To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pasadena proposes new name and look for ARTS bus system


By Lauren Gold, November 15, 2013
 City of Pasadena is looking into a re-branding and renaming the ARTS bus system in Pasadena Friday, November 15, 2013.

PASADENA >> The city’s bus transit system will get a makeover next year in an effort to increase ridership and earn federal funding.

One of the key elements of the transformation is a proposed name change to the system, now known as Pasadena Area Rapid Transit (ARTS).

After months of work by a group of students at the Art Center College of Design, the Department of Transportation proposed a new name, Pasadena Transit, and look for the buses to the city council this month.

“Transit branding is something we don’t think about a whole lot, but it is one of those really key considerations for a transit system, and the ARTS service has reached a point in terms of its evolution that it really needs to be looked at again,” Director of Transportation Fred Dock said.

Dock said he hopes the new brand will increase ridership on the system, attracting those who aren’t already using it. The ARTS bus name, developed in 1994, is confusing to many visitors or others in the city who often assume it is something related to the actual arts rather than local transit, he said.
The buses currently see about 1.5 million trips each year on six routes throughout the city, a number Dock said the 2004 general plan had hoped would double. It has been difficult to increase service, he said, since the city funds the ARTS buses completely by itself.

Thus, one of the other goals of the transit system revamp, Dock said, is to help qualify the system for funding from the Federal Transit Administration.

And the new name is only one of many different steps the city has recently taken toward this goal. All of the buses were recently replaced with Compressed Natural Gas vehicles and the department is also ready to roll out a new bus tracking system that will allow riders to use their smart phones to know exactly when the bus will arrive at their stop.

“We’ve been working for the last year and half on this, basically looking at the overall identity of the transit system, trying to understand the relationship of the city’s transit system and what role it is providing,” Dock said.

Some council members, however, were critical of the new name and design, which is a “connecting the dots” concept designed by student Julie Yeow.

“You’ve got a brand that everybody knows and now we come up with this really prosaic ‘Pasadena Transit.’ It doesn’t roll off the tongue, it’s not really symbolic of anything,” Councilman Steve Madison said.

Others countered that the bus system doesn’t need to be artsy, it just needs to get the point across.
“It’s a bus, OK,” Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said. “We are trying to tell people it’s going to get you where you want to go.”

The council ultimately asked staff to come back at a January meeting with an action item for council approval.

 “I personally think a new name for the bus system elevates the concept of Pasadena. Pasadena is a very sophisticated city in my opinion and I think the ARTS bus was not at that same level of branding as something like Pasadena Transit,” Kondrup said. “I think it’s a nice step into understanding that the system has grown and it serves multiple areas, and it’s a professional system.”

Gloria Kondrup, who taught the Art Center class, said she thinks once the council has more information about the process that lead to the ultimate choice of Pasadena Transit, they will approve it.

The 12 students in the class worked for 14 months coming up with their designs, and the final choice went through multiple layers of study by the students and the city. Ultimately, she said, the finished product will have a significant positive impact on the brand of the city bus system.