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francishsu

Rapid millage passes

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WOOD TV reports that The Rapid millage has passed by less than 200 votes! Wow, I really pessimistic about the chances. Since the millage increase would cover the operating expenses for the Silver Line BRT, that project can now get state and federal funding.

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That's great news for GR. Hope this is the first step to bigger and better transportation options in the future.

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First Bus Rapid Transit line in Michigan and first recipient of FTA (Very) Small Starts Funding. It's like we're on the exploding mass transit map finally.

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Well they got this thing shoved through, despite it being rejected last year. Well that is our process and all...

Now they are going to have to get past the nebulous rhetoric and actually prove that this poorly thought-out BRT is actually going to be more than a not much faster version of the bus that already runs the same route. They will have to show all of the people lining up to ride this thing as if it is a suburb outside of Chicago. They are going to have to show all of the development that springs up along the route, and all of the cars left behind by 60th street.

Because this thing passed by a paltry 100 votes and only by the help of central GR and EGR. This was no overwhelming mandate to create a vanity bus system to impress snooty out of towners that scoff at our “lack of sophistication”, or to just say we poured money into the ITP. This also had nothing to do with low-income people potentially losing access to the bus because existing service would not have been affected at all if this failed, or the elusive “young professionals” that supposedly looked in disgust at our “primitive” system that is apparently so bad that they rather drive cars than to use the bus routes that will be almost exactly the same even after this passed.*

*At least the ones I know personally never seem to take advantage of the ITP even though they all live in central (Uptown) GR, and drive to work downtown.

This thing is going to actually have to produce something tangible or else the next millage may well have the cash for this stuff stripped out. This is real money, from real people, that are real broke right now.

I still contend that this stuff IS NEEDED one day only when the need arises. As cliched as this anecdote sounds, the buses I saw this morning during rush hour were not full of commuters even with near 5.00 gas. I do not count GVSU, GRCC, or GRPL students who ride without having to pay a fare daily out of their own pockets because they are subsidized. One bus I am looking at as I type this just had 4 people get off, one get on, and 2 people on-board. This is in DT GR pre-9:00am. The Silverlive is slated to run through a part of the ITP zone that still has Googie architecture, little (none) in the way of actual destinations, no plans even speculated that mirror the development renderings showcased in some pro-millage videos, and was rejected by half of territory it is to run through. That route was not a need. That was a want.

I had said last year that they should have made a more tangible case with lots of actual people showing what will happen if things like this were instituted. Actual developments, actual changes. I would have jumped on-board easily.

Apparently they just opted to get just enough people to the polls in friendly parts of town on the feel good issue of mass transit, and that more money = a more awesome ITP, while conveniently shielding the defeated Silverline inside as almost a huge middle finger to voters. Again, it worked barely, which is not good enough.

Now if they can pack actual fare-paying folks onto the buses, cause all types of TOD to spring up, and reduce the number of cars by a huge margin, then I'll gladly eat my words. Maybe 8.00 gas might be their patron saint? Maybe a mass exodus (insodus?) from the suburbs to the city will be the thing? The clock is ticking.

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Well they got this thing shoved through, despite it being rejected last year. Well that is our process and all...

Now they are going to have to get past the nebulous rhetoric and actually prove that this poorly thought-out BRT is actually going to be more than a not much faster version of the bus that already runs the same route. They will have to show all of the people lining up to ride this thing as if it is a suburb outside of Chicago. They are going to have to show all of the development that springs up along the route, and all of the cars left behind by 60th street.

Because this thing passed by a paltry 100 votes and only by the help of central GR and EGR. This was no overwhelming mandate to create a vanity bus system to impress snooty out of towners that scoff at our “lack of sophistication”, or to just say we poured money into the ITP. This also had nothing to do with low-income people potentially losing access to the bus because existing service would not have been affected at all if this failed, or the elusive “young professionals” that supposedly looked in disgust at our “primitive” system that is apparently so bad that they rather drive cars than to use the bus routes that will be almost exactly the same even after this passed.*

*At least the ones I know personally never seem to take advantage of the ITP even though they all live in central (Uptown) GR, and drive to work downtown.

This thing is going to actually have to produce something tangible or else the next millage may well have the cash for this stuff stripped out. This is real money, from real people, that are real broke right now.

