Limited funding and old contract may prevent expansion of bus route
Rapid's 'hands are tied' says Student Senate
Members of Student Senate met with The Rapid Bus Company last week to discuss options for expanding the current bus route, but it will take more than just one meeting to extend the lines. Right now, options are limited.
Vice President of the Political Affairs Committee Andrew Plague and Senator Madelaine Cleghorn presented a resolution that would expand the bus routes to reach more off-campus housing, specifically the housing developments being constructed on Pierce Street.
“Overall (they) thought that it was a good idea. However, their hands are kind of tied at the moment because of federal funding, which is what supports The Rapid,” Cleghorn said.
The Rapid estimated that it would cost about $200,000 to expand the route to include the new housing developments.
“The money’s just not there to expand a route at this time,” Cleghorn said. “If they were to expand this route, it would be taking away from another route, or making the buses run less frequently.”
Although the expansion would allow buses to reach more students, the senate isn’t willing to risk slowing down the current bus system.
“That’s not the point, we want to do what’s best for the body,” Cleghorn said.
Grand Valley State University administrators’ hands are also tied. The current contract with The Rapid states that the bus route will not go past 48th Avenue.
With the upcoming expansions of off-campus student housing, Cleghorn said she is hoping that the increased need will help change the contract.
She plans to find out how great the need is by conducting a survey similar to the Laker Line Study being done by The Rapid.
“I’m going to bring surveys to all of the Greek community that’s going to be living in the new housing developments next year to see what percentage of them would use the bus if it would go there,” Cleghorn said.
She will give those numbers to GVSU operations managers to see if that will influence some of the decisions from the administration.
In the meantime, The Rapid personnel who met with Cleghorn and Plague are going to take the proposal to their administration to see if a compromise can be reached.
“We’re going to keep in contact with them,” Cleghorn said. “The political affairs committee is going to make sure that we keep that relationship strong.”
Until further plans can be made, Cleghorn said the best thing students can do if they want to see the bus route expand is participate in The Rapid’s Laker Line Study at www.lakerline.org.
“If we can get all Grand Valley Students to do this, I really think that (The Rapid) might be able to change some things or at least get some more federal funding,” Cleghorn said.