Bus millage passes, Route 50 to extend to Central Station

Courtesy Photo / narprail.org
The Rapids Central Station, located in the heart of Grand Rapids

Courtesy Photo / narprail.org The Rapid’s Central Station, located in the heart of Grand Rapids

Anya Zentmeyer

After Grand Rapids voters approved a property tax increase for the Rapid bus system

17,284 to 17,148 – a close 136 votes – the Rapid millage will spend the next five years raising $3.7 million per year to give the bus system a face lift.

Grand Valley State University commuter students with reap some of the benefits as well, with services that will extend Route 50’s Campus Connector past Pew Campus to the Rapid Transit Center, said Erin Babson, operational manager for Pew Campus Facilities.

“This allows anyone that lives within the six cities served by the Rapid to take any route in the city to the Transit Center and make an easy transfer directly to the GVSU lines,” Babson said. “It allows our students to make the transfer out to these six cities as well where they can connect to businesses, train stations, the airport, restaurants, jobs, museums, etc.”

Babson said to ensure the frequency of buses is not affect negatively, the millage allows the addition of two buses onto GVSU routes, and since there is usually an 18-month wait for the creation of new buses, the enhancement is not anticipated until fall of 2012.

“It really improves access to the other routes in the system—which means improved access to jobs, housing, and entertainment throughout the metro area,” said Jennifer Kalczuk, spokesperson for The Rapid.

Kalczuk said that some of the fixed-route service improvements will start in January 2010 with the remainder implemented in August 2012. She added that the BRT line on Division is still dependent on the federal process for implementation. She said the other routes that serve GVSU are operated under The Rapid’s contract with GVSU and will not be affected by the millage.

Commuter student Kurt VonEhr said he relies on The Rapid for school, jobs and his social life.

“With the price of gas so high, using public transport is saving a lot of money for myself and others,” VonEhr said.

A former resident of Easttown in Grand Rapids, VonEhr said commuting in winter months were difficult since The Rapid’s Route 6 only takes passengers two-thirds of the way to the Pew Campus. Now, he said, his expects his travels to be much easier.

“It’s too bad that we will have to wait a year and a half for the changes to take place,” VonEhr said.

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