The Interurban Transit Partnership (ITP), the organization responsible for operating the Public Transportation Authority of Grand Rapids Metro Area (The Rapid), awarded New Flyer a new contract for 16 heavy-duty, sixty-foot Xcelsior® compressed natural gas (CNG) transit buses (32 equivalent units or “EUs”).
The 16 new articulated buses will support Grand Rapids’ second new bus rapid transit (BRT) line, with funding provided by the Federal Transit Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The Rapid has experienced a ridership increase of seven million since 2000 due to population growth, route development, and smart, transit-wide improvements including BRT. With BRT, wait times have decreased, area congestion has reduced, and economic development has increased.
“What the Laker Line will offer is larger buses that can carry more riders, making the route more efficient,” said Michael Bulthuis, spokesman for The Rapid. “The articulated BRT buses can carry up to 50% more passengers than the forty-foot buses that currently operate on Route 50.”
Recent initiatives by The Rapid will also add transit signal priority and electronic fare technology, which The Rapid is calling The Wave, to improve route and boarding times and create a smarter, more convenient transit system.
The Interurban Transit Partnership of the Grand Rapids Metro Area serves six cities with transit bus, paratransit, vanpool, and BRT. More than one-third of the agency’s buses will be converted to CNG by 2020 with goals to convert the entire fleet by 2027, creating a more environmentally friendly transportation network.