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While I don't always agree with Jarrett over at the Human Transit Blog one of the things he will often bring up that I 100% agree with is the importance of branding. It seems that many transit systems especially here in the United States does a poor job of branding its transit service. Here in Utah, UTA does have TRAX and MAX but overall has not done a good job of branding its service.
Even UTA's much talked about BRT project is not branded very well. Sure it has special bus stop shelters and buses but there is little to set it apart from regular bus service. Even the controversial Van Hool buses have the basic paint scheme with just some wrapping added to make it stand out. Not only do the buses not stand out but UTA is not keeping them to the MAX line exclusively. One of the ten Van Hools has been assigned to the 220 on a regular basis.
Now if it was a break down replacement I could somewhat see (but then again how many other non-Van Hool buses UTA has?) but this bus has been assigned for some time. I have seen it on the route for more than 3 weeks so clearly they are not keeping them exclusively to the MAX line.
For most transit agencies you cannot tell one bus route from another beyond the route number. After Metro in Los Angeles started up Metro Rapid they started painting Rapid buses in Red, Local buses in Orange and the few express routes they have left in Blue. This allows the Rapid buses to have their own identity and clearly set them apart from every other bus in the system. Metro does seem to do a pretty good job of keeping the buses to where they belong but when shortages do occur you may see a Rapid bus on a local line and local bus on Rapid.
So how could UTA do a better job of branding its service?
Since the investment has been made in BRT, the buses assigned to those routes need to have their own identity. The buses should have their own paint scheme and except in emergencies stay on their own route.
UTA also has a large number of MCI commuter cruisers now in the fleet. While Front Runner will reduce the need for these buses in some places, there is also opportunities to expand these service to new areas (such as the Park City proposal). Once again the commuter cruisers could be painted in its own scheme and create its own brand such as "Regional Connector" or something like that.
While UTA has done a somewhat adequate job when it comes to its 15-minute service with its system maps and bus stop signs, more can be done. To make those routes stand out even more from a marketing perspective you have a special paint scheme and special bus stop signs.
There is many opportunities for transit services across the country to better brand themselves and create brands within their identity.