The Rapid’s Transit Master Plan: What riders think

The Rapid recently conducted the second phase of community engagement for its Transit Master Plan through two open houses this month at the Rapid Central Station in downtown Grand Rapids. These events provided community members with an opportunity to review and provide feedback on the initial master plan recommendations.

The engagement sessions aimed to ensure the proposed plans align with the community's needs and goals. Insights from the community have significantly shaped these initial recommendations, and the open houses served as a platform to refine the plans further.

Photo by Tommy AllenA member of The Rapid team engages with a rider who came to the open house.

Photo by Tommy AllenEntering the bus, the folks were introduced to the process.

Photo by Tommy AllenThe public placed one of four dots to help items rise in the public adoption process.

The first phase of engagement took place in fall 2023, featuring a survey and an open house designed to gather feedback on The Rapid’s 20-year vision for the community-led transit system. The survey received over 1,000 responses. The fall open house focused on identifying goals, while the recent events prioritized those goals to better reflect the community's needs.

“We are excited about the future of transit in our growing region,” said Deb Prato, CEO of The Rapid. “This phase of the Transit Master Plan is to confirm that we have truly listened to our residents and aligned our recommendations with their vision. Our next step is to collaborate with the community and stakeholders to secure the funding needed to make these projects a reality.”

Photo by Tommy AllenThe public was invited to tour the bus to learn about the process, then move to the boards before finally sitting down to complete a survey.
Photo by Tommy AllenMember of the team doing the master plan for The Rapid

Photo by Tommy AllenThis food truck is a former transit bus repurposed for a new use.

The Rapid spoke with community members, many who are regular transit riders, who attended about their thoughts of the master plan.

Zach Eggeleton, rider:

I was trying to learn more about service and what plans might end up happening. I’m impressed by how broad the plans are and their ability to add services to the townships. I use The Rapid somewhat regularly because public transportation is cheaper, safer, and it gives people options in the city to travel. 

Gail Mancewicz, rider:

The Rapid matters to me because of employment and recreation and getting around the community. And the community is more than just Grand Rapids and the six cities, it’s our whole county. We should be able to take advantage of things in Lowell or Rockford or Sparta without having to find someone with a car. The bus doesn’t go to Lowell. We have to work on that. Public transportation is my only mode of transportation. My main concern is getting the service out to the outer parts of Kent County so people in Grand Rapids can go to a job or a restaurant, and people from outlying areas can come into Grand Rapids for a job or a restaurant. I want transportation where I can go anywhere, anytime and in an affordable, convenient way.

Andrew Ittigson, (AECOM) infrastructure consulting firm:

This is critical. This open house has been a great experience, just bringing it right where riders are. It seems to me that in Grand Rapids, transit and mobility are really important issues. There's a very active community as well, and especially right where we are at the Rapid Central Station. These are transit riders, so they want to provide us with their input.

Photo by Tommy AllenA Rapid team member assists Gail Mancewicz, who has limited vision.
Michael Williams, rider:

I've been engaged since the beginning of this master plan effort. I'm a transit user. I use the bus, and I use the rideshare systems, and I use micro mobility systems. I think it’s very important that people are engaged and that services are accessible, affordable and reliable. I'm delighted to see the approach of using the station platform instead of a conference room and incentivizing people with barbecue instead of just, “here's a meeting, come to it” with no incentives. There's a lot more engagement right here than I've seen throughout the rest of the process. 

Photo by Tommy AllenThe Rapid rider Ray Winright participated in a public input session.

Ray Winright, rider:

This open house is most important because people have the opportunity to give their input to make The Rapid better. There’s a bus stop at Three Mile in Walker where people work on the other side of the street. The city doesn't have the funding to put in a crosswalk, where cars drive 55 miles per hour, and it gets busy. So how are people going to safely cross the street without having to download the Connect on-demand app, transferring to the Connect app from the city bus to take them straight there from Central Station? There should be some other alternative ways to make it better, where people can still get to where they want to go, where safety is not going to be an issue. I ride the bus almost every day for work. 

Photo by Tommy AllenKim Davey, community engagement and advocacy manager for Disability Advocates of Kent County.

Kim Davey, community engagement and advocacy manager for Disability Advocates of Kent County:

I’m here because transportation is absolutely critical for people, and in particular, I know a lot of paratransit users. Also, I work out near Byron Township, where there is no longer service. This master plan is arriving at the time to have this conversation. Grand Rapids is posed for growth, and you can't really have growth unless you have reliable, affordable, and accessible transplantation.

Photo by Tommy AllenKen Miguel-Cipriano reads facts about The Rapid bus.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano, rider:

It's an economic development mechanism for a lot of people. In a household, the No. 2  line item in a budget is transportation, just under your mortgage or your rent. It’s the quickest way to get money back into the hands of regular people. There's hundreds of dollars that people spend every month if they own a vehicle, but if they take the bus, that's a reduction in their costs immediately. So I was able to buy my house in 2017 because I always took the bus. I've never subscribed to the idea that I need a car. I've always walked, biked or taken the bus everywhere. So The Rapid directly contributed to me having permanent housing. I love transit. I love The Rapids. One thing Central Station needs is vendors selling worker food.

The findings and new survey are also available online by visiting
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