Cascade Township, Hope Network pursuing transportation solutions
The township is hosting an important stakeholder meeting from 8 a.m.-9 a.m. Wednesday, August 9, 2023 at the Wisner Center inside the Cascade library to help answer questions and gain feedback from business owners on transportation needs along the 28th Street corridor in Cascade.
CASCADE -- With the impending loss of Rapid bus service in Cascade, township officials are aggressively pursuing transportation solutions to ensure regular bus users can continue to get to their jobs.
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Cascade is in the process of forging a partnership with local nonprofit Hope Network - headquartered right here in Grand Rapids - to subsidize an expansion of their current Ride to Work program to service those in need of public transportation options along the township’s 28th Street commercial corridor.
Any agreement will not be a simple replacement of Rapid Route 29. The Ride to Work program is just as the title implies - a way for those without other transportation options to get to work. To ensure this new system runs efficiently and effectively for those who need it most, only those needing rides to and from their employer in Cascade will be eligible for this bus service.
“We’re not seeking to create a carbon copy of Rapid Route 29,” said Cascade Township Supervisor Grace Lesperance. “Partnering with Hope and our local businesses, we aim to tailor Ride to Work to the needs of Cascade’s employers and their workforce.”
Details are being carefully worked out between township officials, the township’s Downtown Development Authority (which will fund the subsidy), and the Hope Network. Once a contract is drawn up, routes, times, and subsidies are determined, the township and Hope will make an official announcement.
“We understand this is a stressful situation for those affected by this change,” said Cascade Township Interim Manager Ted Andrzejewski. “Please rest assured we’re moving swiftly to make sure that come Aug. 28, people who make their living in Cascade can continue to do so seamlessly.”
Transportation meeting for business owners
To help inform and guide public transportation plans within Cascade, the township is hosting an important stakeholder meeting from 8 a.m.-9 a.m. Wednesday, August 9, 2023 at the Wisner Center inside the Cascade library. The purpose of this meeting is to help answer questions and gain feedback from business owners on transportation needs along the 28th Street corridor in Cascade. A light breakfast will be provided, courtesy of Cascade Township. The township is inviting and encouraging all DDA businesses to assist with this significant decision-making process. Business owners are asked to email Cascade Township Interim Manager Ted Andrzejewski at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 616-949-1500.
Rides still available for Cascade seniors
Affordable transportation will continue to be available for seniors through RideLink, Kent County’s dedicated transportation service for seniors. All Cascade residents 60 and older have access to RideLink to destinations anywhere within the borders of Kent County. Rides are available between the hours of 7:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Mondays-Fridays. Rides must be booked at least one day in advance and can be scheduled up to a week in advance. Riders can expect buses to arrive within a 15 minute window of the scheduled time. Rides cost $2 per trip, or $4 round-trip.
Before scheduling a ride, you must register. To register online, visit www.Ridelinkmi.com/home/registration.Those without internet access can request a physical registration form by calling 844-694-6589. Once registered, seniors can schedule a ride by phone by calling the same number listed above. For more information, visit ridelinkmi.com.
GO!Bus disappearing for residents under 60
RideLink is similar to, but different from GO!Bus, which is operated by the Rapid. Because the contract between The Rapid and Cascade is not being renewed, Cascade residents under age 60 lose access to the GO!bus. It’s true that residents may see GO!Bus vehicles traversing the township beyond Aug. 27. These buses will be transporting Cascade residents 60 and older as part of the RideLink program (which serves all of Kent County through a senior millage) as well as individuals from neighboring communities into Cascade because of their standing agreements with The Rapid.
Background: Township survey and negotiations
The DDA for the past few years had paid for a portion of The Rapid’s Route 29, which provided access to businesses and municipal buildings within the DDA boundary, primarily along 28th Street. This cost Cascade Township approximately $218,000 per year. The contract with The Rapid was set to expire on Aug. 27, 2023.
In an effort to be fiscally responsible and ensure Cascade’s residents, workers and businesses were receiving the best service possible, township officials attempted to negotiate a new contract. The DDA presented several options for The Rapid to consider to both improve bus service in the DDA area and save the township funds in the process. The Rapid was only able to propose to save the DDA funds by reducing Route 29 frequency. This service reduction would only save the township about $25,000 per year. The township made attempts to come to other arrangements, but The Rapid did not entertain those suggestions either, and requested the Township renew a contract by June. Because of The Rapid’s inflexibility, the DDA at its June meeting voted to decline The Rapid’s contract and continued to attempt to reach an alternative agreement. Unfortunately, these further negotiations did not bear fruit.
About Cascade Township
Home to more than 19,000 residents, Cascade Township is committed to serving the public by providing the finest community services possible with respect, efficiency and integrity. With the Thornapple River at its heart, Cascade Township is recognized as an excellent place to live, work, play and raise a family. For more information, visit www.cascadetwp.com