Laker Line included in federal budget proposal

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The Laker Line initiative would offer students and riders enhanced transportation options between the Allendale and Pew Grand Rapids campuses, with a shorter ride time and better schedule consistency.

Funding for The Laker Line will receive $57 million if the federal budget receives approval. The U.S. Transportation secretary announced Wednesday that funding for the project is included in President Obama’s 2017 budget.

The new bus rapid transit (BRT) line would connect the Allendale Campus with the downtown Pew Campus and the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences on Medical Mile.

Enhancements include increasing capacity by utilizing larger, articulated buses; installing sheltered and raised bus stations; and improving connectivity via traffic signal priority.

"We are excited to see this in the proposed budget," said Lisa Haynes, assistant vice president for Operations for the Pew Campus and Regional Centers. "The articulated buses proposed will increase capacity to meet the ongoing demand of ridership."

Haynes said funding would be used to build stations that look more like light rail stations with seats, shelters snowmelt and raised platforms so riders don't have to step up to get on the bus. She said the articulated buses would have dual boarding with wider doors for quicker boarding. 

Grand Valley accounts for more than three million annual rides on the Rapid bus system and offers a variety of alternative transportation services including car sharing, bike rentals, ride sharing, commuter parking and transit services.

The Rapid’s most popular route is the Route 50 bus between downtown Grand Rapids and the Allendale Campus. It carries between 9,000 and 11,000 riders every weekday.