I still contend that this stuff IS NEEDED one day only when the need arises. As cliched as this anecdote sounds, the buses I saw this morning during rush hour were not full of commuters even with near 5.00 gas. I do not count GVSU, GRCC, or GRPL students who ride without having to pay a fare daily out of their own pockets because they are subsidized. One bus I am looking at as I type this just had 4 people get off, one get on, and 2 people on-board. This is in DT GR pre-9:00am. The Silverlive is slated to run through a part of the ITP zone that still has Googie architecture, little (none) in the way of actual destinations, no plans even speculated that mirror the development renderings showcased in some pro-millage videos, and was rejected by half of territory it is to run through. That route was not a need. That was a want.

I had said last year that they should have made a more tangible case with lots of actual people showing what will happen if things like this were instituted. Actual developments, actual changes. I would have jumped on-board easily.

Apparently they just opted to get just enough people to the polls in friendly parts of town on the feel good issue of mass transit, and that more money = a more awesome ITP, while conveniently shielding the defeated Silverline inside as almost a huge middle finger to voters. Again, it worked barely, which is not good enough.

Now if they can pack actual fare-paying folks onto the buses, cause all types of TOD to spring up, and reduce the number of cars by a huge margin, then I'll gladly eat my words. Maybe 8.00 gas might be their patron saint? Maybe a mass exodus (insodus?) from the suburbs to the city will be the thing? The clock is ticking.

I don't think you're going to see much of that. Or at least, the changes won't be visibly huge. I do however think it will increase ridership substantially on the South Division route, and there will be some infill development.

What would really get suburban areas to get more on board with transit is to provide them with something tangible. 45 minute rides from outlying areas into downtown are downright laughable, no matter what the cost of gas gets to. Particularly when you can get downtown GR in about 15 minutes door-to-door from many places. Also, many suburban commuters go suburb-to-suburb to areas not served by transit.

Lansing has 3 express commuter bus lines called "Limited" from Mason, Williamston and Okemos, that get downtown in about 20 minutes. Ann Arbor has added three commuter bus systems with park-n-rides, and the demand is growing quite rapidly for more lots. Why not here?

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (I learned recently) also pays for people to ride the bus. About $500,000 year is allocated to the "GoPass." Employers who sign up have to buy bus passes for all of their employees for $5/year/person (!), and then pass them out to employees. Gives the employees free access to any route at any time. When the program started about 7 or 8 years ago, about 2000 downtown workers used the program. Now about 6600 use it, and it's used by over 100 downtown AA businesses. $5/year/person is WAAAYYY cheaper to a downtown business owner than negotiating $100+/month with your employees for a parking space downtown. And $500,000/year spent by the DDA is way cheaper than buying, holding and maintaining a slew of surface parking lots.

Goes back to my idea of the DASH system being greatly downsized in downtown GR, and being slowly transitioned to further outlying areas.

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With the exception of the Silver Line this millage was sorely needed to bring the ITP service up to barely acceptable. If you look at what the millage will accomplish, most of the things are needed for people to count on this as basic transportation. the reason that you don't see the busses packed now is that they are next to worthless for commuting. the people you see are probably just doing the carless version of being out for a "sunday drive".

From the GRPress

HERE'S WHAT THE MILLAGE BUYS:

Total annual cost of proposed improvements: $3.7 million

The money would be used to pay for these improvements over five years:

• Increase weekday bus frequency to 30 minutes on all routes from 5 a.m. To 7:15 p.m.

• Run all routes until 11:15 p.m. weekdays

• Extend weekday evening service to 12:15 a.m. on the seven most productive routes

• Improve weekday peak frequency service to 15 minutes on the six next most productive routes

• Add Bus Rapid Transit on Division Avenue

• Extend Saturday evening service to 10 p.m. on all routes except Woodland Mall/Airport Route 17

• Extend GVSU Campus route to Central Station on weekdays at current frequency

• Increase weekday evening frequency to 30-minutes on six next most productive routes to 11:15 p.m.

• Increase weekday evening frequency to 30-minutes on seven most productive routes to 12:15 a.m.

If you aren't going to run bus service every thirty minutes then why have a bus a all. and for bus service to not run at 15 minute intervals (still too infrequent) at peak times is equally dumb. The increase still doesn't cover second shift workers except for the most heavily used routes. The silver line will be a nice bonus but this millage was desperately needed for those who actually rely on public transportation.

