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
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%
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
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