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Bus Stop Stories showcase local resident experiences on public transportation

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Disability Advocates of Kent County, Tommy Allen Creative and Friends of Transit Announces the launch “Bus Stop Stories,” a new video series showcasing The Rapid’s new BRT Silver Line.

/Friends of Transit

Disability Advocates of Kent County (DAKC), Tommy Allen Creative and Friends of Transit, the local transit advocacy team, are excited to share new videos of lively, poignant, and comic reflections on The Rapid’s new BRT Silver Line debut in Grand Rapids, Wyoming and Kentwood, Michigan. 

Taking to the streets during the launch week of The Rapids' new bus rapid transit (BRT) line – a new class of modern buses devoted to moving people quickly throughout the city – Allen and his crew set out to capture the thoughts of individuals who were either riding the new Silver Line (BRT) or were on existing routes under study for future BRT service.

"Right from the start we acknowledged with DAKC that Bus Stop Stories’ first chapter had to be during the launch of the city's first rapid transit service – The Silver Line," says Allen of their August 25, 2014 production start date, "Having been a participating artist in the 2009 debut of ArtPrize, I knew that we would only have one shot at capturing a city suddenly experiencing something brand new and at the very same time in history. When the second or third BRT line arrives, it could be greeted with a shrug so we had one moment to capture this energy."

After meeting with DAKC, The Rapid, and the Friends of Transit, Bus Stop Stories was able to carve out a set of guiding principals that would aid the production of this from-the-street storytelling project.  Because of Allen's knack for using humor, as evident often in his work at Rapid Growth Media and also in his volunteer work for events like LaughFest and Creston Neighborhood Association's Art Battle for Community held over the last 8 years, he is able to leverage his comic feather touch inviting audiences to engage in deeper and sometimes polarizing topics.  

"The addition of the brightly colored flower was actually a last minute edition to my wardrobe choice for the video," says Allen who can be seen wearing a brightly colored pink flower on his powder blue sport coat from Goodwill of West Michigan, "At first I was nervous that the flower might be too much but in the end it actually helped people relax as the brightness of the color seemed to lift the person's spirits as I approached with my microphone in hand inducing an almost instant smile in most, curiosity in others."

The first chapter of Bus Stop Stories will start with a light-hearted (and very real) look at three areas in which we commonly interact with public transportation: Live, Work, and Play.

Each of these themes will be explored in the video series and released, one a day, starting on Tuesday, September 16 with "LIVE." on the Friends of Transit Facebook page. (Easy Link: )

"In the end, the video series timing is perfect since many folks will be considering their transportation options as ArtPrize opens in Grand Rapids on September 24," says Allen a resident of Grand Rapids, "We wanted to present a fresh image to counter balance the often stereotypical view of public transportation. Our goal still remains to invite people to listen to our community member's thoughts and decide for themselves if The Rapid is a smart choice for their transportation. These are their stories."

Disability Advocates of Kent County (DAKC), Tommy Allen Creative and Friends of Transit will launch this series of three dynamic, short 3-4 minute videos showcasing the excitement of The Rapid’s new BRT Silver Line in West Michigan against the backdrop of everyday riders taking advantage of the benefits of public transportation. 

Bus Stop Stories: Chapter One was recorded on the streets of Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Kentwood, and Walker and in familiar locations with a diverse set of citizens from all over West Michigan. Each of these videos will center on our current bus services, how people use (or not use) public transportation, and the potential for expansion in the years ahead.

The videos will be launched on September 16 and run through September 18, on YouTube, through the DAKC website and Facebook page and through the FIT Facebook page.

Bus Stop Stories is produced by Tommy Allen, an award-winning columnist in our region, and will employ lively comic interview-style banter as he captures people’s opinions about the Silver Line, public transportation, and its intersection with Live, Work & Play.

Bus Stop Stories is made possible by a grant from the Charles S. Mott Foundation of Flint, Michigan.




Disability Advocates of Kent County is a non-profit disability rights organization whose mission is “To advocate, assist, educate and inform on independent living options for persons with disabilities and to create a barrier-free society for all.”



Utilizing a diverse set of creative tools, experiences, and professional relationships, Tommy Allen Creative develops and implements customer-focused strategies to support organizations communicate across a multitude of social platforms to bridge and grow public engagement.

Tommy Allen is the Lifestyle Editor of Rapid Growth Media (Grand Rapids, MI), a Photo-Based Visual Artist (Allen + Pfleghaar Studio at Tanglefoot (aka Tanglefoot Studio) and Owner of Tommy Allen Creative – an experiential company. Allen migrated to Grand Rapids to attend college after a childhood spent in Flint.

Allen's wildly popular ArtPrize entry The Kissing Booth – a social practice time-based work of art - was reported in area and national publications. It was voted as one of the Top 25 Most Controversial ArtPrize entries – something Allen just shrugs off no stranger to controversy. "It is just people kissing in public," says Allen.

In 2006 Allen joined Detroit's Issue Media Group's Rapid Growth Media – a family of 21 weekly online magazines in the U.S. and Canada devoted to regional stories about economic growth, investment opportunities, and the people leading communities into the new economy.  In 2008, Allen created G-Sync Editorial in response to the national economic crisis and the potential negative impact such a collapse could have on the local arts scene.

Tommy Allen is the 2014 Media Person of the Year PRoof Award by the West Michigan chapter of the PRSA on April 24, 2014.

Recently, his work as interviewer can be seen in the new video series from GR Current's Emerge West Michigan program – a one stop shop for the startup community in and outside of West Michigan



Friends of Transit is a group of dedicated Individuals committed to positive dialogue, smart growth, and the vibrancy of public transit.

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