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With the exception of the Silver Line this millage was sorely needed to bring the ITP service up to barely acceptable. If you look at what the millage will accomplish, most of the things are needed for people to count on this as basic transportation. the reason that you don't see the busses packed now is that they are next to worthless for commuting. the people you see are probably just doing the carless version of being out for a "sunday drive".

From the GRPress

HERE'S WHAT THE MILLAGE BUYS:

Total annual cost of proposed improvements: $3.7 million

The money would be used to pay for these improvements over five years:

• Increase weekday bus frequency to 30 minutes on all routes from 5 a.m. To 7:15 p.m.

• Run all routes until 11:15 p.m. weekdays

• Extend weekday evening service to 12:15 a.m. on the seven most productive routes

• Improve weekday peak frequency service to 15 minutes on the six next most productive routes

• Add Bus Rapid Transit on Division Avenue

• Extend Saturday evening service to 10 p.m. on all routes except Woodland Mall/Airport Route 17

• Extend GVSU Campus route to Central Station on weekdays at current frequency

• Increase weekday evening frequency to 30-minutes on six next most productive routes to 11:15 p.m.

• Increase weekday evening frequency to 30-minutes on seven most productive routes to 12:15 a.m.

If you aren't going to run bus service every thirty minutes then why have a bus a all. and for bus service to not run at 15 minute intervals (still too infrequent) at peak times is equally dumb. The increase still doesn't cover second shift workers except for the most heavily used routes. The silver line will be a nice bonus but this millage was desperately needed for those who actually rely on public transportation.

I'm sure all of that is fine, if it was presented as such. However, what ticks most of us on the No side off is that the ITP took a proposal that was giving a no vote with a higher % than this got in the affirmative, and shoved it back at us again 1 year later. This time they padded it up with all of this other stuff which might be fairly reasonable, to blackmail fence-sitters into either taking the Silverline which we dont want, or losing all of the other stuff.

Everyone can clearly see that they basically said "screw you" to the voters from last year. Either they get their way, or you get nothing.

The fence-sitters swallowed the hook, and now we are all on the hook for that white elephant. They had better hope that the ITP zone takes to commuting on buses like nothing ever seen or the backlash will be enormous.

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I'm sure all of that is fine, if it was presented as such. However, what ticks most of us on the No side off is that the ITP took a proposal that was giving a no vote with a higher % than this got in the affirmative, and shoved it back at us again 1 year later. This time they padded it up with all of this other stuff which might be fairly reasonable, to blackmail fence-sitters into either taking the Silverline which we dont want, or losing all of the other stuff.

Everyone can clearly see that they basically said "screw you" to the voters from last year. Either they get their way, or you get nothing.

The fence-sitters swallowed the hook, and now we are all on the hook for that white elephant. They had better hope that the ITP zone takes to commuting on buses like nothing ever seen or the backlash will be enormous.

Kind of like the backlash against the South Beltline? :whistling: Maybe the Silver Line should've been $650 Million instead of $40 Mil and people wouldn't complain so much.

I don't think they did anything to "fool" fence sitters. The millage proposal, financially, was only 1/3 Silver Line and the rest were service enhancements based on a year long master planning process, involving public input. Plus, they cut the Silver Line operating cost by 1/3 from the proposal in 09 (not last year), including removing a number of proposed stops. I was not a fan of the Silver Line proposal in 09; it was much better this time around.

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Kind of like the backlash against the South Beltline? :whistling: Maybe the Silver Line should've been $650 Million instead of $40 Mil and people wouldn't complain so much.

I don't think they did anything to "fool" fence sitters. The millage proposal, financially, was only 1/3 Silver Line and the rest were service enhancements based on a year long master planning process, involving public input. Plus, they cut the Silver Line operating cost by 1/3 from the proposal in 09 (not last year), including removing a number of proposed stops. I was not a fan of the Silver Line proposal in 09; it was much better this time around.

hehe...when I hear arguments like this, it makes me think of Andreas Rohl, Director of Bicycle Planning for the City of Copenhagen. In his presentation he has a set of slides that show the respective HQs for the "Dept. of Roads and Highways", the "Dept of Mass Transit", and then the small corner offices where the planners who work on bicycle and pedestrian engineering work. The point is that bicycle facilities don't require large amounts of money, so they don't have large political lobbies and bureaucratic entities pushing for them among political policymakers. In Copenhagen, they've worked up to about 1/3 trips by transit, 1/3 bicycling, and 1/3 cars and walking. Certainly they achieved the 1/3 trips bicycling through a much smaller investment than the 1/3 by transit.

