Rapid bus system to add new line, release bus routes to Google Transit

Rapid bus system users will soon be able to plot out their bus routes on Google Transit, take a bus straight from Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) Allendale campus to downtown Grand Rapids and maybe even take a spin on a streetcar line through the center of the city.

“We recently released our system data to Google Transit, and it’s currently undergoing quality assurance testing,” explained Kevin Wisselink, senior planner for the Rapid. “Once Google has accepted our data and given it their stamp of approval, you will be able to find our data on Google and we will begin looking into app development.”

Wisselink added that the data would also be open for the public to create an app for the bus system.

GVSU students will not only have an easier way to plan out their bus route, but also a more convenient bus route. The Rapid recently announced plans to add a special bus line for students at the school so they can catch a ride straight from their campus to downtown GR.

According to Wisselink, the new route came after extensive study of the region and its transportation needs: “About 10 years ago we undertook a process to look at all the areas in our region that could use a higher level of transportation service, such as the Bur Rapid Transit, which is being studied as part of the Laker Line Study.”

This study also looked at the possibility of adding a bus line from Calvin to downtown GR. There are no plans to implement such a line at this time, though Wisselink did not rule it out for the future.

“We recognize the need [for a line from Calvin to downtown] and may look at a high speed service past Calvin in the future,” he said.

A new streetcar line downtown may also be a possibility. The Rapid recently embarked on a “streetcar refinement study” to explore constructing a line in GR.

 “We are just beginning the study and [looking at] potential funding, and exactly where it will go has to be identified, although it will probably run for about two miles connecting North and South downtown. As the study continues, more information should be coming out about what the streetcar could look like and its preferred location,” Wisselink said.

The line would cost an estimated $80 million to construct.