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The Rapid Joins in Opening of Ehlers Amtrak Station

The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI, joined with representatives of Michigan DOT, Amtrak, city officials, and others in late October to celebrate the grand opening of the Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak Station, named in honor of the former congressman (R-MI) who served the district from 1993-2011.

During his tenure, Ehlers secured a number of special appropriations for The Rapid at critical points in its growth.

“We are excited to make this connection between buses and rail happen,” Peter Varga, chief executive officer of The Rapid and past APTA chair, said at the event. “The Rapid is all about improving connections and access for the people in our community and those that choose to visit us. It’s been a great partnership between federal, state, and local entities to make this a reality.” The new Amtrak facility is located adjacent to Rapid Central Station, The Rapid’s primary hub, allowing easy connections to local bus and Silver Line BRT.

Other speakers included Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Michigan Transportation Commissioner Lynn Afendoulis, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, and Marla Ehlers, who offered thanks on behalf of her father and the Ehlers family.

The $6.1 million Amtrak station provides connections with intercity bus and taxis while offering improved passenger amenities such as a larger waiting room, an ADA-compliant boarding platform with a covered canopy, 118 parking spaces, and restrooms. A clock tower with colorful lights harkens back to the glory days of rail travel.

Funding for the station, platform, and rail relocation came from FTA, FRA, Michigan DOT, the city of Grand Rapids, and the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority.

Cutting the ribbon at the Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak Station in Grand Rapids, from left: Mayor George Heartwell; Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI); Sen. Carl Levin; Marla Ehlers, on behalf of former Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers; Rapid CEO Peter Varga; Ray Lang, Amtrak; Lynn Afendoulis, Michigan transportation commissioner; John Logie, former Grand Rapids mayor; and Tim Hoeffner, Michigan DOT.

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