A branding plan for transit across the metro area would link bus rapid transit and light rail in a web of colored lines. Will Cedar Avenue someday be known as the Red Line?
For now, call it Cedar Avenue bus rapid transit.
But someday it may be the Red Line or the Blue Line or the Green Line -- pick a color.
Following the example of cities around the country, the Metropolitan Council is hatching a plan to better brand transit in the metro area.
In the case of bus rapid transit and its track-riding cousin light rail, that brand comes in multiple colors.
"As we have a more complicated system that includes different modes, such as light rail and commuter rail, we need to illustrate to the customer how they can use all the services in an efficient manner," Cole Hiniker, a Met Council transportation planner, told Dakota County Board members recently as they learned how the plan could affect transit on Cedar Avenue.
The line colors, he said, would help people understand that light rail (LRT) and bus rapid transit (BRT) operate similar station-to-station services and offer easy transfers for longer trips, no matter who is running the bus or train.
Commuter lines, such as Northstar and other planned routes like the Red Rock Corridor down to Hastings, would not be part of the color-coded system map because they serve a different purpose and run only at certain times of day.
But all regional transit vehicles, including BRT buses and light rail and commuter trains, would be painted with splashes of red, white, yellow and blue and be labeled by an undetermined systemwide name.
That would be a switch in the south metro, where riders are used to the orange and green buses operated by Minnesota Valley Transit Authority. Local MVTA routes and express routes would still bear that south-metro agency's logo and colors.
"Branding is important, but I know that we have different organizations [providing transit] throughout this metro," said Dakota County Commissioner Will Branning, who is also the chairman of the MVTA board. "It's difficult [for those groups] to make decisions if everything is proscribed."
Still, County Board members who have been working with MVTA to shepherd one of the region's first BRT lines on Cedar Avenue seemed to give cautious support to the branding plan, while reiterating a desire for sleek buses that mimic the design of light-rail cars as much as possible.
"If you're going to make the branding look alike on [BRT] buses and LRT, make the actual vehicle look the same," Commissioner Paul Krause said. "I have said this many, many times, and it still scares me that we're going to get a [regular] bus or a bus-looking BRT."
Katie Humphrey • 952-882-9056