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Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids

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GR is blessed or cursed depending on your viewpoint with freeways in all directions and the downtown is bisected w/ freeways. Currently there's only 1 congested corridor and that's US 131 north. (Sorry aowwt , 131 south isn't congested unless there's an accident or lane restrictions due to construction, Traffic runs at or near the speed limit most of the time even at "rush hour").

That's pretty much what I've found as well. Aside from a few backups during rush hour, we really don't have a traffic problem in this city. I'm all for transit, but I don't see a solution to the immediate problem of traffic. I think it was a stretch to think it would pull a significant amount of traffic off 131. What's the incentive to park and ride if you can still drive downtown faster and your employer is likely paying for your parking?

This has always been a chicken or the egg problem though. Without density we can't justify a better transit system, but without a better transit system we remain tied to our cars without much density. I think we'll get there, but now just wasn't the time, I guess. I would suggest capping freeways in the area at 3 lanes per side, and once they're maxed out, that's it. Then people would have to find alternatives or deal with that mess.

How's the downtown streetcar proposal coming along? I actually feel like it has a higher chance of success because it would be a little less ambitious and could grow incrementally in many directions with the start downtown.

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That's pretty much what I've found as well. Aside from a few backups during rush hour, we really don't have a traffic problem in this city. I'm all for transit, but I don't see a solution to the immediate problem of traffic. I think it was a stretch to think it would pull a significant amount of traffic off 131. What's the incentive to park and ride if you can still drive downtown faster and your employer is likely paying for your parking?

This has always been a chicken or the egg problem though. Without density we can't justify a better transit system, but without a better transit system we remain tied to our cars without much density. I think we'll get there, but now just wasn't the time, I guess. I would suggest capping freeways in the area at 3 lanes per side, and once they're maxed out, that's it. Then people would have to find alternatives or deal with that mess.

How's the downtown streetcar proposal coming along? I actually feel like it has a higher chance of success because it would be a little less ambitious and could grow incrementally in many directions with the start downtown.

In my opinion I think some factors put Grand Rapids' drivers in a much lower threshold for dealing with traffic density.

By the way, great observation on the downtown rail project. The project should be on track to start up under a non-profit corp to gather capital funding. Nothing new, but I suspect late this spring or mid summer will be more informative.

After non-profit corp or similar is established look for a few high value donations to pour in quickly to build credibility and confidence for smaller donors and philanthropists. 20% donors will put in 80% funds. Rest will come from many small donors so you're going to see a hard and fast dollar figure by 3-5 donors to establish credibility. Then look for a release of renderings or some illustrations to bring in low dollar donors. Just an observation for you.

Edited by Rizzo

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Alex I like your idea in regards to limiting the freeways in the Grand Region.

How about this for the proposal. US 131 from M6 to I-96 can be no more than 3 lanes with a weave-merge lane. I-196 from I-96 to US 31 (bypass freeway) 3 lanes with a weave merge lane. M-6, I-96, and US 31 except in Muskegon or Holland can be no more than 2 lanes with a weave merge lane. For those that do not know what a weave-merge lane is, well it is a lane that begins at the end of entrence ramp and ends at an exit ramp off the freeway. I would also like to point out that when the interchanges at 36th, Burton, Hall, Franklin, and Wealthy are rebuilt in the near future we need to get them to build them as Single Point Urban Interchanges. That will allow a better traffic flow on top of make it safe to get off and on the freeway. Another item is having that weave merge lane run between each of those interchanges in Grand Rapids.

As for my idea of the a Light Rail to link the Holland, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids I think it would have to be by a vote of the public and give them the choice on the type of funding for each city. I would suggest a .1% income tax at a 10k deduction or a .5 mill rate or something in that manner. The cities that approve of the light rail stops would have to vote for the manner of funding. So the ballot would be choose Yes or No and then choose the type of funding. I would toss the question to the ITP, although EGR and Kentwood would not get to vote for it since at the moment there is no way to link the LT rail to those cities unless it were to go along Michigan Ave to EGR then to the Airport, Hudsonville, Zeeland, Holland, Grand Haven, Ferrysburg, Norton Shores, Muskegon, Coopersville, and that small community west of Muskegon. If townships were to ask to join up by their boards they could only if they are on the route. As for how many stops these cities were to get, well just one. They would get to choose were on the line the stop would be at. I would also suggest that this be a seperate line from CSX usage and have the Amtrak line either be moved to it or be stopped at Holland since CSX has been a sore spot with Amtrak.

