Friends of Transit: Getting There Together Weekly

April 20, 2009

The As If You Needed Another Reason Edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — friendsoftransit @ 1:27 pm

Folks,

You’ve got to love Lou Glazer.

The news he brings can seem pretty bleak, but you can’t blame the messenger, can you? Is it his fault that too many of Michigan’s citizens just want to live in the 20th century in spite of the fact that the 21st century is almost ten years old?

While the facts and figures may not be the best, Lou and his crew at Michigan Future, Inc. has a set of recommendations to move Michigan back in the direction of prosperity. This week, they released their latest report, “Michigan’s Transition to a Knowledge-Based Economy: Second Annual Progress Report”. When asked on Wednesday what the two most important things he would do, he stated: (1) increase funding for higher education and (2) invest in transit.

Yup, invest in transit. (See why I like him?)

So, how can you not vote YES on the Silver Line Millage on May 5th? If you needed another reason to vote YES for the Silver Line, check out Lou’s report! If you need a refresher on the Silver Line Millage, head to the Friends of Transit website.

This week, we’ve uploaded all of the campaign literature for your use. Check it out to see how the Silver Line is one route to a more prosperous Michigan.

When many folks read Lou’s report, they see the doom and gloom. The headline in Tuesday’s Grand Rapids Press wasn’t pretty.

How can we not be sobered up by the front page banner: “Michigan income ranking falls 11 percent below national average; weakest since 1929”? Though at the end of the article about Lou’s report, we get to the silver lining or at least our opportunity for a silver lining: “”Quite simply, in a flattening world where work can increasingly be done anyplace by anybody, the places with the greatest concentrations of talent win,” according to the Michigan Future study.”

That’s where the the Silver Line comes in–it’s all about supporting great places all along its route.

The Center for Michigan’s take on the report puts a better focus on our opportunity for a silver lining:
“And Lou repeated his planks of what’s needed to return Michigan to prosperity, including expanded investments of quality of place, increasing public investments in higher education, and “transforming teaching and learning so that it is aligned with the realities of a flattening world — all of education needs reinvention.””

Investments of quality of place. That’s got the Silver Line written all over it!

Want to spread the news about our great opportunity to build our community’s and west Michigan’s prosperity, why not write a letter to the Editor of the Grand Rapids Press? Just send an e-mail of 200 words or less to pulse@grpress.com and you too can give our community another reason to vote YES on May 5th.

All for today.

Dave

April 10, 2009

The Virtual Virus Edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — friendsoftransit @ 2:55 pm

Folks,

We are now under four weeks to the Silver Line Millage election on May 5th and it’s time to catch a cold.

I’ve heard tell that we’re all connected to each other by six degrees of separation or less. Some have said that we’re even closer via the Internet. With Facebook and Twitter and all the other such new-fangled things, we’ve got to be only two or three mouse clicks away from each other.

So what are you waiting for? How about helping to start a virtual virus?

I can see it now. Every Inbox in Kent County catching the Silver Line fever within a day or two?

It’s easy. No coughing or sneezing required. Just point and click and you’re passing on the germ that will lead to the next generation of public transportation service in our community brought to us by The Rapid/ITP–the Silver Line.

So, pass it on!

And if you really want to hang out with other infected folks, try on some Friends of Transit volunteer work. The next three Saturdays (starting on April 18th) will be filled with “lit drops” throughout our area. In between times, many of us will be making a few phone calls to likely voters.

Finally, if you really want to infect the community, why not write a letter to the Editor of the Grand Rapids Press? It’s easy–just send an e-mail of 200 words or less to pulse@grpress.com and the virus will spread far and wide.

Can’t beat the old fashioned viral infection going on.

So, pass on the Silver Line virus to your family, friends and neighbors! May 5th is fast approaching and we need our entire community to have the Silver Line fever by then!

All for today.

Dave

March 27, 2009

The Moving Pictures Edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — friendsoftransit @ 2:44 pm

Folks,

Moving pictures transformed the entertainment landscape of the 20th century. Now they are working their magic on the 21st. Not so much from the perspective of the big Hollywood blockbuster–that’s so 1950’s with just better special effects.

