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The Rapid and partners providing free-fares to downtown bus riders

The Rapid DASH photo
Experience Grand Rapids

It’s being dubbed as a first-of-its-kind, public-private partnership providing downtown Grand Rapids bus users with a free ride.  The fare-free rides are a product of three partners with a vision for improving bus service and access.

The Rapid, the City of Grand Rapids and Spectrum Health are partnering in an effort to increase The Rapids Route 19 ridership while reducing traffic and parking congestion along the Michigan Street corridor. The three partners are behind free-fares that are now in effect.

“All the stations north of Wealthy Street so essentially the downtown loop of the Silver Line is in the No Fare Zone which is sponsored by the City of Grand Rapids.”

Michael Bulthuis is The Rapid’s marketing and communications manager.

“The city also pays for the Dash system which The Rapid also operates. So we have these two systems running concurrently and then this new Route 19 is really just an enhancement for the Michigan Street corridor, but ties into both of those systems, both the Silver Line and with Dash north on Michigan Street. So, it’s again, once you’re downtown it’s this ease of travel moving around downtown at no cost to the riders but the city pays for the Dash and the Silver Line. This new Route 19 is a partnership between the city and Spectrum Health in terms of the funding and also The Rapid. So, it’s roughly 40 percent is coming from each of our partners from Spectrum and from the city and then The Rapid will pick up the additional 20 percent of the line.”

Annually that comes out to roughly a $293,000 split. The free-fares are part of a three year pilot program.

As for improvements to Route 19, during peak travel demand buses will make stops every 10 minutes.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.