As promised, the agency once known as Central Arkansas Transit showed off its new look and logo today with a visit by a new bus to our neighborhood. It’s now Rock Region Metro, y’all. A gas-powered fleet is in the works. So far, no makeover of the River Rail uniform dress, except for a temporary sign.
The summary news release:
The Central Arkansas Transit Authority officially transitioned to its new name, Rock Region METRO, Tuesday, implementing a new brand to match the adoption of a new service plan.
“The Rock Region METRO brand reflects the citizen-focused, forward-thinking organization we are,” said Jarod Varner, Rock Region METRO executive director. “We want to weave our brand into every aspect of our business, educating the public about our services while also representing a transit system of which they can be proud.”
The Rock Region METRO brand is one of the major recent outcomes of the Move Central Arkansas project, a comprehensive planning effort involving a variety of stakeholders in public transit. The new brand will support a service plan recently adopted by the Rock Region METRO board of directors. The plan focuses on three key areas: service expansion and improvements, comprehensive and consistent branding and exploring funding opportunities to support the former.
“It’s an exciting time for Rock Region METRO,” said Allie Freeman, board chairman, “We want our fellow Arkansans to get excited about immediate and future plans we have for our public transit system. Little Rock can be a leader among its peers where public transit is concerned, and this rebranding is one step toward strengthening the existing system.”
The rebranding process will continue for the next seven months. Immediate changes can be seen on the organization’s website and social media pages, rrmetro.org, Facebook.com/rrmetro and @rrmetro, respectively; on new signage at streetcar and bus shelters and on signage at the River Cities Travel Center, 310 E. Capitol Ave., Little Rock. New bus stop signs sporting route numbers and a customized texting system based on stop locations will appear in September. The most visible aspect of the rebranding initiative can be seen on the fleet’s 15 new compressed natural gas-fueled buses, which will start service Wednesday, Aug. 12. Older vehicles in the fleet will be rotated out of service now through March and painted to match the brand’s new look. By the end of 2025, the entire Rock Region METRO heavy-duty bus fleet will be replaced with the new CNG-fueled bus models.
Passenger service improvements are being planned for the near future. Starting Wednesday, Aug. 12, all fixed-route and express buses will offer passengers free WiFi. The METRO Tracker GPS-based mobile app is in beta testing and will debut in September. A digital screen added to the River Cities Travel Center will display bus departure and arrival times once the METRO Tracker app debuts and will provide an announcement service in the interim. Finally, Rock Region METRO will add 35 new bus shelters across its service area by the end of the year.
The new Rock Region METRO name and brand was developed by the San Francisco-based firm Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, an internationally recognized firm specializing in transportation systems development.
“We are very pleased with the work Nelson\Nygaard has done on behalf of the Move Central Arkansas project,” said Varner. “The research, planning and expertise they have provided has helped Rock Region METRO poise for immediate growth and a positive impact on our community.”