I’m talking the digital frontier where story tellers are plying their trade not on the silver screen but on your 17″ monitor.

And the story tellers are busy on behalf of the Silver Line and public transportation. The first set of moving pictures gets us ready for the feature–an animated piece which is about our very own Silver Line! Check out the new graphic representation of the the Silver Line in action.

The next moving picture comes from the roving vlogger Andy Dragt. He was sent on a special assignment from Friends of Transit to check out the HealthLine in Cleveland, Ohio. As he notes, Cleveland’s system is the closest bus rapid transit (BRT) system to us. His pictures show in more detail some of the features of a BRT system, such as paying your fare at the station–not on the vehicle, a raised platform and a station–not a “bus stop.” Check out Andy on the BRT!

For the true movie die hards who want to watch a few more moving pictures on BRT, head to California or overseas. See why BRT is an “affordable, adaptable and cost-effective alternative.”

So, if you like what you’re seeing, endorse the Silver Line Millage today!

Then plan on some popcorn and other refreshments as you volunteer to help on the campaign.

All for today.

Dave

March 23, 2009

The Nigerian Offer Edition

 
Folks,
 
Have you ever thought about sending in the cash just on the chance that he’s telling the truth?  You know the guy I am talking about; the one sending millions of e-mails around the world offering you a handsome reward if you can only help him move $25 million of his family’s fortune out of Nigeria.  Your task–to send him $25,000, some paperwork or something like that and then, voila, his family’s stash is available and your very generous reward is in the mail to you!
 
Sound too good to be true?
What if I told you that there was $40 million locked up in a vault with your and my name on it?

Wait–it gets better–you only need to send in $12 (give or take a few bucks) to unlock the vault.

Wait one more minute–no need to get the check book out just yet–you don’t have to send in the money until 2012! You only need to commit to send the money in 2012 and then, voila, $40 million is on the way to you and me!

Our generous reward? A piece of 21st century infrastructure to support the development up on Michigan Street Hill and to drive the redevelopment along a forgotten corridor to the south.

This is no Nigerian offer. This is the Silver Line!

So, ready to help unlock the $40 million treasure? Just one piece of paper is needed and a little of your time.

As for the paper, endorse the Silver Line Millage today!

As for a bit of your time, come celebrate the official beginning of the Silver Line Campaign at the Kick Off Celebration at Tommy Brann’s on March 24th at 5:00pm!

If you’re really looking to make sure we get our reward, volunteer to help on the campaign!

All we need is a yes vote on May 5th which is our pledge to raise our local taxes in 2012 and then the $40 million to build the Silver Line is on its way to our community. No kidding.

All for today.

February 27, 2009

The Warning of Redundancy Edition

Folks,

We are about 60 days from the Silver Line millage election which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 5. And I’m starting to get a little nervous. So, I must warn you now that I may be repeating myself often over the next nine weeks.

Yikes! Only nine weeks to election day! So much to do and so little time. On paper, the task is easy – get a majority of voters to say, “Yes” to the Silver Line Millage. But that’s on paper and I’m getting nervous.

Unfortunately, we’re all a bit nervous these days.  Times are tough.  There is no doubt about that.  The daily doses of economic statistics often make me wonder when the end will be in sight.  Some economists say the 3rd quarter of this year; others point with more hope to 2010.  But these are national economists.  The Michigan folks are looking for a little relief after the national rebound.  So, no matter which prognosticator you prefer, the economy will not be our friend on May 5.
 
How can any one seek a tax increase in this climate?
 
Of course, you know the answer to that question–we are seeking a tax increase this year because we have an awesome opportunity to capture $40 million in federal and state dollars in order to build the first rapid transit line in Michigan.
 
But while the economy may not be our friend this time around, that does not mean the economic arguments have failed us as well.  Rather, most sets of facts and figures I look at are clearly in our corner.

Some might even label this election, “New Opportunities for Community Growth.”
 
Jobs.  The Silver Line will create 405 new and permanent jobs (direct and indirect) with an average annual wage of $37,000.
 
Economic Impact.  The economic return on investment is projected to be 400%; similar systems have seen returns as high as 1000%.
 
