The Silver Line… Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!
By Gabrielle McManus
What’s the Silver Line you ask? The Silver Line is a brand new bus system that has been brought to Grand Rapids. The Silver Line still works with The Rapid, but this bus system is just “a little” different.
The Silver Line will help connect Grand Rapids by extending routes further south of Grand Rapids (out to 60th Street) and enhancing transportation throughout the Medical Mile. The Rapid will offer 34 different stops along this route for the new Silver Line, which will be fully operational by August 25, 2014. The bus will run from 5:00 a.m.-Midnight and will be out more frequently than the normal bus lines, making stops every 15-20 minutes, even on weekends!
Part of the benefit of the Silver Line is that anyone needing to get to the Medical Mile will be able to do so with more ease. The new bus system not only enables patients to get to the hospitals more quickly, it also allows those that live further out from the city to get the medical attention they need. With a faster and more capable bus system more people will have an easier time coming to the downtown area allowing for greater access to medical help. “The Silver Line will help bring the energy that the Medical Miles needs,” says Steve Heacock of Spectrum Health.
The Silver Line is faster than the normal buses because they can hold green lights longer while they go through, and can shorten red light time, so there is less of a stop. Plus, the Silver Line gives the rider “real time,” or progress of the bus on its route, every 45 seconds!
The Silver Line will also boost the economy. “It’s all about creating jobs,” says Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid. The Silver Line could save people up to $10,000 a year. The Silver Line offers daily rates in addition to many package deals all aimed at helping the people of Grand Rapids have greater access to the city.
On top of creating jobs and allowing for easier access for all commuters, the Silver Line is better for the environment because it is a “top of the line” hybrid.
While many people didn’t know about the project “Silver Line,” it was being discussed all the way back in 2003! The Rapid started a study to see how they could bring a faster bus system to “a primary corridor” of the Grand Rapids metro area. By January of 2007, they decided to use BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), and thus the Silver Line was born!
Brenda, a worker at the information desk at Central Station, said, “The seats are a lot more cushy.” She says the buses are much more “handi-capable” with the bigger doors and fewer seats, and the platforms at the bus stops are heated, so no snow or ice mountains to climb to get on the bus! The platforms have also been built higher off the ground so citizens in wheelchairs don’t have to wait for a ramp to come down from the bus.
With all the new and improved bus stops being built, people are making more of an effort to keep those specific areas clean. In a way, this bus system may change the community as a whole. Providing people with a more enjoyable, people-friendly ride, cleaner and easier to wait-in bus stops, and also helping to keep the environment clean while helping the economy, all seem a good start to the new Silver Line bus system.
All in all, it seems that the new system will bridge gaps in the Grand Rapids community.
The Rapid, bringing the Silver Line to a neighborhood near you!!