Meeting Minutes — Grand Rapids – October 18, 2014

OCTOBER 18, 2014

Members Present: Larry Krieg, Warren R. Fritz, Rick Burn, Kathleen Newell, Kay Chase, Jim Wallington, Clark Charnetski, John Langdon, Don Monteith, Chuck Merckel, Jean Merckel, Dan Platz, Roger Marrissett, Ed Heckman, Hugh Gurney, John McKibben, Rosemary Horvath, Tim Hoeffner, Charles Shong, Al Koole, Eric Elliott, Richard A. Horvitz, David Williams, Bob Tischbein and Jim Hinkins.

Guests: Michael Bulthuis (The Rapid), Ronald B. Day, and Adam Tauno Williams.

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 10:00 AM by chair Larry Krieg.

Executive Committee Minutes: Minutes of the August 19, 2014 Executive Committee Meeting were approved unanimously.

Membership Meeting Minutes: Minutes of the July 19, 2014 Membership Meeting in Traverse City were approved.

Appointment of New At-Large Executive Committee Member: This would fill a vacancy created when Jim Wallington became Vice Chair.

Resolution: Don Wescott shall be appointed as an Executive Committee Member At-Large with responsibility for coordinating meetings.

Moved by John Langdon and seconded by Jim Wallington.

Motion passed unanimously.

Future Meetings (Jim Wallington): January 10, 2015 at the former Grand Trunk station in Lansing. The February 2015 meeting is tentatively planned for Clara’s Restaurant in Battle Creek. The March 2015 meeting will be at the Kalamazoo Library or the transit authority headquarters in Kalamazoo.

Outreach (Chuck Merckel): Volunteers are needed for events. See sign-up sheets. At events, attendees are encouraged to sign up for on-line editions of “On Track” via e-mail. More than 200 people now receive “On Track” by this method.

Feature Presentation “The Silver line—Michigan’s First Bus Rapid Transit”

Michael Bulthuis, Public Outreach Coordinator for The Rapid, gave a Power Point presentation: “The Silver Line—Michigan’s First Bus Rapid Transit.” From planning to startup has taken more than ten years. Operations commenced on August 25, 2014. The 9.6 mile route starts at a 200-space park and ride lot at 60th Street on the south end of the line, goes north on Division Avenue to the “Medical Mile” on the north end, then west and south past the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and ends at the Central Station of The Rapid.

Division Avenue was chosen because it is a long street with the most cross-town bus transfer points, and some portions of the route are ripe for economic development. The existing bus Route #1 continues to operate as a local bus on Division. BRT vehicles stop only at stations with high level platforms (14 to 15 inches above the roadway) so that passengers do not have to climb stairs. This speeds up boarding and exiting, and makes life easier for those using wheelchairs and walkers. Lighted platforms are sixty feet long and use ramps for access from sidewalks if necessary. Shelters at each station are either 36 or 48 feet long, depending upon the number of passengers handled and the geometry of the site.

Stations are spaced approximately one-half mile apart, although they are closer together in the downtown area. They are nearly identical in appearance. Each station has heated platforms, ticket vending and validation machines, emergency telephones, benches and bike racks. An electronic sign announces arriving buses and how many minutes until the next one. On-board roving ticket inspectors enforce ticket regulations. The standard fare is $1.50 one way with free transfers.

The ten hybrid vehicles used in Silver Line service have their own unique green paint scheme and are similar to buses used on other routes, except that they do not have fare boxes or the pull cords for requesting stops. Passengers may board either at front or rear doors. All BRT buses stop at all stations. Visual and auditory announcements indicate station approaches. A Traffic Signal Priority system reduces delays at stoplights. During rush hours the right traffic lane is for buses and automobile right turns only. An end to end ride takes just over 30 minutes. Buses run on ten minute headways during rush hour and have 38 seats made by American Seating. Standees give each bus a capacity of 70 passengers.

