Coordinated marketing plan involves Portland, South Portland buses, ferries

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Getting there from here is expected to become easier as the Greater Portland Council of Governments finalizes a branding and marketing plan for regional public transportation systems.

The scope and elements of the plan were presented to South Portland city councilors at a Sept. 9 workshop session by Jennifer Puser, GPCOG transit and energy planner.

Councilors endorsed the plan. A vote is not needed because City Manager Jim Gailey has already signed a memorandum of understanding that created the planning effort.

“The goal is not to take over your brand, but develop an umbrella brand,” Puser said as she outlined the regional effort involving the city bus service, Casco Bay Island Transit District, Greater Portland Transit District, Biddeford-Saco Old Orchard Beach ShuttleBus/Zoom, and York County Community Action Corp.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is a supporting partner in the effort.

Creating a unified brand with a common logo for each vehicle or vessel, a joint website for bus service providers, and coordinated customer service for the transit districts are the key elements of the plan.

Puser said implementation could begin shortly, but the plan still needs to be presented to officials at Casco Bay Lines and the Greater Portland Transit District, commonly known as Metro.

The plan was created after a memorandum of understanding was signed by the agencies in June 2012. Branding and marketing committee meetings and focus groups were held from November 2012 through April.

The immediate cost will not exceed $500 per vehicle or vessel for the identifying logo, but south Portland Bus Service Director Art Handman said Monday there will be more money needed to fund joint customer service.

The plan also calls for a unified color scheme for the bus services to be adapted over time and adding regional logos to local bus shelters. The customer service center would operate from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.; calls about train and ferry service would be referred to Amtrak and Casco Bay Lines.

The committee was appointed by the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, commonly known as PACTS. The marketing plan is one of several PACTS efforts to improve public transportation and attract new users.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.