Laker Line quells rider stress with new safety measures

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Case numbers at Grand Valley State University continue to rise just days after the university resumed in-person classes for the fall semester Monday. 

This at the same time the newly launched Laker Line of articulated busses and The Rapid removed their capacity restrictions across the board, which were in effect to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

Officials with both the university and The Rapid say everything is being done to keep students safe despite the pandemic. 

Cases are on the rise at GVSU. At last check with data from Aug. 31, the university’s confirmed cases grew over 300% percent from numbers gathered on Aug. 26 — from 30 confirmed cases to 123.

Despite the rise, business affairs specialist for The Rapid Bill Kirk says so far, so good.

“We did add some additional service both on the Grand Valley shuttles and in our regular routes on Monday,” Kirk said. “So far it’s been good. The Laker Line as you can see has lots of room for social distancing.”

That move came after reports of busses crowding quickly on the first day of class for GVSU.

Kirk says Rapid’s decision to remove those capacity restrictions is not a risky one given their increased efforts to keep the shuttles spotless and safe. 

“We did hear about some issues with capacity on Monday, so in concert with GVSU we put more busses on those routes starting Tuesday,” Kirk said. “We’re going to take our cues from the university. If they think we need to add more service, we certainly will. That’s their decision as the contract partner, so we’ll just keep an eye on those numbers as they come in.”

Adding more busses, cleaning and disinfecting them nightly, requiring riders to wear masks, all this just part of the process in a pandemic. 

“We’re grateful that our riders are following those rules and we need them to keep following those rules as we continue to navigate the pandemic,” Kirk said. 

Riders like Isaiah, a graduate student at GVSU.

“In comparison to four years ago it’s been a very stark contrast and one of my biggest stressors is that I am at risk,” Isaiah said. “It’s hard to socially distance on a bus like this. Especially when it gets busy. You know? There is that risk and the more people that you’re around, the greater the risk.”

Isaiah suffers from asthma but says leaving the house is worth the risk for opportunity and education.

“I’m riding the bus on my way to an internship,” Isaiah said. “There is value in being on site, so for me if I can go one or two times a day, instead of every day there is some merit for that but it’s hard to make that decision you know?”

A risky decision for Isaiah that weighs heavy on his mind. Adding to the stress of being a student during a time of so much uncertainty. 

“Going about daily life and even doing something like this today, riding the bus, it poses a lot of risk to a lot of us and I think a lot of people are concerned,” Isaiah said.”

Kirk says Rapids will continue to do everything it can to remove some of the stress on students like Isaiah, so they can succeed. 

“We’re just going to monitor really, really closely every day to make sure we’re providing the safest ride possible,” Kirk said.

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