The capital cost of the Silver Line was $40 million. The Division Avenue Route #1 bus continues to operate as a local bus with separate stops about a quarter mile apart. Ridership on that route is roughly the same as before the Silver Line, but Silver Line patronage is approximately the same as that of Route #1. Therefore transit use on Division Avenue has doubled, though some BRT passengers use the Route #1 buses as feeders to the Silver Line.

The Silver Line gives Southeast Michigan a taste of the three or four RTA bus rapid transit lines proposed for the Metro Detroit area, including Woodward Avenue between Pontiac and Detroit. The Rapid is now studying a second BRT route from Allendale (the home of Grand Valley State University) to Grand Rapids, a distance of 13 miles, to be called the Laker Line. Additional information can be found at

Trans4m’s Budget-Based Dues Structure: Larry Krieg explained that Trans4m will be instituting a dues structure and is seeking the opinion of members as to whether is should be a flat rate or based upon the size of each member’s budget.

Resolution: MARP shall endorse a budget-based dues structure for Trans4m.

Moved by Hugh Gurney and seconded by David Williams.

The motion passed.

Sharing of Membership Lists by NARP and MARP: Should MARP share membership lists with NARP? Presently MARP states that it will not share member information with any outside party.

Resolution: MARP shall exchange membership data with NARP annually until further notice after informing the membership with the annual membership renewal notice.

Moved by David Williams and seconded by John Langdon.

The motion passed by a vote of 18 to 1.

Treasurer’s Report (Jean Merckel): MARP has gained 8 new members.

The Pratt Fund was discussed by members. Warren Fritz advised that a more diversified investment would be more likely to yield a better return than a single fund and suggested that MARP place the Pratt Fund money into at least two funds Other members indicated that they believed that it is time to transfer the funds as had been previously approved by the Executive Committee and that Mr. Fritz’s suggestion could be implemented at a later time. The previous action of the Executive Committee will be carried out.

FRA Study of Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac Corridor: Written responses to the FRA study are due by December 19, 2014. What shall be the response of MARP?

Resolution: That MARP form a committee of three or more members to draft a written statement to be submitted to the FRA by December 19, 2014, regarding the Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac passenger rail corridor Environmental Impact Statement.

Moved by John Langdon and seconded by Chuck Merckel.

The motion was approved unanimously.

New Grand Rapids Amtrak Station: The station is due to open Sunday evening, October 26, 2014, with a ceremony in November.

New Dearborn Amtrak Station: Due to open on Monday, December 15 2014.

Algoma Central Threat of Discontinuance: Kay Chase reported on her recent trip on the threatened Algoma Central train from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst. Postcards urging the continuation of train service are still available to be sent to members of Parliament.

Next Meeting: Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM at the Port Huron Museum of Arts and History Carnegie Center, 1115 Sixth Street, Port Huron MI 48060. Phone 810-982-0891.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 12:25 PM.

Submitted by Clark Charnetski

Tour of New Grand Rapids Amtrak Station:

Following the MARP meeting, members and guests were treated to a preview tour of the new Vernon J. Ehlers Grand Rapids Amtrak station. It is located just south of The Rapids Central Station, thus allowing for easy transfer between modes. It replaces the thirty-year-old “temporary” station on Wealthy Street.

The brick, metal and glass building has an airy feeling with large windows and glass doors facing the train platform on the south side of the station. The platform has a canopy the length of the platform that is 15 inches above top of rail, which is seven inches higher than most other stations in Michigan. It is nearly level to the lower floor of Superliner cars and the new cars on order for Michigan. Grand Rapids is the first Amtrak station in Michigan to have such high platforms, though the new Dearborn station, which is expected to open in December, will also have that height. Grand Rapids is a stub end station with one track and provision for a second.

The automobile and taxi pick up and drop off drive is on the north end of the station which has a clock tower. The 115-space long-term parking lot is between the train station and The Rapid’s Central Station. The heated lobby will be open longer hours than the station itself and will contain a ticket machine. The interior of the station has accessible restrooms and a room for train crews. Its address is 440 Century Avenue SW 49503.