Laker Line to launch in August

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The Laker Line will connect the GVSU Allendale campus to the GVSU Pew Campus and Michigan Street Medical Mile with stops along Lake Michigan Drive. Courtesy Ehren Wynder

The Rapid recently announced the official launch date of the Laker Line.

The Laker Line, which is the second bus rapid transit line for the state of Michigan and The Rapid, will launch on Aug. 24. The new BRT, which will replace The Rapid’s current Route 50 – Grand Valley State University Campus Connector, will connect the GVSU Allendale campus to the GVSU Pew Campus and Michigan Street Medical Mile with stops along Lake Michigan Drive.

Last year, Thomas Haas, former president of GVSU, said the Route 50 Campus Connector had almost 2.5 million riders in 2018.

When construction of the Laker Line was first announced, Andrew Johnson, CEO of The Rapid, expected the Laker Line would average 10,000 to 13,000 rides per day.

“All passengers throughout The Rapid’s service area will benefit from the Laker Line’s enhanced service,” Johnson said.

The Laker Line will serve the city of Walker, through West Fulton Street and into downtown Grand Rapids. Construction of the new BRT, totaling around $71 million, is being funded through support from the Federal Transit Administration and the state of Michigan with no additional cost for taxpayers. GVSU also will provide all operational funding, which is estimated to cost $3.5 million annually.

Construction on the Laker Line began in April 2019 and will continue through the summer. The public got its first glimpse of the Laker Line’s 60-foot articulated shuttle in June 2019, as the Business Journal previously reported. The 13 accordion-type buses are powered by compressed natural gas and are expected to arrive at each station every six minutes.

The Laker Line’s 14 platforms will provide well-lit shelters with level platform boarding, off-board fare collecting, real-time arrival signage and security phones and cameras. The Laker Line will share three existing downtown Silver Line stations, helping riders make connections to other routes and improving access throughout The Rapid’s system. GVSU students will ride fare-free, as well.

Planning for the Laker Line began in August 2013. The project received a favorable rating from the FTA competitive grant program for building enhanced transit. Funding for the project was received in January 2018 to finalize design and engineering.

The project also received $57 million in federal funds in 2016. The Laker Line was one of 31 transportation projects in 18 states recommended to receive a share of $3.5 billion in federal funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Program.

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