The problem I have right now when it comes from Ottawa County there is not a lot of good places to run this line. Considering it would have to have double tracks at points, I am thinking either I-96 section or the CSX section. CSX has the benifit of being able to serve the Grandville DDA better but it is limited in scope as there is very little space for even a single line. Once Chicago Drive enters Wyoming the next stop if Wyoming were to vote for it would be limited to the end of Burlingame. Running a Light Rail from the ITP Station to the Airport is also interesting. I am not sure if Fulton would be the best choice to run down to Lake Drive but it could run down Lake Drive to East Beltline then to the Airport. If I am not mistake, Woodland is Kentwood so it would be a good spot for a Light Rail Station. This could also allow us to cancel those Airport shuttles to and from the airport to Downtown. Getting a station of course means that you are willing to pay the tax for it. The key thing is the more cities that opt in the more runs this could make as a result. The line to Muskegon from the ITP terminal is simple run along the ambandon (i think correct me if I am wrong) along the west side of Grand Rapids to I-96 then head to Muskegon along the I-96 corridor with a possible stop at Coopersville. The station could for Walker could be at the Delta plex area.

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That's pretty much what I've found as well. Aside from a few backups during rush hour, we really don't have a traffic problem in this city. I'm all for transit, but I don't see a solution to the immediate problem of traffic. I think it was a stretch to think it would pull a significant amount of traffic off 131. What's the incentive to park and ride if you can still drive downtown faster and your employer is likely paying for your parking?

This has always been a chicken or the egg problem though. Without density we can't justify a better transit system, but without a better transit system we remain tied to our cars without much density. I think we'll get there, but now just wasn't the time, I guess. I would suggest capping freeways in the area at 3 lanes per side, and once they're maxed out, that's it. Then people would have to find alternatives or deal with that mess.

How's the downtown streetcar proposal coming along? I actually feel like it has a higher chance of success because it would be a little less ambitious and could grow incrementally in many directions with the start downtown.

The freeway won't go more than 3 lanes except for some areas where a 4th weave merge lane makes sense ( 131 North of Ann and South of West River). There just isn't the funding available and there are Right of way constraints. Like I said, we have a pretty good bus system. I wouldn't have any problem with a decent millage to boost frequency system wide during rush hours or even later hours. I don't think the Rapid would have any trouble getting that approved.

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The freeway won't go more than 3 lanes except for some areas where a 4th weave merge lane makes sense ( 131 North of Ann and South of West River). There just isn't the funding available and there are Right of way constraints. Like I said, we have a pretty good bus system. I wouldn't have any problem with a decent millage to boost frequency system wide during rush hours or even later hours. I don't think the Rapid would have any trouble getting that approved.

I do think that one of the biggest deficiencies in The Rapid is a lack of frequency. In Portland in 2005, the bus I rode from the NE side to downtown ran every 15 minutes. It was packed, standing room only one of the times we took it down there. At that time, they had about 6 or 8 of their main routes than ran every 15 minutes. It is also the chicken and egg thing. People don't ride because it's not convenient with less frequent service, but, people not riding makes it appear as if there is not a demand for increased service. I don't know how to fix that problem, per se.

The bus to Woodland goes two blocks from my house (and on the way back it goes even closer). If it reliably ran every 15 minutes, we'd be much more likely to take it out there to go catch a movie. Same for the bus out to Knapp's Corner. We'd know that we had to be there around the quarter hour, or whatever time it was, and we could plan for that pretty easily.

Last time I looked, there were a couple of routes that run every 15 minutes during rush hour, but there are many routes that are much longer between buses and it makes it a lot harder to just say "I'm going to wait for the next bus" and know you won't be waiting for 25 minutes.

I do think they are moving the right direction with the online tracking. And I liked the idea of the BRT stops telling the time the next bus would arrive. With lots of people having cell phones, maybe there could be a system where you texted The Rapid your location (via a code on the bus stop, which would also be in the schedules) and it told you how long until the next bus arrived?

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I do think that one of the biggest deficiencies in The Rapid is a lack of frequency. ...

