The Rapid short operations money, selling naming rights to Silver Line

Silver Line needs money, selling name rights

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH., - The Silver Line in Grand Rapids needs more money to support operations costs, so The Rapid is selling the naming rights.

"There was an initial cost estimate, and there were some things that were not accounted for primarily within the maintenance sector," said Michael Bulthuis, marketing and communications coordinator for The Rapid. "Some of it we just didn't know what things would cost like landscaping, utilities [and] the cost of snow melt. Some of those costs have been a little higher than we anticipated."

The Silver Line launched in 2014 with a $40 million price tag. Part of the funding for the project comes from a millage for the six cities The Rapid serves: Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker and Wyoming.

"It's the first [Bus Rapid Transit system] in Michigan, so we can be proud of that, that we have this asset here," Bulthuis said.

But the Silver Line only runs through Grand Rapids, Wyoming and Kentwood, which bothers some residents.

"The Silver Line is essentially an expensive boondoggle that does not accurately serve the needs of the broader community at-large," said Tyler Groenendal of the Kent County Taxpayer Alliance.

The Rapid has a history of fiscal mismanagement and selling the naming rights is indicative of that, Groenendal said.

"The fact that they need to do that to recover a shortfall that they should've accounted for in their original budget, I think, is a larger problem," he said.

Despite the complaints, Bulthuis said the Silver Line is a positive addition to The Rapid's system.

"I think it's important to realize that something that's going to benefit the system is going to benefit everybody, even if you don't directly use it," he said.

The Rapids has not received any offers yet for naming rights to the Silver Line.

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