The Rapid and the City of Grand Rapids unveiled a new plan to roll out what will become Michigan’s largest fleet of environmentally friendly buses and that will soon be servicing downtown and greater Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The new buses will operate on clean-burning CNG instead of diesel. Bus riders will see 33 of the alternative fuel vehicles in 2017, including 28 in service for The Rapid on bus lines throughout Greater Grand Rapids and five for the City’s free DASH shuttle service in Downtown operated by The Rapid.
Plans call for The Rapid’s 150-vehicle fleet to include 92 CNG buses by 2021, which will make up Michigan’s largest system of natural gas-powered buses. The City plans to purchase an additional four CNG vehicles in 2018 for the DASH and replace its entire fleet of diesel-fueled DASH buses over the next three years.
“This investment demonstrates an important collaboration of innovative partners within our community, using the most sustainable, clean, cost-effective and safe products on the market for transportation solutions,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, during a news conference at the city’s Sixth Street Bridge Park, where the new buses were on display.
In 2015, The Rapid board approved a $13 million contract funded entirely through federal and state grants to buy 28 40-foot-long CNG buses. The acquisition funds came from a $10.4 million Federal Transit Administration grant, as well as a $2.6 million grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The Grand Rapids City Commission approved the $2.3 million purchase of five 35-foot-long DASH CNG buses entirely with local funds. Both orders are through Gillig, a leading bus manufacturer based in California.