West Michigan has a couple new transportation options to help you shop and eat locally without your old gas guzzler. Grand Rapids' The Rapid was finally able to pass a millage rate to launch the Silver Line. Called Bus Rapid Transit or BRT, the Silver Line is designed to act like a commuter rail line that you see on "Seinfeld." Comfy, fast, efficient. The new 40-foot hybrid electric buses have larger doors for faster on-boarding and you pay before you get on. No more diggin' for change in your fanny pack makin' everyone wait, my pets. The seats are also locally sourced from American Seating. The Silver Line has 34 stations -- paid for by the Feds and Lansing -- connecting the southern end of the Grand Rapids Metro area at 60th Street with downtown and Medical Mile. The majority of the route will be on Division Avenue, which now boasts bus lanes and traffic light prioritization to get you to your crack fries at HopCat posthaste. The Silver Line will operate on a 10-minute frequency during peak hours and 20-minute frequency off-peak. Nifty.
Uber offers a little more individualized transportation option. According to Michael White, general manager of Uber Michigan, the hi-tech startup acts as the middleman between people who need transportation and people willing to drive them. The service launched in Detroit in March 2013 and then worked its way across the Mitten State in 2014 to conquer Ann Arbor, Lansing, Flint, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. "We go to markets to help solve transportation issues," Michael said. When asked if this service is only for a bunch of doofus hipsters, he tutted. The service does attract the young and tech savvy, but within a year riders range from elderly needing a ride to the doctor's office to business executives needing to get across town. With Uber, you can stop thinking about how you will get somewhere. Just tap the Uber app on your smartphone and the service will send a car within five minutes.
Take that Uber car to Grand Slam Subs (600 Lake Michigan Dr.) on Grand Rapids' west side. Owner Aaron Baker battled with his west side neighbors to open the delightful deli across from Grand Valley's Grand Rapids Campus and the Hunting YMCA. Baker, who is effusive and a passionate entrepreneur, will be happy to load up a fresh-baked roll with local ingredients. Free Market recently slammed one of the baseball-themed subs called the Screwball. Think ham, salami, and capicola ham topped off by fresh greens and spicy banana peppers. Grand Slam Subs hits it out of the park. When local foodies were asked about their Grand Slam Subs experience, Ms. K. responded "Talking to the owner was unforgettable." Ms. S. said "I can't believe what I ate."
Get them peepers checked at Davich Vision Center (2825 28th St. SE) by Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids. Davich is a Korea-based eyewear company with more than 200 locations worldwide and chose Grand Rapids as their first U.S. location. (Hello, Whole Foods?) Davich's priority is vision health. Top-notch services include vision therapy, comprehensive eye exams, contact lens exams for spherical and multi-focal lenses, contact lens education and prescription verification. All done by experienced eyecare professionals. Dump the coke-bottle glasses for name-brand frames from Coach and Prada to Ray Ban and Oakley. All at affordable prices. Most glasses will be ready within 30 minutes, and guests can enjoy free specialty coffee at the in-store café while they are waiting. Better to see the bedeviling Miss Carolita.
Shout out to Belman's Bakery (1028 Chicago Dr. SW) in Wyoming, which baked Free Market his first tres leches wedding cake. It was worth the calories.
Eastown is up in arms over SpartanNash planning to build a gas station across from their Family Fare Market in the empty lot where a derelict warehouse "accidentally" caught on fire in the Fulton Heights neighborhood. Gas up!
If you accidentally find yourself in Fremont, have lunch at the adorable Susie Q's Sandwich Shoppe (33 East Main). Free Market wandered in and soon tzatziki sauce was dripping down his wrists as he wolfed down sliced gyro wrapped in a fluffy pita.