GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Those who attend and work at Grand Valley State University now have a new way to get back and forth between the main campus in Allendale and downtown Grand Rapids.

The 13-mile Laker Line route, which launched Monday, replaces Route 50 and increases capacity of each bus with the new fleet boasting 60-foot-long buses rather than 40.

“Compared to, say, 60 people, you could pack on a normal bus, this will fit upwards of 90,” said Bill Kirk, The Rapid’s business affairs specialist. “Certainly, during COVID we want to maximize distancing and make sure people are as safe as possible. So, we don’t anticipate packed buses, but from a capacity perspective, this is about a 30 percent increase in capacity.”

GVSU students, staff and faculty can ride for free as long as they have a valid university ID.

The new line is a bus rapid transit (BRT) service, meaning some areas along the route have dedicated bus lanes and new traffic signal technology on board gives the buses priority when going between the Allendale and downtown GVSU campuses. Stops include the Medical Mile.

The project was funded through federal and state grant dollars, which Rep. Bill Huizenga referenced during Monday’s celebratory launch ceremony. 

“We battled two administrations about getting this done and trying to tell the story of why this is so important,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland. “May be not everywhere, like Lansing and Washington D.C., does this make sense but in West Michigan this makes sense to us, doesn’t it? Bringing together the public and the private, bringing together the benefit that the students are receiving but seeing how it benefits the community.”

GVSU’s previous agreement with The Rapid for Route 50 will carry over to cover a portion of operating costs for the Laker Line. 

The Laker Line runs between 5:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. each day.

More information can be found online