GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As they hopped off the Rapid bus at the Fulton Street stop under U.S. 131 Wednesday, Grand Valley State students were treated to free food, games and a look into what the future could hold for the bus stop.
If Congress approves the funds, the Route 50 bus stop could become a station for the Laker Line. The proposed $71 million Rapid transit route would run between GVSU’s Grand Rapids and Allendale campuses.
“I have a class down here Monday, Wednesday and Fridays,” said GVSU Student Libby Hasley as she hopped off the bus.
“Monday [and] Wednesday for me. It was every day last semester,” said fellow student Anaca Bolton.
Rapid employees said the Laker Line would be an improvement. Similar to the Silver Line, the service would run up and down dedicated lanes of Lake Michigan Drive, cutting down time between stops.
However, the Laker Line would use high capacity, two-section buses to handle the influx of passengers. The Rapid said more residents who live along the current Route 50 are taking advantage of it. Currently, the transit service expects to provide about 3 million rides along the route this year.
“It gets crowded sometimes, it’s like there are certain times of the day where you almost can’t get on the bus,” added Bolton.
Stations like the ones that serve the Silver Line would be built along the Laker Line route.
Grand Valley would continue to pay for the day-to-day bus operations; taxpayers would have to pick up the $71 million cost of building the Laker Line.
Rapid employees said the project is worth the price.
“It’s not just a Grand Valley service, it’s part of our overall larger system so it is accessible to the public,” added Michael Bolthuis with the Rapid.
The Rapid said the bus stop stations promote economic growth within the community and the project would include competitive grants.
“It’s money that if it doesn’t come here for this project, it’s going to go to some other community for other projects,” Bolthuis said. “So, the fact that we’re getting that money to come back to this community is something we should be very, very proud of.”
If the funding from Washington comes through, the Rapid would begin building the line next year, with an opening date sometime in 2018.