The Rapid Views 'Spectrum Run'

August 30, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Beginning Oct. 1, Spectrum Health employees working downtown will be able to use their Spectrum employee ID as a bus pass to hitch a ride to work on The Rapid.

The Interurban Transit Partnership approved a six-month pilot program with Spectrum Wednesday to give Spectrum employees alternative transportation options and help alleviate parking shortages in the Michigan Street hill area. 

Spectrum Health approached The Rapid with the proposal. The Rapid will bill Spectrum the average passenger fare of 85 cents per ride up to a maximum of $16,200 per month or a six-month total of $97,200. The maximum monthly cost is based on the 85-cent rate applied to an estimated 1,200 Spectrum employees who work downtown, live within one-quarter mile of a bus route and are expected to ride The Rapid an average of two times per week.  

Conrad Venema, planning and grants manager, said Spectrum employees are "feeling the crunch" of the parking squeeze in the Michigan Street hill area. About 45 percent of Spectrum's Butterworth campus employees have access to the fixed route bus system, he said, and he anticipates 25 percent of them will take advantage of the pilot.

For more than a year now, Spectrum Health employees have also had the option of participating in GreenRide, a ride-share program that connects Spectrum employees with co-workers looking to share rides to and from work. GreenRide is a software application that's accessible through The Rapid's Web site free of charge to residents of Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties.

Executive Director Peter Varga said The Rapid is pleased with how well GreenRide is working for the Spectrum employees who use it. 

"But we need to do something more than that, especially on Michigan Street hill where the constraints and the costs of building parking is higher than any other area of the city," Varga observed. 

Varga said at this time The Rapid is only capable of taking on one large contract like the Spectrum contract. He said the bus fare boxes will have to be enabled with the right code to accept Spectrum ID badges.    

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