Obama’s budget includes money for ‘Silverline’ rapid bus transit

Feb 16, 2011

Public transportation officials in Grand Rapids are excited about one detail in President Obama’s budget announced this week. A proposed rapid bus transit system in Grand Rapids is one of ten new construction projects that Obama would like to fund in 2012.

Rapid bus transit is designed to run as quickly as a light rail system, but without the train or the tracks.

Peter Varga is CEO of The Rapid. He’s quick to note the budget will have to be approved by a congress that’s looking to cut federal spending.

 “But this is a really good sign because if there are federal new starts money than we will be able to access the funds and get a grant."

The federal government would pay for 80% of the $37 million dollar project. The state would cover the remaining 20%. The project also hinges on support of local voters this spring.

The Silverline would alleviate congestion on one of the busiest bus routes into town. The Division Avenue route is the most popular outside of those specifically for university students. It takes people from Grand Rapids’ southern suburbs into the city.

With the Silverline rapid bus transit, Varga says those workers will have a fast, direct link from the suburbs to the middle of the city and the growing medical mile

“It’s very different from what we have now. Because now people would have to take a slower bus, go to downtown, change, and then go up to medical mile. If you stood on the platform you might expect a light rail train but you’re going to get bus rapid transit because it’s cheaper."