Council hits pause on $366K request to rebrand Calgary BRT network

City council has asked for more time to ponder a $366,000 funding request to rebrand Calgary's bus rapid transit (BRT) network.

Administration has proposed renaming BRTs to MAX

The cost of rebranding Calgary's BRT network has been pegged at $366,000. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Calgary city council has asked for more time to ponder a $366,000 funding request to rebrand the city's bus rapid transit (BRT) network.

Councillors were asked to approve the funding request at a finance committee meeting Thursday. The funds, according to a document presented to council by administration, are intended to inform customers about the BRT's new name — MAX — as well as increase both awareness and passenger numbers.

"MAX sets the service apart from the current BRT and other bus service offered today with a simple and memorable name that expresses the maximum level of service available for Calgary Transit bus customers," reads the marketing strategy.

Committee members said they were facing a busy agenda and voted to move the issue to a committee meeting next week to allow more time to assess the plan, which includes marketing, public education, signs and even a distinctive colour scheme.

Coun. Evan Woolley says he'd like to see more details about the marketing strategy. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Coun. Evan Woolley said he'd like to see more details, including the research behind the new name.

"I think what caught everybody a little off guard was that we hadn't had a really good conversation about the branding exercise," Woolley said. 

Some members said they wanted more details about where the funds would go.

"Whenever you invest money into something there should be a return on that investment. I would like to have some idea of, spending $366,000, what do you think would be the increase in ridership if that actually happens?" said Coun. Shane Keating.

Coun. Jeromy Farkas says he'd rather see funds go toward improving services than marketing. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

And Coun. Jeromy Farkas said he felt the requested amount was too big.

"I think if administration's asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve transit service, it should be for the front lines, not marketing," Farkas said.

The mayor said he liked the idea and wasn't concerned about the delay.

"Sometimes council, you just can't throw too much in front of people all at once … they just need the ability to think about it," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

The proposal is one of three rebranding packages being assessed by the city. The proposal would target awareness campaigns at the 320,000 Calgarians who live along BRT routes in 53 communities.

With files from Dave Gilson