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Rapid bus system receives national acclaim

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Grand Rapid’s busing system, The Rapid, was recently named “The Most Outstanding Mid-Sized Transportation System” in North America for 2013.

Many students, however, are not fully aware of the benefits that this nationally-recognized busing system brings, including not needing to find parking or worrying about getting separated from a caravan of friends’ cars.

Between classes, friends and homework it might prove to be a challenge to find a few hours of time to go exploring, but students who have tried it say that it is well worth the time.

“I think you would be at a disadvantage to choose to stay inside the Calvin bubble,” admits freshman Kara Bilkert. Grand Rapids has a variety of events and venues to choose from, such as ArtPrize, swing dancing and various festivals throughout the year.

Besides being close to a city that has lots of events going on, Calvin students can also purchase a discount card from campus safety or the Service Learning Center (SLC), reducing the cost of a one-way ride to 50 cents.

Some students have found riding The Rapid to be an intimidating endeavor. Freshman Kira Rosol has lived in Grand Rapids for many years, but she had never used the busing system before coming to Calvin.

“It was a different experience,” says Rosol, “I got out of my comfort zone.” To her surprise, Rosol found that the bus system was not nearly as confusing as she had thought. She admits that she found it even more relaxing because she was with a group of friends. “Just don’t go alone for the first time,” suggests Rosol.

Getting a map of the routes from the SLC a few days before exploring also proved to be a helpful tool for some, as planning ahead left time to ask others for tips and advice.

“If you’re ever confused, don’t be afraid to ask the bus driver for guidance or helpful tips for your trip,” states freshman Amanda Skowbo.

The Rapid doesn’t give change back in the form of cash, but rather on a small card that serves as a voucher to pay for future use of The Rapid.

Besides planning ahead, junior Emily Veenstra says that time management is key for a smooth ride: “Never be crunched for time — it removes the stress and makes the ride a more enjoyable experience.”

Skowbo also notes that mistakes are possible even with the best of planning. “We accidentally got on southbound bus when we should have boarded a northbound. We ended up at Central Station instead of Calvin!” recalls Skowbo.

“With good time management and a lot of laughs, we still had plenty of time to get back to Calvin for dinner!”

Despite occasional mishaps, students recommend trying The Rapid at least once. “College is for trying new things,” states Rosol, “It’s an adventure.”

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