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The Rapid logo

 

TRANSIT HISTORY IN GRAND RAPIDS

Public transportation has existed in Grand Rapids for 130 years, beginning with horse drawn carriages, then electric cable cars and finally rubber tired buses. Until 1963 all service was provided by privately operated companies; in 1963 the Grand Rapids Transit Authority was formed by the City of Grand Rapids, under which the City appointed a five-person governing board to set policy; they leased assets (buses, related equipment and personnel) from Grand Rapids City Coach Lines (CCL), a private management company, and retained them to manage and operate the system.

In 1968 Grand Rapids began underwriting the transit system in the form of payments to CCL due to the steady loss in passenger revenue and riders. In 1972 this was supplemented by operating assistance from the State of Michigan and in 1974 further aided by general operating assistance from the Federal Government. Realizing that transit needs cross political boundaries, a regional transit authority was formed in July of 1978.  The Grand Rapids Area Transit Authority (GRATA) was a voluntary association of local governments, established to provide public transportation services to the cities of East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker, Wyoming and the townships of Byron and Gaines.  Service was also provided on a contract basis to the townships of Ada, Alpine, Cascade, and Plainfield.  GRATA was governed by a Board of Directors.   The Board was comprised of 18 members, the number from each jurisdiction being proportional to its share of the total population. Board members were elected officials or citizens of the community and were appointed by their respective member governments.

Demand activated service began in 1975 using small buses to serve the elderly and disabled population. This service, known as GO!Bus, has continued to grow and today represents a significant element in ITP's family of services. In 1991 the now defunct GRATA took on the responsibility for ridesharing programs, including carpooling and vanpooling. 

In January, 2000, the Interurban Transit Partnership (ITP) was formed by the cities of Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker, and Wyoming under the Act 196 of the Public Acts of the State of Michigan.  The ITP was formed to allow for a much needed expansion of public transportation in the Greater Grand Rapids area.  The ITP board is comprised of 15 members.  Board members were appointed by their respective member governments.  Grand Rapids has five (5) board members and each of the other cities have two (2) board members.

Act 196 allowed the ITP to go to the voters for a millage election to support the funding of public transportation.  On April 11, 2000, a millage election was held in the six cities asking for a .75 mil for public transportation.  The millage to support existing and enhanced public transportation services passed by a 65% margin.

As a result, on October 2, 2000, an improvement plan was implemented in the six cities.  Extended service was offered during the week until 11:30 p.m. for GO!Bus and on nine of ITP's existing routes.  Sunday, October 8, 2000 marked the opening of service on Sunday on GO!BUS and on seven routes from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Increased service frequencies were offered after the "S" Curve construction.  Business Transportation Services has provided matching funds to develop specialized employment transportation for employers with needs beyond regular service hours and routes.  Future enhancements include: A residential connector, known as Passenger Adaptive Surburban Service (PASS), utilizing smaller vehicles operating from suburban connection centers will pick up customers at their homes and connect them to the route service.  A new crosstown route will be added traveling along 44th Street in the cities of Grandville, Wyoming, Kentwood, and Grand Rapids.

When it was clear that the millage had passed and ITP would assume control of the transit district, a committee made up of Board members and staff was created to develop a logo and identity for ITP. When reviewing several logos that were based on the letters "ITP", the committee concluded that the acronym "ITP" itself was difficult to relate to the mission. It is not meaningful to users or the community and does not provide an immediate and intuitive connection to public transportation. The committee then began looking at brand names for the service. Several choices were considered and discussed, but from the beginning, The Rapid was the clear favorite. The full Board unanimously approved the committee’s recommendation and we have proceeded with the change.

The current ITP service area comprises approximately 452 square miles and has an estimated population of 420,000.

[Go to About ITP financials page to find out more about cost of services]

   

The Rapid is an equal opportunity employer

Last revised: 02/12/2004
URL:  www.ridetherapid.org
    Interurban Transit Partnership
300 Ellsworth Street S.W.
Grand Rapids, MI  49503-4005
Phone:  616-456-7514
Fax:  616-456-1941
 
The Operations and Maintenance Center
333 Wealthy Street S.W.
Grand Rapids, MI  49503-4018
Phone:  616-456-7514
Fax:  616-456-6858

 

To contact us for information regarding The Rapid schedules:
Information line:  616-776-1100
TDD line:  616-774-1186
Email: 
info@ridetherapid.org