Pierce Transit determined that full vinyl wraps were the most efficient, impactful, and durable...

Pierce Transit determined that full vinyl wraps were the most efficient, impactful, and durable method to get its new battery-powered buses noticed.

Photo: Pierce Transit

Pierce Transit has a long history of embracing newer, clean energy technologies to reduce pollution, so when they acquired six 40-foot electric GILLIG buses — some of the first off the assembly line — they knew they wanted to announce to the public that they are powered by electricity.

But how? Pierce determined that full vinyl wraps were the most efficient, impactful, and durable method to get these battery-powered buses noticed.

Amidst the announcement of new Pierce Transit CEO, Michael Griffus, who is poised to hone Pierce’s commitment to diverse and sustainable energy, we spoke with Kathy Walton, marketing supervisor, about why Pierce chose vinyl wraps, and what the experience was like with Turbo Images as their fleet graphics provider:

What was your reasoning behind wrapping your new buses?

For this sub-fleet of battery-electric buses, we very much wanted to emphasize that they are powered by electricity. In addition to emphatically communicating 'electric' bus, we sought a bold, vibrant, and memorable look that would be modern, sleek, and impart a sense of movement and energy.

You have existing Proterra electric buses.Were they wrapped, too? 

No. Our Proterra electric buses were branded using a combination of paint applied during the manufacturing stage, and cut-vinyl, reflective decals applied by a contracted vendor at the Pierce Transit base. The decals were produced and installed by another vendor.

Why did you choose vinyl graphics over paint?

Since we were going for a very bold design on the new GILLIGs, we knew the branding would be quite complex, and could be challenging to replicate if painted — on portions of a bus — during eventual repairs down the road. With full vinyl wraps, the agency will be able to purchase sections of new vinyl to be installed after our maintenance staff complete their repairs. We are expecting this to be an effective and efficient process for restoring damaged buses to their full original look.  

What were the most important things you wanted when looking for a fleet graphics provider? How did you select Turbo Images?

For us, it was important to find a provider who offered a competitive price, proven expertise (particularly with branding buses), creative examples of past projects, and of course the ability to meet our project timeline. Through a competitive process, Turbo Images scored the highest overall among the proposals received.

In addition to producing and installing the wraps, Turbo Images designed the graphics, too. Is that right?

Yes, this is correct. We wished to depart from the graphic look on the Proterras, primarily because Pierce Transit has rebranded over the last few years. We sought a design that would take inspiration from the 'leaf/electric circuitry' elements in the Proterra branding. In this way, we have some continuity between the Proterra and the GILLIG designs, even though the two subfleets feature different color palettes. Turbo did an excellent job bridging the gap.

What were the best things about working with Turbo Images?

Turbo created an outstanding, dramatic design for us that met our expectations. We appreciated their attention to all the details involved when designing for a three-dimensional vehicle that has many vents, lights, compartments, and so forth that impact the specific locations where design elements should be placed. 

How is this new fleet being received?

While preparing these buses for service, we have posted initial photos on social media. The reaction has been extremely positive, and people are excited to see these buses in person and get on board.

How do you anticipate these buses will help you move into the future?

The battery-electric propulsion enables us to continue reducing our impact on the environment, as well as continues our commitment to having a diversified fleet. Our buses are the primary ‘face’ of Pierce Transit. We want people to notice not only that a bus is a Pierce Transit bus, but also to impart a feeling of our forward-thinking approach to service and emerging technologies such as electric vehicle capabilities.