Consultants say deciding on a name, color scheme and other marketing concepts are important for the success of the new city bus system.
Like expectant parents waiting for the arrival of their new baby, Lawrence city officials have several decisions to make about the arrival of a new citywide bus system.
What should they call it? How should they dress it? How should they budget to pay for its needs? And, perhaps most important, what rules should guide its behavior when it goes out into the world to meet the public?
Those were some of the questions members of the Lawrence Public Transit Advisory Committee dealt with Wednesday as they continued to prepare for the birth of the new bus system.
The questions about names, color schemes and outward appearance are not trivial matters, officials said, because they are part of an overall marketing plan that could determine whether the bus system is a success.
Some of the suggestions so far include simple names like Lawrence Area Transit; Kaw Area (or Regional) Transit; and Lawrence Regional Transit.
Others try to capitalize on Lawrence's nickname and heritage, with names like River City Transit, River City Ride and Phoenix Transit -- one that some officials feared might lead to confusion with a bus system in Arizona.
Still other suggestions tried to incorporate a catchy, marketable theme to attach to the bus system: Yellow Dog Transit, Country Dog Transit, Blue Bird Transit or simply The Ride.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said there was no rush to decide on a name.
"We'll have to do it in conjunction with the buses being purchased, and that won't be until sometime in November," Wildgen said.
He also said there were no plans to have a "Name the Bus" contest.
According to Wildgen, the city plans to keep the appearance of the buses simple. That means it is unlikely the city will sell advertising space on the outside of the buses as some cities do, but there will be interior sign space along the aisles of the buses, above the seats.
Committee members also spent much of their time Wednesday going through fiscal and operating policies that the new bus system should consider.
Steve Klika of K.A. Associates, the consulting firm helping develop the bus system, said the city should rely as much as possible on local funds -- the city mill levy, fare box receipts, advertising revenue -- for ongoing operations, while reserving the bulk of federal funds for capital expenses such as buying vehicles and equipment.
The committee also received a report about requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Although the fixed-route bus system still must meet ADA requirements, Wildgen said it will operate much differently from the current public transportation services that offer door-to-door service for the people who are elderly or disabled.
The city bus system still must provide door-to-door service by appointment for people covered by ADA, officials from K.A. Associates said, but that may exclude some people who currently rely on other services provided in Douglas County.
Klika suggested the city adopt guidelines for what kind of "para-transit" service the new system will offer.
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Suggested names for Lawrence's new citywide bus system: