Proposed Rapid Route would Deliver Benefits Akin to Light Rail

Grand Rapids Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

The Rapid and transit advocates are encouraging area voters to approve a millage on May 5 that would secure $40 million in state and federal funding for a new “Silver Line” bus rapid transit (BRT) route. Supporters say that the route will deliver the efficiency of light rail at a fraction of the price.

The Silver Line would be a 9.87-mile route with 19 stops. Busses would come every 10 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes during off-peak hours. The busses would run in their own lanes and would be able to bypass some traffic signals. To further increase efficiency, riders would purchase tickets at bus stops rather than on the bus, as is the case with other Rapid routes. On top of it, the system will use hybrid busses.

Division Avenue was chosen for a number of reasons including current ridership, economic development potential, public input, and travel time savings. Since it runs parallel to US-131, it draws on high-value traffic and has the potential to bring people from adjacent communities into downtown.

According to the site, the route would benefit the community in many ways:

“Beyond easing traffic, reducing air pollution and enhancing the ability to move about in the metro area without cars, the Silver Line will have a tremendous economic impact on the region. First, it will create both temporary and permanent construction, technical and professional jobs. Roadway and station construction will add significant employment opportunities, as will the service jobs needed to run the line. Using an estimate of 405 permanent jobs and an average annual wage $37,000 per job, the total annual wage creation will be almost $15 million. Second, as development kicks in along the corridor, we estimate that return on Silver Line investment could be as high as 400%. According to a University of Michigan study the return on investment of the BRT in Cleveland has been estimated at a 1000%. In cities like Kansas City and York, Ontario, the return on investment was somewhere between 300% and 400%. The lowest return on a BRT system today has been in Pittsburg – and that was still an impressive 115%.”

A “yes” vote on the millage would secure $40 million in state and federal funding for the project. It’s estimated to cost the owner of a home with an assessed value of $100,000 $4.66 per month. Voting in favor of the millage would renew a previously levied millage and increase that millage by 0.16 mills–or $0.75 per month. The millage would go into effect in 2012 and would expire in 2016 (official ballot text).

To learn more, visit RapidSilverLine.org and RapidYes.org.

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Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org