Construction Begins For GR Bus Line That Was Hotly Debated In 2011

Posted at 6:04 PM, Apr 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-11 21:48:32-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Rapid broke ground on a new “faster” bus system that will run up and down Division called the Silver Line.

The governor made a trip to Grand Rapids to celebrate and praise the ongoing project.

The BRT, which stands for Bus Rapid Transit, is the first of its kind in the state.

When completed, it will function like a light rail system or a commuter train, with technology included in the bus that will allow the vehicles to turn the traffic lights green as they need to go through.

“I go a lot of places. I like to go out to my fiance’s and stuff,” said Herb Little, a frequent Rapid Customer. “This is just quicker for me.”

Little was part of a large crowd packed into a bus on Division Thursday afternoon.

He said he uses the bus to get to and from his ministry work.

Little is eager to see how much quicker the new Silver Line will be during his travels.

It would mean less waiting in the sun or in this case the rain or snow.

“This would quicken it up for not just me, but, hundreds or thousands of riders in Grand Rapids,” said Little.The Rapid says it will be an estimated 40% faster.

For example, instead of taking 50 minutes to travel from 54th Street to Michigan, using the current system, they say the Silver Line can get riders to their destinations in under 30 minutes.The governor said other cities, like Detroit, should follow suit.”This is a model they should be looking at,” said Governor Rick Snyder.The Silver Line will also feature new bus stations along Division.

Those will have snow-melt sidewalks, surveillance cameras and signs with electronic route information, letting you know when the next bus is coming.

However, not everyone is excited about the project.

The group, the Kent County Taxpayer’s Alliance fought against it when the millage to support it was approved by voters in 2011.

“We still feel it`s a tremendous waste of money,” said Eric Larson, Kent County Taxpayer’s Alliance.He feels it will cause more problems, rather than solve them.”It`s going to provide a bus line that`s not much faster than the current system,” said Larson. “And, it`s going to cause a lot of problems on Division and Michigan Street as it cuts off a lane of traffic.”However, the Rapid says more and more people are supportive of new projects in mass transit.

 They say the number of trips taken on the Rapid is climbing.

A chart they provided showed the number of trips taken in 2012 at around 12 million which was up from their reported numbers of riders at 11 million in 2011.”I like the new system. I hope and pray it will work great,” said Little.The Silver Line is scheduled to be completed August 24, 2014.