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