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Bold New Look Proposed For Metro Buses, Trains, 'M' Logo


Thursday June 19, 2003

(Los Angeles) - MTA is proposing a plan to give the nation's second largest transit system a clear image that would ensure instant recognition of the services it provides to the public.

Compared with other transit agencies in the United States and abroad, MTA's buses, trains, bus stops, transit passes, timetables, maps and literature are clad in an array of colors, logos, type fonts and signage.

    photo: lacmta/laura woodward
    Buses outside Union Station
    New MTA graphics program under review includes a plan to repaint Metro Buses and Metro Rail cars in colors that would clearly identify each vehicle with the type of service it would provide.
    Digital Photos: Send request to

The MTA staff presented the major elements of a new design program, Thursday, to the MTA Board's Executive Management and Audit Committee. The full Board is expected to discuss the program at a future meeting.

The proposed program includes a plan to repaint Metro Buses and Metro Rail cars in colors that will clearly identify each vehicle with the type of service it would provide. While bright red would continue to herald the successful Metro Rapid service, California poppy orange would denote local bus service and a crisp blue could be used on freeway express buses. All Metro Rail cars would either be painted silver or would retain their stainless steel appearance.

The base color to be used throughout the bus and rail fleet would be silver. When paired with reflective decals signifying type of Metro service, the design would improve safety and visibility on the street, especially at night.

In the near future, color schemes on bus stops would echo the bus service colors, making it easier for riders to match the route number with their bus.

The staff already has begun redesigning agency literature and plans to introduce a new look for the "M" logo to distinguish it from others.

Customer surveys show that 57 percent of respondents associated the current "M" logo with Metro or MTA - a number the staff believes would increase with consistent use of a more distinctive design.

"The proposed design program is broad," says Maya Emsden, deputy executive officer, Creative Services. "It would touch everything we do."

While changing the appearance of everything from buses to brochures can be planned rather quickly, actually making such a sweeping visual transformation would take several years. A three-year implementation plan has been developed to convert to the new design scheme.

Beginning as early as this year, existing buses and trains could be repainted in normal rotation over the three-year period. Three buses already have been repainted as prototypes of the new design. New buses would enter the fleet with the new paint schemes.

A similar procedure would be in effect for Metro Rail cars. And both projects would be accommodated within fiscal year budgets.

To MTA Chief Communications Officer Matt Raymond, the proposed new color schemes and graphic designs signal something larger - a rethinking of MTA services to better meet the needs of transit users.

"This isn't just about painting buses," he says. "This is a change in how we do business."

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