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Grand Rapids area to vote on increasing public transportation funding

Students board The Rapid's DASH to the Hill bus.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Students board The Rapid's DASH to the Hill bus.

Public transportation around Grand Rapids could get a huge boost if voters in the city and 5 suburbs approve a mileage increase set to appear on the ballot in May. If the levy passes, The Rapid CEO Peter Varga says it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $76 a year.

“We feel it’s a modest amount to really radically improve the services.”

The increase would pay for more consistent and frequent services. All routes would run through at least 11 o’clock at night on weekdays and 10 o’clock on Saturday.

It would also help cover the costs of a new rapid transit service with a dedicated bus lane. Funding for the so-called Silverlinewill come mostly from the state and federal governments.

Since its founding in 2000, The Rapid has grown every year. This year they expect to make more than 10 million trips. The mileage increase voters will be asked to approve this spring is the first step in a20 year plan to improve service and keep up with demand.

Varga says most people ride The Rapid to and from work.

“That’s a really important focus of ours is making sure people can get to the jobs and that people who are offering jobs have it easier for them to find people who want to work.”

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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