HOPEWELL — The familiar purple-and-white buses that distinguish Ontario County’s public transportation system will soon be a thing of the past.
As part of the county’s new affiliation with the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, more than two dozen buses are being wrapped with new logos and design elements. Riders and motorists should start seeing the change in the coming weeks.
The buses are being rebranded RTS Ontario, part of an effort by the authority to rebrand all of its systems in the eight counties it covers: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne and Wyoming.
Bill Carpenter, the authority’s executive director, said the goal is to foster stronger connections to the Rochester Transit Service brand as “the bus company” and greater awareness and interest in public transportation.
“Our current logos were crafted decades ago, and as we took on new subsidiaries there was no naming structure in place to tie operations together,” he said. “We believe this refreshed brand identity more accurately represents our organization — one that’s driving forward to become our community’s preferred transportation choice.”
In addition to changing Ontario County’s system from County Area Transportation System to RTS Ontario, the authority is changing Seneca Transit Service to RTS Seneca and Wayne Area Transportation to RTS Wayne. Buses on the road will incorporate the new design gradually, while new vehicles will bear the new design as they are purchased.
Ontario County Administrator John Garvey said a Farmington company, Ewing Graphics, was recently awarded a contract for more than $83,000 to wrap the CATS buses with the new brand.
The company is in the process of doing 28 buses, while the remaining 10 buses in the fleet will not be wrapped as they are due for replacement.
In May, the county Board of Supervisors voted to terminate its contract with MV Transportation and join the Rochester-area authority. The switch boiled down to finances after state officials decided to have a Syracuse company arrange transportation for non-emergency Medicaid patients in Ontario and other upstate counties, a move resulting in fewer of those patients taking CATS buses and MV receiving less Medicaid reimbursement.
Authority officials said the Ontario County routes, schedules and fares will remain the same for the foreseeable future. The authority also plans to offer intercounty transportation in the future.
Carpenter added that the authority’s new tag line, “Enjoy the Ride,” is also part of the rebranding effort. Maryalice Keller, the authority’s chief people and brand officer, said the RTS name and logos should give riders a sense of continuity.
“During our research, we were pleased to discover that people throughout our service area expressed a strong connection to RTS as ‘the bus company’ and said we provide a vital, dependable service,” she said. “But with nine different bus company names and logos, most people didn’t understand that all of our services are connected. As an organization we’re working to transform the public transit experience in our region into an experience that’s not only safe, reliable and convenient, but one that’s also easy to enjoy.”