Posted: Thursday, February 27th 2014 at 12:08pm
Aging Red Rabbit gets a facelift
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – The Red Rabbit will soon be a memory: no, not the service it provides, but the name.
The Gainesville City Council joined Community Service Center Director Phillippa Lewis Moss and staff members in the City Hall parking lot this morning for the unveiling of “Gainesville Connection”, the rebranded identity of the Hall Area Transit Bus Service.
Mayor Danny Dunagan said he was excited to see the change and added that he thought the time to make such a move was overdue.
“We have new, seven, Gainesville Connection buses,” Moss said. “They’re pretty much the same model Chevy buses that we purchased in the past, but, of course, it’s rebranded.”
The cerulean blue sky matched the color scheme perfectly. “The blue and the green colors are (complimentary) to the landscape surrounding Gainesville area, both the mountains and the lake. We’re all just very excited about this new rollout,” Moss added.
City Director of Communications and Tourism Catiel Felts said that the Red Rabbit moniker had been in use since the service first began “over fourteen years ago. I believe the first bus went out on New Year’s Eve 1999.”
Felts explained that the current fleet of buses would be phased out and replaced by the newer vehicles (with the rebranded graphics) sometime in the first part of March and as additional buses were added to the fleet.
“These new buses will be ‘Smart Buses’, they’ll have technology inside,” Hall Area Transit Operations General Manager Richard Ticehurst said.
Ticehurst was piloting the bus brought to the unveiling and invited Council members onboard.
“The bus actually talks to you,” Ticehurst continued. “When you pull the cord for the bus to stop, the bus will say, ‘Please be seated until the bus comes to a complete stop.’ It’ll also let you know stops along the route.”
Recent reports show that ridership on the service is up but revenues are somewhat flat, prompting Mayor Danny Dunagan to make a request at the ensuing City Council work session. “I would like to… have a monthly report on the ridership of the Gainesville Connection/Red Rabbit…and also in that report I would like to see how many paying and non-paying riders. I want to see the ratio.”
The Red Rabbit might be disappearing, but as it fades away it will be closely watched.
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