Sorry, a little off-topic. I think that they did improve the Silver Line proposal and then wrapped it in with the other improvements to make it more palatable to more voters. It worked, although certainly just barely. Obviously enough people thought the new plan was worth their vote. Did some people feel blackmailed into voting for the Silver Line because they wanted the other improvements? Probably. But that is how politics works. A bill through Congress might have things in it that some of the reps or their voters don't like...but they decide it has enough other stuff in it that they need to vote for it.

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What are the major differences in the Silver Line plan from 2009 until now? The only change I see is renaming the station between Burton and Hall "Cottage Grove" instead of "Crofton/Corrinne." Were there changes to the proposed service, like headways or types of vehicles?

Also, on the Rapid's webpage, the regional overview shows a stop at Monroe/Lyon and a stop at Ransom/Fountain, but the Downtown view just shows one at Ransom/Lyon and nothing in the DeVos Place/Calder Plaza area at all. Does anyone know which is accurate?

Edited by Khorasaurus1

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Is there a breakdown available of the voting results by city?

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What are the major differences in the Silver Line plan from 2009 until now? The only change I see is renaming the station between Burton and Hall "Cottage Grove" instead of "Crofton/Corrinne." Were there changes to the proposed service, like headways or types of vehicles?

Also, on the Rapid's webpage, the regional overview shows a stop at Monroe/Lyon and a stop at Ransom/Fountain, but the Downtown view just shows one at Ransom/Lyon and nothing in the DeVos Place/Calder Plaza area at all. Does anyone know which is accurate?

There's a big pdf on the Rapid's site from Feb. of this year that shows the changes in stations. Vision plan or something?

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Not one penny for direct downtown to airport service, not even on an infrequent basis. Yes, it was attempted before but back when passenger traffic was considerably less and before downtown revitalization. Not one penny for special event traffic mitigation either such as added bus service for Art Prize, New Year's Eve, Meijer Summer Series, ...

Now we're stuck with could be a possible fiscal black hole known as the Silver Line, but hey, M-6 has its detractors too, right?

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Not one penny for direct downtown to airport service, not even on an infrequent basis. Yes, it was attempted before but back when passenger traffic was considerably less and before downtown revitalization. Not one penny for special event traffic mitigation either such as added bus service for Art Prize, New Year's Eve, Meijer Summer Series, ...

An airport express bus is still part of the 2030 preferred scenario that was approved last June. I guess they're waiting for some future phase to implement it.

Speaking of commuter buses, they list several in the scenario too; express routes to Cedar Springs, Hudsonville, Byron, Ada, Caledonia. Those would be nice too, but I doubt there's any real demand for this yet.

Special event services: That would be nice. Would that have to be funded through the operating budget?

Edited by RegalTDP

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Not one penny for direct downtown to airport service, not even on an infrequent basis. Yes, it was attempted before but back when passenger traffic was considerably less and before downtown revitalization. Not one penny for special event traffic mitigation either such as added bus service for Art Prize, New Year's Eve, Meijer Summer Series, ...

Now we're stuck with could be a possible fiscal black hole known as the Silver Line, but hey, M-6 has its detractors too, right?

once the Silver line is established, it shouldn't cost that much more than a regular bus line. it is not like it runs on fairy tears. Hardly what I would call a black hole. I think you will find that the silver line will be be used much more than current bus service. It somewhat improves on one of the major flaws in bus service. mainly that it is excruciatingly slow and not practical as basic transportation.

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Not one penny for direct downtown to airport service, not even on an infrequent basis. Yes, it was attempted before but back when passenger traffic was considerably less and before downtown revitalization. Not one penny for special event traffic mitigation either such as added bus service for Art Prize, New Year's Eve, Meijer Summer Series, ...

Now we're stuck with could be a possible fiscal black hole known as the Silver Line, but hey, M-6 has its detractors too, right?

The "Air Porter" service ran from 2006 until 2008, well into downtown GR's revitalization period. There's virtually no demand for it. Compare that with thousands of people who ride the bus along the South Division corridor.

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The "Air Porter" service ran from 2006 until 2008, well into downtown GR's revitalization period. There's virtually no demand for it. Compare that with thousands of people who ride the bus along the South Division corridor.

