Q: What is the purpose of Align?
The purpose of the study is to identify, analyze and prioritize a set of transit improvements that can be made to the existing Rapid bus system. Align will supplement The Rapid’s 2030 Transit Master Plan (TMP) with short- and long-term service improvement recommendations.
Q: Why is Align being conducted now?
Over the past decade, The Rapid has seen sustained growth in its ridership and made significant new investments in service. Building upon this success, the Align study will identify how The Rapid can continue to evolve its bus system to provide high-quality transportation service for the Grand Rapids metro area.
Q: How would improving public transportation benefit the community?
Improved transit service supports community and economic development by moving more people to businesses, homes and key destinations. A great public transit system also:
- mitigates traffic congestion
- reduces gasoline consumption
- connects people to jobs and opportunity
- helps students, workers and families save money
- strengthens a region’s economic competitiveness
Q: Will the study invite public comment?
Yes. The Align study will involve stakeholders along key corridors considered for transit improvements, host numerous open public meetings and facilitate community surveys targeting current riders and non-riders. Additionally, two committees—a Technical Advisory Committee and a Citizens Task Force—made up of local officials, business leaders and citizens will steer the project.
Q: Who is leading the Align study?
The study is being led by The Rapid using federal and state funding resources. The Rapid has hired an experienced team of planners led by AECOM, a leading transportation consultancy, with local partners Williams & Works (for land use planning and public engagement) and The Image Shoppe (for branding and marketing).
Q: When will Align be completed?
The study will establish a series of recommended improvements and projects in April 2018.
Q: What kinds of improvements are being considered?
Transportation improvements such as the following are being considered in the Align study:
- Implementing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along corridors with existing service or new corridors currently without service
- Altering existing routes to better connect to key destinations throughout the service area
- Extending weekday evening service hours on specific routes
- Extending weekend service hours on specific routes
- Infrastructure improvements
- Implementing emerging digital technologies
Q: What is Bus Rapid Transit?
Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, is a cost-effective way to improve public transportation service and provide commuters with a faster and more convenient way to travel. While more than 150 cities globally have deployed BRT transportation technology, The Rapid currently runs Michigan’s first BRT, the Silver Line, along the Division Avenue corridor and a second BRT line, the Laker Line, will likely be in operation by 2019.
Q: Who will pay for any future transportation improvements?
A key component of the study process is a thorough review and evaluation of all potential funding sources. While these types of capital infrastructure investments are typically funded by federal and state transportation grants, financing need not be limited to traditional options.
Q: What is the Study Area for Align?
The study is focused on the existing Rapid service area but will consider other potential transit service options within the larger Grand Rapids urbanized area.
Q: Is The Rapid seeking more funding to implement the recommendations of the study?
The Align study will consider the financial impact and funding options for any recommendations, but is not based on an expectation that additional funding will be needed. In 2017 The Rapid is seeking a renewal of the local operating millage within its member communities but will seek to maintain current levels of local funding support for its operations. The millage renewal is not directly related to the Align study or its potential recommendations.
Q: How can I get involved?
Q: Who can I reach out to for any questions?
Please contact Conrad Venema, Manager of Strategic Planning at (616) 774-1191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.