The bus to Woodland goes two blocks from my house (and on the way back it goes even closer). If it reliably ran every 15 minutes, we'd be much more likely to take it out there to go catch a movie. Same for the bus out to Knapp's Corner. We'd know that we had to be there around the quarter hour, or whatever time it was, and we could plan for that pretty easily.

Last time I looked, there were a couple of routes that run every 15 minutes during rush hour, but there are many routes that are much longer between buses and it makes it a lot harder to just say "I'm going to wait for the next bus" and know you won't be waiting for 25 minutes.

...

Yes yes yes. This is my biggest frustration with the service. It's only a reliable service when planning ahead. You really can't pull of spontaneous trips with the current system. A friend calls, asks if I want to join him at location X, I check, bus just went by so I have to wait 25 minutes (or 55 on some routes) and tell him it'll be two hours after that due to long waits at a transfer point. Plans get canceled before they even happen.

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After non-profit corp or similar is established look for a few high value donations to pour in quickly to build credibility and confidence for smaller donors and philanthropists. 20% donors will put in 80% funds. Rest will come from many small donors so you're going to see a hard and fast dollar figure by 3-5 donors to establish credibility. Then look for a release of renderings or some illustrations to bring in low dollar donors. Just an observation for you.

Very interesting strategy. I'd even kick in $100 or so. That's enough for naming rights, right?

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Very interesting strategy. I'd even kick in $100 or so. That's enough for naming rights, right?

Maybe that could get a brick at one of the stops :)

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Very interesting strategy. I'd even kick in $100 or so. That's enough for naming rights, right?

I guess that depends on what you're going to name. Perspective: With that 100$ you'd be buying about a 4' length of rail. Hold up on the naming rights. When ArtPrize 2012 comes around you should sign up your piece of the track as a venue. :lol:

Edited by Rizzo

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Already a memory.

Due to lack of demand. Veloise - Thanks for picking this factoid out of the other poster's comments on everything :whistling: I'm pretty sure the G2 report said the same thing.

Edited by Raildudes dad

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I don't necessarily think that both ends of a light rail line need to be "anchored" by employment centers or attractions. The Charlotte Lynx Southern end just consists of a station and a 1120 space park-n-ride ramp:

http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/CATS/L...485+Station.htm

It doesn't even have to be a pretty one. I-85 in Mecklenberg County (Charlotte) averages 160,000 cars a day in its peak segments in that corridor.

I should also add that SLC's Southern terminus had only park-n-rides (it now has an expo center and a lifestyle center):

http://www.argyleist.com/uploaded_images/Trax-737792.jpg

I-15 averages 250,000 cars/day in its peak segments (201 interchange area). It has 10 lanes with one HOV in each direction. When TRAX was planned back in the mid-90's, I-15 was a six lane highway through SLC, like US-131, and peak areas averaged 200,000 cars/day.

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Last time I looked, there were a couple of routes that run every 15 minutes during rush hour, but there are many routes that are much longer between buses and it makes it a lot harder to just say "I'm going to wait for the next bus" and know you won't be waiting for 25 minutes.

I do think they are moving the right direction with the online tracking. And I liked the idea of the BRT stops telling the time the next bus would arrive. With lots of people having cell phones, maybe there could be a system where you texted The Rapid your location (via a code on the bus stop, which would also be in the schedules) and it told you how long until the next bus arrived?

Seconded wholeheartedly. Check out Ann Arbor's bus tracker - very cool (and optimized for cell phones).

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I would love to see a high speed rail line to Chicago, or even the big lake for a day trip. I bet that it would get a lot of people, a trip to chi-town in less time than you could drive, or even fly. Then branch out from there.

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I'm really interested in the discussion about connecting Muskegon - Holland - GR by rail.

Hopefully, the commuter study that Ottawa County is undertaking will show huge increase in commuter traffic in the last 5-10 years.

I was told in order to have a reasonably successful inTRAurban transit system you will need a 50% inter county commuter ratio, this way the system could capture at least 3% of the commuter demand. I believe in 2000 we were just under 30%.

There's also the chicken/egg question that deals with the above. My opinion on this particular case is "build it and they will come". I and many others have been wrong on this before, but I think this case is different. If we increase to a 50% commuter ratio, we'll have surely created a highway mess similar to LA to "cater" to the commuters. I think the line needs to be put in place before we reach that 50% point so we can properly adjust development patters to compliment the system.

anyway.. those were just a couple thoughts. We have an uphill climb so we need some momentum on this.

