Rapid bus system makes Route 50 changes

Sanda Vazgec

Most students at Grand Valley State University rely on The Rapid bus system to get to and from class. This year, the transportation system has undergone a few changes in partnership with the university.

The most prominent changes come with Route 50, the GVSU campus connector. With a new route direction and different stops, it continues to carry the highest ridership among all routes serving the university.

Last year, Route 50 totaled an annual ridership of 1.3 million. In comparison, Route 37 and Route 48 ended the fiscal year at ridership totals of 456,220 and 646,833, respectively. With an increase in student enrollment this year, GVSU administrators decided to implement changes to better serve the community.

Chris Swank, Pew Campus operations manager, said all changes were made with the students’ needs and safety in mind.

“GVSU recommended the stop changes to The Rapid for multiple reasons,” Swank said. “Downtown, they were made to help with parking congestion, also accessibility and safety concerns with lighting under (interstate highway) 131. We chose to reinstate the stop at the Walker Fire Station to provide an alternate park-and-ride.”

GVSU has a long-standing partnership with The Rapid spanning almost 20 years. The university has invested over $2 million into the transportation system, which allows all GVSU students to ride any route free of charge with their student I.D.

However, this service for students does not come without some concern.

Shila Keinath, a GVSU senior, said the new Route 50 stops have caused some inconvenience to her commute.

“The new stops have caused the buses to get clogged up together,” Keinath said. “It’s super inconvenient and unnecessary to have three or four buses come to a stop right after each other, they’re not running consistently.”

The concern of congested routes is not a surprise to GVSU or The Rapid, as this is a common issue at the beginning of a new school year.

“It’s not unusual to have some issues at the beginning of a new school year as students are developing their travel patterns,” Swank said. “New students have to get acclimated to using the bus and returning students have to figure out how the schedule works with their new classes. After a few weeks, people settle into a routine, which allows everything to run more smoothly. “

With over 9,000 students riding the buses everyday, Swank said The Rapid runs 20 buses during peak hours to help ensure a more consistent flow. The buses are scheduled to arrive at each stop every six to 10 minutes during the weekdays.

GVSU conducts a survey each year for students to voice their concerns and opinions about the transportation system. The university then analyzes the data and meets with The Rapid to address the concerns and make necessary changes.

There have been many changes to the GVSU bus routes throughout the years and future changes are inevitable due to the area’s growing population. Both GVSU and The Rapid emphasize the importance of survey participation to ensure all modifications are made consciously.