Rapid bus fare enforcement sparks discussion online


Aubree L Wagner

GVL / Aubree Wagner

Lauren Formosa, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University students riding the Rapid’s Route 50, which connects the Allendale and Grand Rapids campuses, have voiced concern on social media regarding enforcement from The Rapid’s Fare Enforcement Officers.

Route 50 or the Laker Line, which is operated by The Rapid, requires students to show their GVSU student IDs to The Rapid’s Fare Enforcement Officers (FEOs) in order to ride the bus route. The student ID acts as a valid bus pass and a form of payment for the bus fare, which would otherwise have to be paid beforehand. 

This is the standard for how Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) works across the country,” said Bill Kirk, communications manager for The Rapid. “This standard policy creates equitable regulations and expectations for all Rapid riders, and it is critically important to treat all riders equally, whether they are GVSU students or members of the public.” 

This is not a new policy for the Laker Line or other bus routes run by The Rapid, as some students may have suspected. Since The Rapid began its partnership with GVSU, their standard policy of ensuring all passengers have a form of valid payment has been in place. 

The policy may be more noticeable recently due to the fact that more students are riding, including new students that may be unfamiliar with The Rapid’s transit service,” said Kirk.

Nevertheless, students have expressed their frustration with the policy and its enforcement on social media. While it has been met with understanding from the majority of the campus community, some students feel it was not communicated to them well enough.

“I think that the Laker Line requiring students to have IDS is understandable and a good way to ensure that unwanted guests are not present,” said GVSU student Shay Gilland. “The issue I have is not letting anyone know about this policy until they are on the bus.”

Another concern for students is the fact that they may not have their GVSU ID on hand at all times. On Facebook, one user said they sometimes forget their IDs at home or don’t think to carry their wallet to their class on Pew Campus. If a student is running late to their downtown class they worry that forgetting their ID could add more stress to an already stressful situation.

“I think some students do not agree with this policy simply because no one was made aware of it. Some students may even think that it is a waste of time and it is inconvenient if you were to forget your ID,” said Gilland

The Rapid’s fare enforcement policy states that a warning will be issued on the first incident, after which a civil infraction penalty would be issued on a first, second or third following offense. Fines start at $65 and end at  $250, plus court fees. In addition, anyone who refuses to cooperate with the FEO will be removed from the bus.

As time progresses into the fall semester, The Rapid is hopeful that GVSU students will be able to adjust to showing their IDs when riding the Laker Line.     

We do apologize for any inconvenience that presenting an ID may cause, and we’re grateful for students’ patience and understanding as we all work to readjust to a new semester as the pandemic continues,” said Kirk. “I simply ask to keep in mind that the FEOs on the Laker Line are good people that are just trying to do their job, and to please treat them the way they would like to be treated.”

The GVSU student ID acts as a valid bus pass for any other route on The Rapid’s system and will need to be presented in order to board any Rapid bus.