Connectivity.  Located along South Division and wrapping around St. Mary’s, GRCC and the Medical Mile back through downtown by the convention center and arena, the Silver Line will link residents with medical facilities, college campuses and neighborhood commerce centers.  
 
Development.  Areas along the route have already seen private and public interest toward growth in housing, commercial development and parks.
 
Convenience.  The estimated time travel from 60th Street to the Medical Mile is 27 minutes-factor in the circuitous travel around a parking ramp, then the walk to the front door and the Silver Line will clearly be competitive with driving yourself.
 
Fund Availability.  The Silver Line is the first project of its kind in Michigan.  As noted above, there is money in Washington and Lansing with our names on it.  A “Yes” vote on May 5th secures this funding and opens the door to future transit opportunities.

So, there’s good news to be spread about the Silver Line in spite of these tough times! (More details at: http://www.ridetherapid.org/about/great-transit.) And when the going gets tough, the tough have a meeting. That is, the clear thinking tough people get together and chart a course (http://rapidyes.org/informational-meeting.htm). That’s what we’re planning on doing on Tuesday, March 10 at noon. Come join the other Friends of Transit at LaGrave Church (107 LaGrave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503) to (1) learn more about the Silver Line, (2) learn that it’s legal for all types of organizations and churches to be involved in this type of campaign and (3) learn what Friends of Transit has in store by way of activities and how you can help to get a majority YES vote on May 5. We promise we’ll have you out in an hour or less!

In addition to attending this informational meeting, mark your calendar for Tuesday, March 24 at 5:00pm at Tommy Brann’s Restaurant. Come on out along the Silver Line route in Wyoming for the kick off celebration for the Silver Line millage. (I’ll be repeating more details as the date draws nearer.)

Finally, as far as the redundant campaign items go, don’t forget to complete an endorsement form  and then forward this message to every one in your address book.

As for a couple new items, first, did you notice that this piece now gets uploaded to a blog? Check out: https://friendsoftransit.wordpress.com/. You too now have a forum for comments, critiques and random thoughts that pop into your consciousness about transit after reading through these weekly e-newsletters or any other time.

Second, if the thought of blogging has you looking for a more concrete way to let your opinion be known, head to the survey being conducted by the West Michigan Transit Linkages Study. The news of this study is redundant, but the survey is new. Head to www.westmichigantransitsurvey.info and let your opinions on West Michigan connectivity be known! And it might even be profitable–The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council has graciously offered several $25 gift certificates as an incentive for respondents to make it all the way to the end of this brief survey.

All for today.

Dave
www.RapidYES.org

P.S. Thanks to all from Friends of Transit for their help in the drafting of the “New Opportunities for Community Growth” section above.

February 20, 2009

The Ego Edition

Folks,

Repeat after me: “I, (state your name), am the most critical person working on the Silver Line Millage.”

One more time in case you were slightly distracted by the responsibility that comes with such a phrase:

“I, (state your name), am the most critical person working on the Silver Line Millage.”

The truth of this statement cannot be underestimated. Every “me” who is reading this must grasp a hold of this reality and act with the urgency and import that the current situation warrants. I know you are well aware of the economic situation of our community, state, nation and world. This dismal backdrop will make our work over the next two months even harder as we work to convince voters to say, “Yes,” to the next generation of public transportation service on our streets. And we only have two months(!) to convince our friends and neighbors that a “Yes” vote is really in our economic self interest.

But, today, it’s not about “our friends and family,” it’s about “me.”

So the first thing you, err, the “me” reading this needs to do is ENDORSE the Silver Line Millage.  Just head to the rapidyes.org and download the support form, sign it and send it in: http://www.rapidyes.org/FOT-2009-support-form.pdf.  Think how cool it will be to have your name on the campaign website and on our materials which will be mailed out.  Check out what fine company you will be joining (list of endorsers).  I think your ego will respond positively to seeing your name in print!

Next, all of us “me’s” need to LEARN more about the Silver Line and we have a great opportunity for you.  Mark your calendar for Tuesday, March 10, 12:00 to 12:50pm at LaGrave Christian Reformed Church (107 LaGrave SE).  We held a similar session two years ago and folks found the time well spent.  Our agenda will give “me” the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the Silver Line – what’s “bus rapid transit” and how will it impact our community.
  • Learn how it’s legal for your non-profit organization or corporation to be actively involved in the campaign.
  • Learn how to be involved in the campaign.

