Cities are always changing. Can capital intensive infrastructure really meet GR's needs?
Grand Rapids has seen huge growth over the last eight years, a lot of that growth is fueled by townships outside of GR proper (1). Suburban growth contributes to GR's ingrained dependency on one car per person. In fact, just 6% of workers downtown don't use a car to get to work (2). And suburbs don't stop changing. Whether driven by overall population growth/decline in Kent County or families moving into/out of the urban center- our suburbs will always see population fluctuation. And with that fluctuation, our public transport needs to be flexible to meet changing demands.
Advancing our public transportation will also be expensive. An example is the Silver Line, opened in 2014, running from 54th Street/South Division to downtown (about 10 miles) and cost around $35 million in public funds. Projected to contribute $160 million in development, Division has seen little to no new investment. Projected to have 7,200 average weekday boarding's the service only saw 2,700 in the 2017 fiscal year (3). $35 million is a lot for a single inflexible bus line. Or Google the Qline in Detroit to see an expensive project having lower impact than expected.
GR needs better public transportation, but those options need to be dense (lots of options), efficient, and convenient to promote widespread usage. It also needs to be flexible to meet changing demands. Cars are just too convenient, especially in Grand Rapids where traffic (at least for now) isn't that bad.
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