2567 weekday boardings on the Division route in 2009 according to the Rapid. That's 1288 "commuters" per day. IMHO, that's not a lot of demand either. I agree with your comment "there's no demand' for airport service but it's a frequently repeated "need" by transit advocates.

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The "Air Porter" service ran from 2006 until 2008, well into downtown GR's revitalization period. There's virtually no demand for it. Compare that with thousands of people who ride the bus along the South Division corridor.

Almost 2.2 million passengers in 2010, a 24% increase over 2009 and that in turn was higher than 2008. Besides, '08 was not well into reviltalization. The new med school and DeVos Cancer Center were still under construction. Ditto for UICA and 38 Commerce. Art Prize was still a dream. 2.2 million potential fares and no demand! If this is indeed correct it is truly a sorry indictment of the community's lack of mass transit acceptance. Not exactly a factor which spurs optimism. Then again, maybe we're just overemphasizing the importance of downtown. It dominates our discussions when in fact it's a minor factor in the overall transport needs of the greater metro area as seen by the airport statistics.

http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local/kent_county/passenger-record-at-Ford-Airport

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Almost 2.2 million passengers in 2010, a 24% increase over 2009 and that in turn was higher than 2008. Besides, '08 was not well into reviltalization. The new med school and DeVos Cancer Center were still under construction. Ditto for UICA and 38 Commerce. Art Prize was still a dream. 2.2 million potential fares and no demand! If this is indeed correct it is truly a sorry indictment of the community's lack of mass transit acceptance. Not exactly a factor which spurs optimism. Then again, maybe we're just overemphasizing the importance of downtown. It dominates our discussions when in fact it's a minor factor in the overall transport needs of the greater metro area as seen by the airport statistics.

http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local/kent_county/passenger-record-at-Ford-Airport

I think the issue is is that Grand Rapids' downtown is not a large destination for business travelers flying into the area, so there's not a great enough need for people to travel from GRR to downtown and vice versa. Most people flying into GRR also probably need a car. And I think I read that most of the convention center attendees come from within 150 miles of Grand Rapids, not far enough to have to fly. Kent County's largest employment center is the area around the airport; I think nearly four times the square footage of commercial space than downtown.

But that doesn't speak to the fact that downtown has something like 15,000 workers and 20,000 or more students, who can be served by transit.

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But that doesn't speak to the fact that downtown has something like 15,000 workers and 20,000 or more students, who can be served by transit.

Tsk tsk. Hold up :stop: . Downtown GR currently is home to 36,000 office workers, 31,000 college students and a resident population approaching 5,000 people. It's actually a much more utilized hub than one would imagine. The opportunities to develop the greatly underutilized Southgate, Southriver, Arena District, Westbank City, Nortgate/North Monroe and Leonard Landing areas into peripheral hubs of Central Downtown GR are only going to dramatically increase the population density of the Grand River Valley and the associated demand for seamless mass transit in and out that will come with all of that. BRING IT.

Edited by metrogrkid

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Tsk tsk. Hold up :stop: . Downtown GR currently is home to 36,000 office workers, 31,000 college students and a resident population approaching 5,000 people. It's actually a much more utilized hub than one would imagine. The opportunities to develop the greatly underutilized Southgate, Southriver, Arena District, Westbank City, Nortgate/North Monroe and Leonard Landing areas into peripheral hubs of Central Downtown GR are only going to dramatically increase the population density of the Grand River Valley and the associated demand for seamless mass transit in and out that will come with all of that. BRING IT.

I may have been a little low on office workers, but I don't think it's 36,000. Where is that number from? There's currently about 5.4 Million square feet of general office space downtown. I'm not sure exactly, but I think they figure about 300 sf per person for office space, or 18,000. And from the river over to College and from I-196 down to about Wealthy, there's only 2166 residents (census 2010). More, obviously, if you add in Monroe North (maybe 600?).

But that s

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For those thinking light rail for Grand Rapids, take note.

Oops, wrong link, here ya go: http://www.urbanophile.com/2007/11/11/why-rail-transit-is-a-bad-idea-for-indianapolis/

(an older article, but still relevant today; maybe even moreso since Indianapolis population growth in the outlying areas has exploded more even since 2007)

I think Aaron Renn is one of the foremost thought leaders on everything "urban." If Indianapolis isn't set up for light rail, is GR?

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