In another rather humorous demonstration of The Rapid’s track record of not being very good at managing their money, in June of last year the board was informed that when the Silver Line‘s budget was being formulated, they forgot to include the cost of maintaining things. The cost of routine maintenance has grown to around $137,000 a year, which, along with an ongoing drop in bus ridership, is sapping The Rapid’s budget. Below is a screenshot of the Rapid’s board packet from June of 2017:
Even more humorous, the local media didn’t report on the real reason for the attempted sale of naming rights. For instance, The Rapidian chalked it up to being a “fiscally responsible opportunity.” The Grand Rapids Press, without explaining why, just says that The Rapid is “looking for ways to cover some of the operational costs.” And of course The Rapid’s own blog completely glosses over the issue, saying that they want to sell naming rights just to “offset” some costs.
But the bottom line is simple. They screwed up. They didn’t budget for something that is so simple — maintenance. As The Rapid’s ridership continues to see steep declines, poor financial decisions like this will begin to bite even harder into The Rapid’s budget.
As an aside, it appears as though there are (so far) no takers willing to spend $200,000 a year to put their name on a boondoggle bus.