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Grand Rapids — Grand Rapids is launching a $40 million rapid transit bus system that connects the city center with southern suburbs.

The Grand Rapids Press reports the 9.6-mile Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit system will kick off this week with free rides to attract commuters. About $32 million came from the federal government, while the state paid almost $8 million.

Transportation planners say the system cuts a typical 45-minute drive to a 27-minute commute. They say it’s the city’s first mode of transportation to compete with cars.

Jeff Steinport from the Kent County Taxpayer’s Alliance says the line is a boondoggle that duplicates existing public transportation routes.

The National Transit Database says city’s traditional bus system had 11.9 million passenger trips in 2012. That’s up from 10.8 million in 2011 and 9.7 million in 2010.

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