Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Grand Rapids adds new bus line

Photo by Sierra Savela

This August, The Rapid —  Grand Rapids’ city bus line —  added a new and improved route to its bus schedule. The Silver Line will connect Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming, while also passing through the busiest parts of Grand Rapids. Mostly lining Division Avenue, the bus goes through the medical mile, past DeVos place, Grand Rapids Community College and 28th Street.

Beyond its convenient location, the Silver Line will improve the bus-riding conditions. The 34 stops include shelter-like elements, signs indicating the next bus, a snow-melting sidewalk, camera surveillance and emergency phones. These stations also have raised platforms, which make getting on the bus easier so there is no need for bus ramps.

Other bus lines lack these new improvements. Most stops don’t have shelter, or even seats. The Silver Line makes bus riding more comfortable and easy for passengers.

These buses have a new, rail-like convenience. The Rapid website describes it as “blurring the line between bus and train.”

Parts of Division Avenue now include lanes made strictly for the bus, which lead to quicker arrival times. Special technology is installed on each bus, allowing drivers to communicate with traffic lights in order to lengthen green lights. Both make taking the Silver Line much quicker than driving down Division Avenue during peak afternoon traffic.

Each bus also includes free Wi-Fi for passengers. Boarding passes are prepaid either online, or at ticket machines located at the bus stops, making bus-loading go quicker and smoother. Seven-day passes cost $14 and one ride costs $1.50. At this time there are no discounts for students.

Environmentalists push for the use of public transportation and having fewer cars on the road. The Silver Line is a step toward making that happen and has a lot of local environmentalists happy.

Joshua Leffingwell, the communications director for West Michigan Environmental Action Council and founder of The Salon, a local urbanist advocacy group, expressed his approval.

“By making transit fast and easy, The Rapid is making the Grand Rapids area less congested and even more green,” Leffingwell said.

Because taking the transit route is much faster than driving a car, Leffingwell hopes the silver line will help decrease the amount of single-occupancy vehicles on Division Ave, less cars means less pollution and less pollution makes for a better environment.

 The Silver Line has made bus riding more accessible and luxurious which Leffingwell hopes will bring more riders. Aspects like Wi-Fi and quicker arrival times will encourage people to ride instead of drive.

Leffingwell hopes the line will inspire change to the way public transportation is viewed.

 “These improvements will pay off quickly as people begin to see transit as a true transportation alternative,” Leffingwell said.

 The Silver Line also has local businesses happy due to the number of employees that use the bus to get to work.

 In April of 2013, a ceremony was held to launch the work on the Silver Line. Tommy Brann, owner of Brann’s Steakhouse, a local restaurant, explained most of his employees get to work by bus.

 Even Michigan governor, Rick Snyder expressed his approval at the ceremony.

 “We’re talking about a critically important thing in terms of public transportation,” Snyder explained. “It’s people’s lifeline to a job … This is not just the end of it. This is exciting for our future.”

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