equipped with lights and security cameras, emergency phones, and snow melt on the platforms. LED signs show real-time arrivals, and the columns blink green as the bus approaches. Many stations also have a bike rack.

“It’s really about giving people options. Some people choose to drive, and we need to have the facilities and infrastructure to do that. But the more we can spread that across multiple options and multiple modes, not only transit, but walking and biking as well…then everything works better together,” says Kalczuk.

The Silver Line also integrates with The Rapid’s existing routes. Fares are paid at the station to allow for quicker boarding, and fare officers do random compliance checks.

The Rapid’s fares just increased in October to $1.75, up from $1.50 for a single ride ticket. Fare includes the Silver Line and traditional routes, along with any needed transfers. This is the first increase in fares since 2008, and services have increased since that time to include more routes and later hours.

“There’s a lot of demand for even growing services,” says Monoyios.

The Laker Line is another BRT project that’s in the works for The Rapid. This project would change the existing route 50, which connects Grand Valley State University’s Allendale and Pew campuses, to a BRT system to help ease the commute for students. Right now, there are 10,000 to 12,000 riders per day on this route.

Meet Kalczuk and Monoyios and hear more updates from The Rapid in GRTV’s NPO Showcase interview above, or catch it airing on GRTV and LiveWire. You can also find more details on their website.

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