Rizzo (or anyone), any meet up plans for more discussion on this?

Also, anyone know what the status is on the commuter/bus transit study? The last update I received was in February.

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I agree with you that we do not want to see us get to the point of LA or Atlanta. A mess is not what we want for our highways. Although I am a road geek I do want to see our concrete monuments to be limited in scope. I do wonder if it would be benifical to have a light rail line run from Holland to the airport directly or would just a line running on Michigan corridor be better. By means of corridor is probally the back side of all of the developments and I-196. If we were to get a street car system then a light rail running on Michigan would work better but I do not see anything at this time.

BTW if the ITP were to hold a Light Rail vote for GR and if EGR were to vote yes were would you place the station for that city? I think blodgett would be the best place but would it work is my question?

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I agree with you that we do not want to see us get to the point of LA or Atlanta. A mess is not what we want for our highways. Although I am a road geek I do want to see our concrete monuments to be limited in scope. I do wonder if it would be benifical to have a light rail line run from Holland to the airport directly or would just a line running on Michigan corridor be better. By means of corridor is probally the back side of all of the developments and I-196. If we were to get a street car system then a light rail running on Michigan would work better but I do not see anything at this time.

BTW if the ITP were to hold a Light Rail vote for GR and if EGR were to vote yes were would you place the station for that city? I think blodgett would be the best place but would it work is my question?

take it to the lake! that would be amazing! go down fulton (start at GVSU Allendale? maybe GVSU DT?) to lake through gas light village and to the lake. the return could go down wealthy and back to ITP?

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take it to the lake! that would be amazing! go down fulton (start at GVSU Allendale? maybe GVSU DT?) to lake through gas light village and to the lake. the return could go down wealthy and back to ITP?

I agree. A station right near the stadium East of Gaslight Village (close enough to the lake), and one at Blodgett Hospital, would be pretty sweet. One at Lake Drive/Carlton in Eastown, one at Cherry/Lake/Diamond, one at Lake and East Fulton, etc..

Though it would be expensive, I'm starting to think light rail out to GVSU would be cool. Especially with all of the growth along that corridor, and at GVSU, and it being underserved by highways. Plus, it provides two anchors that we've been talking about, and immediate ridership (replace the Rapid bus on that route).

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I'm really interested in the discussion about connecting Muskegon - Holland - GR by rail.

Hopefully, the commuter study that Ottawa County is undertaking will show huge increase in commuter traffic in the last 5-10 years.

I was told in order to have a reasonably successful inTRAurban transit system you will need a 50% inter county commuter ratio, this way the system could capture at least 3% of the commuter demand. I believe in 2000 we were just under 30%.

There's also the chicken/egg question that deals with the above. My opinion on this particular case is "build it and they will come". I and many others have been wrong on this before, but I think this case is different. If we increase to a 50% commuter ratio, we'll have surely created a highway mess similar to LA to "cater" to the commuters. I think the line needs to be put in place before we reach that 50% point so we can properly adjust development patters to compliment the system.

anyway.. those were just a couple thoughts. We have an uphill climb so we need some momentum on this.

Rizzo (or anyone), any meet up plans for more discussion on this?

Also, anyone know what the status is on the commuter/bus transit study? The last update I received was in February.

Great to see new blood in here! Also, great points. Discussion is contained mostly within this thread. Not really sure about future meet ups.

On the metro wide bus plan. Next month there should be a public review of service options. I think Nelson/Nygaard will be finished with the study sometime in October during that time there will be more public review opportunities.

Edited by Rizzo

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Grand Rapids officials consider taking parking meter payments by cell phone, credit card

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/ind...ls_conside.html

Anyone been to Petoskey lately? Is it actually convenient or just a pain in the neck?

I was there just over a month ago. We just used cash, IIRC. There's a shared machine for a group of parking spots, and it accepts coins, bills, and cards. It was very easy to use; we would have appreciated it more if we didn't have cash. The nice thing about the system is that it would make it easier for GR to charge more for parking (which is way too cheap right now, IMHO).

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The city of Miami has a system similar to this one. It works very good for me. It is nice getting a text message telling you that your time is about to expire, and then you can just call back and add more time.

The GR system seems a little different where you have to call back when you are finished. I actually like that better, because in Miami I have to guess how long I need and they charge an additional $.35 "convenience fee" everytime you call to add time.

I think this is a good move.

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