Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line launches today in Grand Rapids

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Grand Rapids, home to Michigan's first bus rapid transit line. (Ian Freimuth via Flickr)

Grand Rapids, home to Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line. (Ian Freimuth via Flickr)

Michigan‘s first bus rapid transit line launches this week, whisking passengers from downtown Grand Rapids through the city’s “Medical Mile” and south suburbs—a 9.6-mile journey that used to take 45 minutes will now be only a 27-minute commute, reported mlive.com.

The Silver Line, as it’s called, is offering free rides for one week from its starting date, Monday, August 25. After that a $1.50 rate applies. Supporters of the line say it’s an appropriate response to an uptick in ridership, and one that will replicate the success of Cleveland’s Health Line.

But some say the plan to run express buses—which are equipped with technology that keeps traffic lights green and dedicates bus-only lanes during rush hours—will lose money in the long-term. The Kent County Taxpayers Alliance asserted the service is redundant and expensive. At $40 million, the project is ten percent under budget, but still too pricey for opponents of the public transit investment.

Bus rapid transit is also contentious in Chicago, where plans to add two BRT lines along Ashland and Western Avenues are still in planning phases.

If the Silver Line is a success, it could boost the chances of realizing a 12-mile “Laker Line” between Grand Rapids and Grand Valley State University. That project is currently the subject of a study.

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