Finally, VOLUNTEER!  As you fill out your endorsement form, make sure you are checking the various boxes on that form to offer your time and energy on behalf of the campaign.  Do not think your contribution would be too small and dismiss it.  Remember, “I (state your name), am the most critical person working on the Silver Line Millage.”

To continue the subliminal Animal House theme, “Let’s do it!”
All for today.
 
Dave
RapidYes.org
P.S.  Don’t forget to check out the Silver Line and Friends of Transit Facebook fan sites!

February 7, 2009

The Ice Fishing Edition

Folks,

Sorry for the delay in getting this edition to you on a Saturday. I’ve been off Thursday and Friday hanging out with about 60 third-graders and a handful of parents and teachers. We were on the annual camp overnight for this C.A. Frost class and, boy, did we have fun. You’ve got to love walking through the woods, sitting around a campfire and sliding down a snowy hill in a homemade cardboard, plastic and duct tape sled! And, yes, ice fishing! I will spare you my true feelings with you about ice fishing. Suffice it to say that sitting on a block of ice staring into a six inch hole hoping that a near frozen fish grabs a hold of your insect larva on a hook may not be in my top ten things to do on a February morning. But this day is not about me. It’s about the kids and their outdoor education.

Which brings me back to transit. You see, as we debriefed the ice fishing foray onto Little Bostwick Lake, Mr. Peterson, the awesome Environmental Lab teacher, spoke with excitement about the upcoming fifth grade excursion to Reeds Lake to try their luck at some ice fishing. My contribution to this conversation was that a couple ice fishing poles and a five-gallon pail was all a kid needed to get out to a day of ice fishing fun at Reeds Lake. They don’t even need their parents to drive. All they need is the know-how to grab a Route 6 bus. “That’s right,” another parent quickly chimed in, “They need to learn how to ride the city bus.” “Yes, the bus can get them there,” another added.

Can you see it now? Packs of third-graders roaming through Rapid Central Station carrying ice fishing gear in five gallon pails! Hours and hours of outdoor fun await out on Reeds Lake and it’s only the price of a bus ticket away! And, as the kids get older, they can move up to bigger fish and head to the Fourth Street Dam and try their luck while pursuing steelhead when they’re running. Route 7 or 11 will get you pretty close depending on what side of the river you want to wander into (http://www.ridetherapid.org/ride/routes). (Before you know it, there will be a kayak run on the Grand River downtown and then The Rapid will have to put kayak racks on the back of the buses!)

As for more direct transit news, nothing too exciting to report from Washington or Lansing. The governor did mention transit in her State of the State Address on Tuesday evening (full text at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/gov/SOS2009_265915_7.pdf), but this was only a teaser for things to come: “Soon, I also will recommend long-term reforms to achieve affordable but stable funding for maintenance and repairs to our roads, bridges and transit systems.” In the U.S. Senate, the fight continues on the Stimulus Plan. We’ll see what the weekend brings. (Maybe the congressional leaders need to head out to an ice shanty and work this out.)

On the local scene, plans for the upcoming Friends of Transit campaign are starting to get into focus. I hope you’ve been doing your work to get ready for May 5. Remember:

(1) Mark your calendar for 8:00pm, May 5, “party to celebrate our hard work;”

(2) Read up on Bus Rapid Transit and what we’re planning to do in The Rapid service area (http://www.ridetherapid.org/about/great-transit) or see what’s been launched in Cleveland (http://www.rtahealthline.com/); and

(3) Book mark http://www.rapidyes.org/. This still is the “thank you” page from the last campaign, but you won’t want to be unprepared when the new, “Vote Yes for the Silver Line” page goes live!

So, grab your five gallon pail and enjoy the ice fishing while we have it. Soon enough spring will be here and we’ll all be too busy campaigning to enjoy any leisurely day of fishing until May 6. That’s good since trout season kicks off the last Saturday of April and then bass season at the end of May.

All for today.

Dave
RapidYes.org

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