The Rapid en route to improved high-tech transit for Grand Rapids

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

If leaders at The Rapid have their way, rider-centric technology that includes a real-time arrival system and onboard wireless Internet access will be part of the Grand Rapids transit system.

The Rapid recently wrapped up a first phase of technology enhancements that include global positioning system (GPS) tracking, an automated annunciation system to assist visually impaired riders, and onboard mobile data terminals that enable communication between bus drivers and dispatchers.

Now the purchasing department and operations staff are busy putting together the specifics for Phase II of the high-tech renovation.

“One addition will be a real-time arrival system that uses GPS technology,” says Jennifer Kalczuk, external relations manager. “People will be able to go online to see where the bus is on the route and how soon it will arrive at their stop. This information will also be displayed on electronic signs along the future bus rapid transit line and at other stops not designated yet.”

Other enhancements include an electronic payment system that uses a prepaid “smart” card, an upgrade to the onboard security surveillance system, and an onboard wireless Internet access point for Route 50, the route that runs between Grand Valley State University’s Pew and Allendale campuses. 

Funding will come from state and federal grants.

“Phase II will affect passengers, and we want to improve the passenger experience,” Kalczuk says. “[The technology] has a lot of benefit for us in real time and on a much more detailed level to make sure the transit system is working as efficiently as it can be.”

Source: Jennifer Kalczuk, The Rapid

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].