Who’s riding the Rapid’s new Silver Line

Posted at 12:22 PM, Sep 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-16 12:22:59-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– The new Rapid Silver Line buses hit the road late August, promising a shorter commute down one of the busiest stretches into downtown Grand Rapids.

The Silver Line is Michigan’s first bus rapid transit system, using designated lanes and traffic signal interaction. The $39 million bus system connects Grand Rapids to Kentwood and Wyoming, mainly through Division Avenue, also known as Route 1, the busiest route.

The Silver Line boasts cutting a typical commute time down by 40%.

Fox 17 is now getting a look at the ridership numbers.

According to Rapid officials, since the Silver Line debuted August 25th and through September 4th, numbers revealed an average of 2,200 riders a day down Route 1.

During the same time period, about an average of 2,140 riders chose to ride Route 1 on the regular Rapid buses.

During the same time period in 2013, when the Silver Line was not available, the average number of daily riders down Route 1 came out around 2,820.

“Ridership has been fantastic,” said Michael Bulthuis,  public outreach coordinator for the Rapid.

“We are seeing slightly less riders on Route 1 so we are seeing that shift from Route 1 to the Silver Line which was expected. But the ridership gains we are seeing on the Silver Line are pacing that shift, so we are attracting new ridership which is fantastic.”

Rapid officials say Medical Mile employees and Grand Rapids Community College students make up a bigger percentage of the Silver Line Riders.

They feel it will take time to reach their projected numbers once people settle into a more regular commute.

Officials expect Silver Line ridership to eventually average 5,000 riders a day by the end of 2015.