The Rapid, metro Grand Rapids’ public transportation service, says it will postpone indefinitely 270 layoffs anticipated because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Officials with The Rapid announced Saturday that the agency has been “working with union representatives on workforce and service planning.”
“Union transportation and maintenance staff layoffs are postponed indefinitely, and normal wages and health benefits will continue under the previously announced reduced service schedule,” The Rapid said in a statement. “Remote work practices continue for Rapid non-union administrative employees as we continue to support critical transportation operations. No layoffs of any Rapid employees are taking place at this time.”
The Rapid said it will make changes starting Monday to minimize crowding and maximize social distancing on bus routes and “meet ridership demands.” The move follows reduced service on more than a dozen routes after news reports last week showed crowding on The Rapid’s Silver Line route based on photos from a bus driver. The driver, Karen Stilson, told FOX17 that dispatch officials had dismissed her concerns about crowding on the bus.
The agency also announced Saturday that it will increase service to every 30 minutes along high-demand main thoroughfares across the city starting on Monday. These routes are on Division Avenue, Kalamazoo Avenue, Eastern Avenue, Alpine Avenue and 28th Street. The Rapid’s DASH service, a free downtown shuttle, is suspended until further notice.
“These changes are a result of close monitoring and data analysis of new ridership patterns since the reduced service schedule” started on March 24, the agency said. “Following reports and observations of crowding on certain routes at specific times, these changes are being made in an attempt to prioritize the health and safety of The Rapid’s bus operators and riders. These service changes are being put in place to enhance safety, but it is absolutely critical that customers utilize The Rapid for essential travel only and follow social distancing practices.”