I’ve lived in Grand Rapids for 3 years now and come downtown periodically, usually by car, and park near my destination. When I started interning with Hello West Michigan and coming downtown several times a week, I learned about the Downtown Area Shuttle, or DASH bus. The DASH is a free bus that circulates through downtown Grand Rapids and just recently had a route overhaul and schedule extension. They have three different bus routes that connect to several perimeter parking lots where you can park in for only a few dollars. Now when I come to work downtown, I park in Area 7 off of Mount Vernon and Pearl for only $2 for as long as I want!

At first, I was only using the DASH to get to and from our office, but now use it almost every time I go downtown. I love telling my friends (all broke college students) about the DASH whenever we make plans to go downtown.

Besides the convenience, the DASH is also a great way to meet new people or throw in your earbuds and have a few minutes to rest. From the bus drivers to the riders, I have gotten to know regulars, like myself, who travel at the same times. I love starting conversations with people and continuing conversations the next time we’re both riding.

One of my favorite rides (so far) was when I had stopped by Rosa Parks Circle for some food and had Mary’s Tamales. I had brought my food on the DASH to go eat at home and the driver, Javier, was giving me a hard time about not getting some for him too! We were laughing about how next time I’ll make sure to bring him some. He proceeded to open up and tell me about how his grandma would also make tamales when he and his siblings went to visit and the great memories they bring.

The DASH brings people together in unexpected ways beyond making a commute more convenient. It is a unique offering that not enough people take advantage of to see our great city of Grand Rapids. The convenience and cost alone are worth it, and the people you may meet along the way make it that much more worthwhile.