Guest Column

Transit system helps Walker’s citizens move freely

October 15, 2012
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Walker residents are facing an important decision about bus service for the city this November. It is important to our citizens’ and community’s future for several reasons:

Value: Everyone has learned to expect great value for the money they spend. Four years of a sluggish economy have convinced all of us to spend wisely and expect more in return. We cut coupons, we watch gas prices, we shop re-sale, we watch our utilities expenses. Keeping The Rapid bus service in Walker offers great value for the dollars we spend.

Economic opportunity: Our agreement with The Rapid makes us part of an important regional system. It’s a system that attracts new business and supports economic development.  It’s a system that brings workers together with employers and businesses together with shoppers. It’s a system that empowers people to be independent and reduces our carbon footprint. And it’s a system that joins us together in common values to create a region where our children want to live and work.

Access: The Rapid creates access for all of our citizens to work, church, civic activities and the arts. All of us likely know someone who does not or cannot drive a car. Without The Rapid, their access throughout our community will be limited and their lifestyle negatively changed. Even our youth are looking to us to provide mass transit. The numbers of youth choosing to get a driver’s license drops every year as they gain awareness of vehicle cost, environmental impact and social impact. To remain attractive to future residents, we must preserve access.

The average cost to a Walker resident for all of this positive return is about 27 cents a day! That’s less than a postage stamp, but infinitely more important. Stopping the bus service will end opportunities for people to work. Some will return to general assistance and other public support, the very opposite outcome our community would desire. And that is a much more costly outcome than what we now support.

Walker is a values-driven community. We care about our quality of life. I am a Walker resident. It is a community my husband and I chose to live in and to buy a home for our family. Losing the bus service in Walker would alter a critical aspect of the community as an important part of the larger West Michigan picture. We should keep business growing; preserve people’s independence; help to care for our environment.

I urge you to vote no on the proposal to end The Rapid service in Walker.

Kathy Crosby is a Walker resident and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids. She is the 2011 Athena Award winner.

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