Are you a Wheel or a Roadblock?

Ride The Rapid!

Kent County’s transit millage is just around the corner, again amidst soaring gas prices. Déjà Vu? Not really. This transit proposal is new and different from the last. The outcomes of this investment will lead us to a tipping point – the moment when The Rapid will deliver routes and schedules robust enough to make riding The Rapid a more feasible part of our daily lives.

Increasing prices for route services and gasoline chip away at a couple of key barriers keeping West Michiganders in their vehicles. But one key issue remains: You. Changing our habits, learning a new system, making different transportation choices – this is the nut we have to crack and it’s hard work.

At a recent meeting of activists, a seasoned Rapid rider shared her informal efforts to train a few friends in Rapid Ridership. This citizen’s engagement strategy simultaneously impressed me and struck a chord. We’ve been experimenting with behavior change models at WMEAC, recognizing that the solutions to our biggest environmental challenges – global warming, the protection of fresh water – often require small, incremental changes in the lifestyles of many people and families. Over time, these changes aggregate, creating a collective and massive impact.

It takes some gusto and motivation to make those first couple of trips on the Rapid, but few regret their first transit adventure. Most discover that public transportation pays dividends after just a few rides. Riders like me benefit from walking more, reading more, saving money and meeting people they would otherwise would not discover. Like most green lifestyle changes, one’s day suddenly becomes more intentional, better managed and less frantic with public transportation.

Some people might tell you to vote first, and only then follow up by designing your strategy to get on the bus. My recommendation is the opposite: Challenge yourself to take a ride on the bus first. As a result, your vote will fully reflect your commitment on May 3rd.

In anticipation of our upcoming vote on transit services, I will take a cue from my transportation trainer friend and help people prepare for the opportunity to change their lives for the better. Please join me in sharing your tips and tricks for transit over the coming month.

We’re all wheels on the bus and its time to roll, folks. Mark your calendar to vote on May 3rd. Then schedule your first transit adventure on a convenient day in April. We have to do more than just vote for public transportation – we have to get on board.

Things you’ll need for your first trip out:
– A visit to
– $3.00 fare (two trips)
– Weather-appropriate gear
– Good shoes
– A rapid route bus map (available on the bus for .50c)
– Two hours to kill
– A magazine or book
– Your smile
– Optional: A tasty beverage

0 replies
  1. Jaloney
    Jaloney says:

    I am NEITHER a Wheel or a roadblock. I love the environment and I am all for sustainability. I am a bus rider but I do not support the bus millage. My reasoning is both for monetary reasons and environmental reasons. First of all, the Hybrid Electric buses the Rapid bought do not offer any savings in fuel costs but they cost a whopping 200 thousand dollars more for each bus. Under the Rapid’s Millage, they would buy several more of these more expensive buses. Why? George Heartwell said the Hybrid Buses are largely symbolic. Why not save all the bucks wasted on symbolism and give more free bus passes to the poor? Waste not want not. I would rather see my taxes help someone than project a FALSE image of environmentalism.
    Secondly, and I know you don’t want to hear it, but in the suburbs where I live the buses are EMPTY EMPTY EMPTY all the time. Buses that are running EMPTY do not help the environment one bit. Why the Rapid doesn’t reduce the number of buses on some of these Empty routes is something many people can not figure out. (Incidentally I used the Division avenue Number one bus to get to GVSU and had no problem with the current bus)
    Thirdly: THE SILVERLINE BUS is neatly hidden in the current millage campaign. The environmental study of The Silverline is neatly hidden in a dark red text way at the bottom right hand corner of the Rapids website. On page 3-34 to 3-36 you find that the independent study that the Rapid paid for found that intersections from 54th street to Franklin street will flat out FAIL if the SIlverline is used as a RAPID transit bus. So the study suggest “MITIGATIONS”. The mitigation section basically states that the extremely expensive TRAFFIC SIGNAL PRIORITY system be Turned off. So the bus would stop at lights exactly like the bus we have now on Division and therefore, as the study points out, NOT BE ANY FASTER!
    So, we spend millions, rip up roads and pollute with all the construction machinery to get a bus that is no different than the bus we already have On top of that, the added traffic congestion on Division that people who have young kids that they have to transport to one of the area schools will cause more pollution.
    I am NOT anti-bus but The SIlverline takes up the bulk of the millages funds and it is not fiscally, or environmentally sound. The Silverline is the antiSustainability bus. The Silverline totally disrespects the environment and it offers NOTHING for the millions spent. We will see the trees ripped again on Division and all for Nothing.
    I wish so many of you that support this proposal understand that those against it are not against the bus. We want a bus system that is intelligently designed. The haphazard silverline plan has been described as NONSENSE. It is that bad. This is why they are keeping it quiet and not advertsing this large portion of the Rapid Millage. The Silverline is not Rapid Transit it is RAPID WASTE. Being Probus doesn’t mean you are being an environmentalist if you support ANY bus and any bus system with disregard for the fine writing. The Silverline i cause a lot of traffic problems and is not designed for future sustainabilty.

  2. Jaloney
    Jaloney says:

    Maybe this will help you think about the other side of this story?

    Waste is waste. Waste burns lots of energy. Money is the symbol of a lot of energy used.. and wasting it wastes a whole lot of energy..
    It saddens me that all of these people have been rallied up to go out and get donations for the Rapid. No they are not getting donations for the poor, or homeless, or global warming. Of course some of these canvassers are paid but still….it saddens me because we don’t see hundreds of people volunteering and paying student organizers to canvass for organizations that benefit the homeless,
    hungry, mentally ill, or for domestic violence shelter. Why? The reason so many are behind the bus millage is because the Rapid wants to capture the federal funds and build anything with it whether we need it or not so they have financied a very expensive campaign to get the money from the Feds.
    Unnecessary waste of money and resources to build a bus system we don’t need has become the FOCUS of so much energy because it is all about MONEY.. Construction companies are the big sponsers of this on Rapids website. Read between the lines. This is a fine example of what a town will do to try to caputre Federal Pork Barrel funds whether they need it or not.. What if all of this energy was devoted to cleaning up Lake Michigan, the Grand River, or fighting youth violence A REAL need? The need for more buses has been manufactured to try to capture federal pork. I use the Division bus and have no problems with it. I can work any shift and go anywhere with Division bus now. Sad that people pick up the advertised story without looking at why so much energy is going into it… Its not about energy or conservation. IT IS ABOUT MONEY. Very very sad


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *