Silver Line’s potential economic impact is unprecedented
The long-awaited, challenging construction of the bus rapid transit line is reaching completion this month and deserves community-wide plaudits even before its official first runs in August. The Business Journal notes the Silver Line is a “first” in the state of Michigan, and the project is a “first” in several other important regards:
— It is on time.
— It is under budget.
— It will be an economic stimulus not only for downtown Grand Rapids but also the suburban communities along the Division Avenue corridor, extending out to 60th street in Gaines Township.
— In addition to the economic stimulus, property values along the routes in other U.S. cities have proven to dramatically increase.
Existing businesses — and those to be newly created along the line — are well served by the transportation provided to the workforce.
The Business Journal in particular lauds the leadership of The Rapid CEO Peter Varga, whose tenacity through community approvals, federal Department of Transportation red tape and approvals, and unending pursuit of grant funding deserve recognition.
The Rapid transit agency has garnered many national awards and recognitions — and a record ridership level that was unanticipated.
Varga’s job now will be continued vigilance of costs and revenues, and the city of Grand Rapids should review how it can assist that effort: One revenue option is station and onboard bus advertising, but city ordinances prevent that capture. Discussion of a workaround would be advantageous.
Even before the first Silver Line makes its first run between the 34 stations, The Rapid has been asked to consider a second line, connecting Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus with its downtown Grand Rapids campuses. The need for a BRT Laker Line already has been demonstrated if one uses the measurement of current ridership by students and faculty in traditional Rapid buses. Such an addition also could serve other college and university campuses in the downtown, including Grand Rapids Community College. Transit officials note such lines are advantageous to the institutions, saving costly parking expenditures for lots and upkeep.
The business community is ready to board.