Opposition to Transit Renewal Launches its Campaign in Kent County

Today, the Kent County Taxpayers Alliance (KCTA) announced the official launch of Kent Transit in Action. Kent Transit in Action is organized to oppose the upcoming tax renewal for the Interurban Transit Partnership (ITP), also known as The Rapid.

“Despite ridership data showing the wide presence of empty buses operating throughout the bus system wasting taxpayer dollars to transport little to no passengers,” said spokesman Eric Larson, “The Rapid is pushing for an extended renewal of the millage on municipalities throughout Kent County, including Grand Rapids, Walker, Grandville, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, and Wyoming.”

The Rapid has continued to expand the number of buses and lines operating over the past five years despite a nearly 10% fall in ridership since its peak. At the time of the razor thin 64 renewal vote margin in 2011, buses carried almost 7.5 people on the bus. Today that number has fallen to less than 6.4.

“With the adoption of the Silverline,” Larson continued, “more and more traffic is shoved into fewer and fewer lanes, as Rapid buses close down Division Avenue and Monroe Avenue lanes during rush hour. Far from relaxing the little congestion there already is in Grand Rapids, Rapid bus lanes have only made traffic worse.”

These issues pale in comparison to the exorbitant cost posed by the proposed tax renewal. Should this measure pass, taxpayers will be subsidizing the Rapid’s operations to the tune of nearly $15 million annually. From the 1.47 mils proposed to levy, 0.5 mils (nearly $5 million a year) would fund the Silver Line.

The Silver Line, which has notoriously failed to live up to grandiose promises of speed and ridership, doesn’t even traverse a number of communities purportedly served by The Rapid, including Grandville, Walker, and East Grand Rapids, with only token stops in Kentwood and Wyoming.

The Kent County Taxpayer Alliance urges a NO vote on the upcoming Rapid tax renewal.