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Bus Rapid Transit Identity: An Overview of Current “Branding” Practice

The emergence of new bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in recent years has prompted transit agencies across North America to establish new and unique identity programs that communicate various benefits of improved bus service. These identities and brands, however, rely largely on perception and emotional reaction, which are difficult to quantify. This lack of “hard data” makes the efficacy of identity systems and expenditures on them difficult to assess. This evaluation of 22 BRT identity programs examines the typical constructs used to establish BRT identity: visual identifiers, nominal identifiers, and color palette. Through analysis of these constructs, we find that when deployed consistently across a range of media, BRT identity may help to further build and reinforce a positive perception of BRT service and, by extension, a positive public image for public transit in general. We conclude that BRT identity must be flexible in design to accommodate future needs, plans for expansion, and technological evolution.