By Charlotte Prong Parkhill
Kitchener Post staff
When riders jump on light rail or bus rapid transit in 2017, will they be riding the Arc, Ion or Trio?
Those are the three names shortlisted for Waterloo Region’s new rapid transit system by Quarry Integrated Communications, a St. Jacobs-based marketing firm.
For inspiration, Quarry looked at more than 4,000 comments collected from citizens on the topic of rapid transit, gathered by the region during public consultation over the past three years.
Vice president Sarah Harwood said the three names were chosen to reflect the themes of a smart, healthy and prosperous region and transit system.
Ultimately, the brand name that is chosen needs to reflect both bus and rail rapid transit, be memorable and distinctive, and be easy to read as a vehicle passes.
The final choices were compared to other transit brand names from around the world.
“I think we’ve stretched this category a little bit, with a little more meaning and a little more depth,” Harwood said.
“We’ve presented three names that are very different from each other, and that stretch those transit conventions.”
Members of the public will get a chance to voice their opinions at three public consultation sessions being held this week and next, and the recommendation for the final name choice is expected to go to council at the end of February. A final logo design including font and colours will be completed after the name is finalized. A fixed budget of $75,000 was set aside for branding.
Thomas Schmidt, commissioner of transportation and environmental services for the region, said the three chosen names were whittled down from a list of about 30 but aren’t “written in stone.”
“If, in this process, someone comes up with a great idea that’s better than anything we’ve seen . . . then we’ll look at it,” he said.
Chris Klein, member of the transit advocacy group TriTAG, said he hopes the unique branding doesn’t separate rapid transit too much from the existing transit network.
“We have Grand River Transit and we have this new line that is going to be privately operated. But from the perspective of the people who are going to use it, the important thing is not just the new LRT, but the entire system as a whole,” he said.
“To be honest, without the supporting system, the LRT is going to be of less value. If we brand it so that it is so distinct and separate from everything else GRT – local buses and iXpress and then this new name – we could give the impression that what we have is two separate systems.”
Though TriTAG is not advocating for any particular name, Klein said his personal preference would be for a line name — such as the new LRT Confederation Line within the Ottawa transit system — rather than a separate, distinct entity name.
“I think people look at that and understand, this is one line in a larger system,” he said.
Schmidt doesn’t think having a specific brand that is used for both bus rapid transit and light rail transit will be confusing.
“GRT is the overarching brand,” he said, but within that, the region already uses other brand names including iXpress and MobilityPlus.
“I think people will become familiar with it,” he said.
Brand names for bus rapid transit and light rail transit: What do they mean?
Arc: Curved like the route; a continuation of the evolution of transit; connections to geometry, electricity and art.
Ion: An atom with a net positive or negative electrical charge; connection to the area’s academic and scientific community; always in motion.
Trio: Three modes of transportation (local bus, iXpress, rapid transit); community, co-operation and collaboration; artistic, with a musical connotation.
Public consultation drop-in sessions:
Jan. 10, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
United Kingdom Club, 35 International Village Drive, Cambridge
Jan. 14, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Knox Presbyterian Church, 50 Erb Street West, Waterloo
Jan. 15, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
School of Pharmacy Lobby, 10A Victoria Street South, Kitchener
From Jan. 8 to Jan. 18, an online survey will also be available on the Region of Waterloo website.