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GVSU: Laker Line Slated To Get Federal Funds

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The Grand Valley State University Laker Rapid bus line is slated to get $57 million in President Obama’s Fiscal 2017 budget.  

The project could add 16 buses to the Rapid’s line-up benefiting Route 50, which runs between downtown Grand Rapids and the Allendale Campus. 

This could mean enhanced service for students and riders.

“We refer to this as light rail with rubber tires.  More cost effective way to transport people around.”

Lisa Haynes is the assistant V.P. for Operations at Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus and Regional Centers. 

She says the inclusion of the Laker Line in President Obama’s Fiscal year 2017 budget is huge.  The $57 million, plus a matching grant from the state, adds up to $71 million that would greatly  enhance the Laker Line.

“The ability to move people from Allendale to downtown, and connect to medical mile, larger capacity to transport many more riders than can currently fit on the line. Jobs to local economy. Building stations and roadway improvements. The biggest is connecting people throughout the community.”

Peter Varga, CEO of the Rapid, agrees. 

He says this is only the second BRT or bus rapid transit in the state.  One of the factors that lead to the project's grant award is the successful implementation and continued progress of the Silver Line.

"Not many projects get funded. [It's] one of the highest-rated for small starts in US, second BRT in Michigan."

The 13.3-mile Laker Line BRT system  would look more like light rail stations.  Haynes says articulated 60-foot buses will address the growing needs on the Laker line, which has grown from 700 riders a day in 2000 up to between 9,000 and 11,000 per day currently.  

Haynes says if things progress on schedule with the budget, it would be up and running in fall of 2018.

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