Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rapid Silver Line Goes Down

It's fantastic news for taxpayers and for fiscal sanity in the Grand Rapids area. Last night the expensive and redundant Rapid "Silver Line" tax increase request went down in flames. The overall vote total was 52% against and 48% in favor, but when looking at the six cities in the Rapid service district, we see that a majority of the cities rejected the request:

Grand Rapids - 53% yes, 47% no

East Grand Rapids - 64% yes, 36% no

Grandville - 36% yes, 64% no

Kentwood - 46% yes, 54% no

Walker - 32% yes, 68% no

Wyoming - 36% yes, 64% no

As you can see, Walker, Wyoming, Kentwood, and Grandville all soundly rejected the tax increase request and even Grand Rapids was closer than expected.

The pro-Silver Line people are predictably dour. The comments of Peter Varga, executive director of the ITP (Rapid), sum up their attitude perfectly. He said it was rejected simply because voters didn't understand the request. Right. Voters heard from this blog as well as other groups who exposed the bad plan of the Silver Line. The Rapid folks tried their hardest to limit the information available on this request, but active citizens exposed the Rapid and let voters know the facts. This web site alone received thousands of visits from people searching for more information.

The message was clear:

  • This new Silver Line was a duplicate of already-existing bus services

  • The Silver Line would cost tens of millions of dollars (just for buses)

  • The Silver Line would have cut off traffic on Division by shutting down lanes and dramatically increasing congestion

  • The Silver Line was slower than existing bus services (see our previous posts on the issue)

  • The claims of spurred development and "new jobs" were based on speculation and conjecture

In summary, bravo for the voters of the four cities who rejected this request. Make no mistake, they will be back, asking for more. Their next request will be for more than $100 million for an even more inefficient light rail line.


  1. Great work all year on getting out the word. Thanks GR Pundit. Kudos to Eric Larson and Kent County Families for Fiscal Responsibility who worked hard to deliver the message to the surrounding cities and to the Local Rebublican leadeship. A lot of us knocked on doors, me personally on the westside of GR, simply asking for peoples thoughts on the Silver Line. was a great resource to guide folks to. EXCELLENT WORK!

  2. Thanks GR Pundit for your advocacy for the common taxpayer. Like you said, it was a team effort that dashed the hopes of the Friends of Transit and Peter Wege's $80,000 campaign donation.

    We witnessed what an informed grassroots commitment organized through the internet can do. Oh, and a poorly hatched transit plan in an even worse economy surely didn't help them either. We're tired of being viewed as revenue streams to the politicians.

  3. Great job with your Silver Line coverage before the election!

    Thrilled this thing went down. Real step forward for Grand Rapids voters.


  4. Hey thanks for FAILING OUR CITIES. Why do you think every elected person in West Michigan was saying yes to this. Because they know that without this the cities have to start doing cuts. Since Revenue Sharing has not been increased since 2001 and since cuts increased for the cities. The cities have no choice but to start cuts of public safety since there is no other costs left to cut. Thanks for failing our cities and adding any more jobs to the area. I applaud you on your great job.

  5. @Aowwt: What on earth are you talking about? What does revenue sharing have to do with this tax increase? Absolutely nothing. Have you ever picked up an economics textbook? This would not have created jobs. It just would have shifted money around.


  6. The average voter was smarter this time seeing through the Friends of Transit spin and idealist numbers based on some studies that are 4+ years old. GR mayor was quoted this week as saying this will be on the ballot again next year. We need to be ready and get the facts out (again). The good this election brought was attention to how the RAPID is managed and how inefficient it is!