U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters announced that The Rapid’s proposal to construct a 13.3-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) line between downtown Grand Rapids and Grand Valley State University in Allendale was accepted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Starts Capital Investment program. This highly selective program will give The Rapids’ Laker Line project the support it needs to develop a plan and apply for federal funding.
“This announcement is a great step in moving this project forward,” said Senator Stabenow. “The Laker Line will help connect workers with major employers and students with downtown businesses, giving a significant boost to West Michigan’s economy. Reliable transportation is critical for families and students who need a safe and dependable way to get to work and school.”
“Today’s announcement is a great step forward as The Rapid continues to develop the Laker Line to reduce traffic and offer affordable transportation in the Grand Rapids area,” Senator Peters said. “These resources will help promote future development for the bus line connecting downtown Grand Rapids to Grand Valley State University to improve access to the region’s largest university for students, workers and community members.”
“This is a very exciting step forward for the Laker Line. Our experience in delivering the Silver Line–Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line–on time and on budget, and the success it has had since it opened, has shown that we know how to build and operate BRT,” said The Rapid CEO Peter Varga. “This has clearly helped expedite our next line. Being able to move into project development is a huge step forward in connecting the Allendale campus, Walker, Grand Rapids’ west side, and Medical Mile with in an efficient, effective, and attractive way.”
Expanding the bus system will facilitate faster, higher-capacity transit service in a corridor that experiences crowding during peak times. It could also boost student enrollment and attendance at GVSU by facilitating travel between the campuses in Grand Rapids and Allendale. The Laker Line plan includes building 11 stations and purchasing 13 high-capacity compressed natural gas buses.
In this Project Development phase, The Rapid will receive support as it completes an environmental review process and develop an evaluation system before requesting federal funding for construction. The amount of Small Starts funding the project will request has not yet been announced. The Federal Transportation Administration’s Small Starts Capital Investment program is designed for major transit capital investments, including rapid rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, commuter rail, and ferries.