Letter to the editor - Bus Route
The new Route 50 and the loss of a great connection
As an off-campus commuter for three years at Grand Valley, I have witnessed firsthand how Route 50 interacts with connecting routes and the Rapid Central Station. Therefore, I am very disappointed to discover that Route 50 will no longer go to Central Station this fall, but instead will be making a few more stops after Pew Campus before making its final stop at the CHS Building. Efficiency and speed is the focus of the new Route 50, but I feel that it is a great oversight eliminating Central Station as part of the route. However, the new Route 50 states that commuters can connect to the route via Route 12 and the Silverline. Having been familiar with making connections at Central Station, and having to connect to Route 12 on multiple occasions, I know that this takes away efficiency and speed for commuter students.
I have looked at routes 4, 5, 6, 10, and 16, routes that I believe are used frequently by commuters, and compared their approximate arrival times to Central Station with the Central Station departure time of Route 12. Routes 4, 5, 6, and 10 arrive at Central Station roughly every five minutes past the hour and every thirty-five minutes past the hour. However, Route 12 departs from Central Station on the hour and half-past the hour, thus giving commuters a twenty-five minute wait. Compare this to the potential fifteen minute wait that a student has from Allendale Campus and arriving to the Lake Michigan & Seward stop for Route 51 to the CHS building. As a commuter myself and a Rapid rider in general, I know that trying to transfer routes can be an annoyance, as the routes don’t always line up, and one can be stuck with over fifteen minutes of waiting, and especially in rough weather this wait can be difficult to stand through. Nevertheless, the large commuter population is left with a twenty-five minute wait time in getting to Pew Campus from Central Station as opposed to those who may have a fifteen minute maximum wait time for the Route 51 bus to get to Lake Michigan and Seward. Keep in mind that the commuters have already taken one bus to get to Central Station, and then add on a twenty-five minute wait to the commute from Pew Campus to Allendale Campus, leaving commuter students with long day of travelling just to get from home to school and then back again (Now I know that many students already have to take either Route 48 or 37 to catch the 50, but those routes are short and buses come quite frequently compared to other Rapid routes that the commuters take.). I also acknowledge the fact that the Silverline bus does run more frequently than Route 12 (every 20 minutes), but the point of the matter is that commuters shouldn’t have to have this additional transfer/wait time added to their commute.
Furthermore, the ability to connect to so many different routes at Central Station presents students living in Allendale with the ability to connect to so many parts of Grand Rapids, whether it be for volunteer and internship opportunities, as well as jobs. Making the ability to get to these places more of a nuisance for students closes them off from potential and beneficial opportunities. I understand that Grand Valley has many students whose area of study brings them to the CHS Building and that catching transfer and having to take multiple buses to get to class can get annoying, yet commuters take multiple buses a day too, and they also have a noticeable presence amongst Grand Valley’s population as well.
It’s easy to be skeptical of change before it even happens, but as an experienced bus rider and student commuter, I think that the elimination of the Central Station stop is a mistake and shows a lack of regard for those who have chosen for various reasons to commute to school. I look forward to finding out how this new route will affect my fellow commuters and if it really is the best decision for the future of Route 50.