President Trump’s budget blueprint recommends cutting Capital Investment Grants, the program that would fund stations, larger 60-foot buses, and other construction and technology investments for the Laker Line.
“The Laker Line was included in the FY17 administration budget, and received funding recommendations in both the House and Senate versions of the FY17 budget, so we are confident there has been agreement among the appropriators that this is a project that should move forward,” said Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid. “We’ve already had the project thoroughly vetted and received one of the highest ratings for any project considered for FY17 funding.”
The Laker Line, a bus rapid transit (BRT) project, would connect Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus with Medical Mile, serving key destinations in the cities of Walker and Grand Rapids along the way. In anticipation of the line, new development is planned along Lake Michigan Drive at the Cummings and Ferndale intersections and there will be a station for access to the Standale Trail. In downtown Grand Rapids, stations will be placed to serve employers large and small. Some of the stations will be shared with the Silver Line, improving connectivity and taking advantage of existing transit assets. The other end point of the route will be at Michigan and Lafayette, offering students, employees, and visitors an efficient, cost-effective way to commute from the west while reducing parking burdens on Medical Mile and in surrounding neighborhoods.
“This is an important project to our region’s economic health and mobility,” said Varga. “We are urging Congress to include FY17 projects that have funds recommended for appropriation so we can get the grant agreement to begin construction.”
The capital investment made in this project is expected to result in a 50 percent increase in the number of riders that can be served, which is important in comparison to the projected increase in population, employment, and enrollment, resulting in ridership demand along the line. Within one to two years of opening, ridership is projected to be at 13,000 daily, a 23 percent increase over the existing Route 50 which is already operating in the corridor.
The project has been endorsed by a number of local entities, including businesses and economic development interests, local governments, educational institutions, and healthcare providers. A full list is provided below.
The operating costs of running the service will be provided by GVSU in a similar arrangement to the contract for service that currently funds the Route 50. No additional local or state funding is needed to operate the service.
Entities in Support of the Laker Line
- City of Grand Rapids
- City of Walker
- County of Kent
- County of Ottawa
- Disability Advocates of Kent County
- Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.
- Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
- Grand Valley State University
- Local First
- Meijer Corporation
- Michigan Department of Transportation
- Michigan State University—College of Human Medicine
- The Right Place
- Spectrum Health System
- Walker/Standale DDA
- West Fulton Business Association
- Westown Collaborative