A Metro bus in teal. Provided by King County Metro.
A Metro bus in teal. Provided by King County Metro.

Ever wonder why Metro buses come in differing colors? Well, there’s just three: green, blue, and teal. Those colors always run above a yellow highlights. For more information, check out this old article on the Metro website.

69 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Blue, Green, and Teal”

    1. I hated the old “sunset” paint scheme (or whatever they called it). So 1970s. The new one is more colorful and bright, which is nice on those gray winter days.

    2. I miss the old buses too. When I was an operator, my first route was the 158 to Kent, driving a 1400. The color scheme was funky, big daisy on the front. Curved stairway in the front, and roller signs *sigh*. I do miss those signs. Didn’t need to remember all the codes for the transign. And don’t forget about all the bondo in the trailer. With 3 feet of tailswing, I know every light pole along 2 Av was hit at some point between 1976 and 1999.

    3. I agree, Metro color scheme is so uninspiring and boring. Its a shame that all the other transit agencies in Washington seem to have a better taste of style with their buses and graphics. Swift color scheme and graphics look so much better than Rapid Ride. Every time I see that color scheme I think of Mc Donald’s. P-yuck, who come with Metro graphics and colors anyways?

      1. Probably the same folks who came up with the new Metro slogan:

        “We’ll get you there!”

        The first time I heard that one over my PA system – I couldn’t help thinking: “shouldn’t we be aiming a little higher than that?”

      1. I think, though, that the RapidRide scheme has more horizontal lines that add to a long and sleek look. Swift looks a little clunky to me.

      2. I also love the quotes from the philosophers on the Swift busses…I think that’s a nice touch. While I can understand the reasoning for doing a red (RapidRide), Swift’s fits in a whole lot better in the area.

  1. If I have money on my orca card epurse and then I load a Pugetpass on the card will the readers take the Puget pass first?

    1. Yep. The value of the PugetPass will be applied to your fare first, and if your fare is higher than that the balance will be deducted from your e-purse.

  2. I like the metro color scheme. Much more interesting than other cities I’ve lived in. Denver and DC did the White with the Stripe as well.

    The only one that came close was Boulder. Since they only had 5 main bus lines, they named all of them, and gave them name specific paint schemes:


    The Hop: Usually a smaller bus, so painted up like a little white rabbit
    The Skip: Dark green with “Skip” painted all over it
    The Jump: Painted red with things jumping around on it
    The Bound: Painted up like a super man comic book (“Can leap tall buildings in a single bound”)

    1. As nice as those MCIs look on the 594 Lakewood run, they’re a little too blue for me. They scream private charters much more than your friendly neighborhood public express bus.

      1. Although I’m not sure why that was a reply to my post, I agree.

        I ride the 594 all the time and it feels weird to be on those MCI’s. It does feel like a charter coach with one one door and a button up top to signal a stop. However, I know ST isn’t the only agency to use them for long-distance routes. In Paris, I’d ride some occasionally on the suburban night-routes. Still, it’s strange.

      2. I love WTA’s dots!

        On the MCIs–I thought it was cool when I took a 574 from the airport–it’s almost like being back on a plane. I wish MCI would’ve thought of tray tables.

      3. I’m definitely not complaining about them… so much more comfortable than your average bus.

  3. Interesting. I hadn’t seen that Metro article until now. All this time, I’d been thinking they’d started painting the buses one color scheme, decided it wasn’t working out, and switched to a different scheme for later buses. Ha! Now I know.

    Personally, I like the new colors a whole lot better than the old brown and yellow stripes. The bright yellow is a lot more visible to other vehicles and pedestrians, especially in the rain. Having the contrasting doors must be good for people with limited visibility, too.

  4. The yellow and blue is my favorite. The green and the teal are too similar. The teal looks like green paint that has faded to me.

      1. Mike:

        You’re not the only one! The alternate text for the image of the “blue” bus on this Metro page says “A purple Metro bus”.


  5. Green is good, teal is ok. Need brighter blue and warmer, more cheerful yellow. Read somewhere that bright blue-and-yellow is most visible vehicle color scheme.

    Yellow is always tricky- slight difference between beautiful and ugly. Shade Metro picked looks better on construction machinery than buses.

    Community Transit picked a good blue for its exteriors. But CT and ST blue interiors are dismal and frigid on the 511 after 9PM, especially under fluorescent lighting.

    Soft green interior would be more comfortable.

    Wonder how many of the team that picked the colors rode buses regularly- and how long?

    1. I like the interior colors in the newest Metro hybrids. I do like the older seats better though, the new ones are hard and uncomfortable on longer routes. The best bus seats I’ve found locally are the ones on the Metro operated ST coaches, they probably wouldn’t hold up well on busy in-city routes though. I also like the cloth straphangers on the older Metro coaches better, though I suppose the plastic ones are easier to grab in a hurry.

  6. Yellow, brown, and ochre on white: could it have been any more 70’s? I’m surprised they didn’t use avocado!

    And by the 90s, the color scheme and that daisy logo looked so dated.

    Pluse the current buses are much easier to see in the distance!

    1. The old Seattle Transit scheme would look really cool, though it might be a bit too close to Everett Transit’s current scheme.

  7. The old yellow and brown were uggglllyyyy. I remember being a kid and thinking how dirty the buses looked just based on the color scheme. The newer Metro scheme isn’t perfect, but it looks a little more modern and friendly. On the other hand, PT’s newer scheme hurts my head. A little too bright and cheery. I’ve always been partial to CT blue.

    Wow, a guy with 20/600 vision discussing colors. Weird.

    Oh, and yeah the contrasting door colors do help a bit with low vision.

  8. Does anyone know of the bigger picture of the elimination of paper transfers next year? When I was riding home on the 554 yesterday, the driver and an elderly man from Los Angeles were talking about how much they disapproved of this inevitability. I agree. I’m one who recognizes that a number of people will not switch to ORCA along with plenty of tourists that will use our system as Link grows. It’s completely silly for a tourist to have to buy an ORCA card just to transfer between transit modes.

    That also brings up the question: will Link RT tickets continue to act as Day Passes across all agencies?

    1. I should also add that the driver was openly admitting that ST was doing a poor job in notifying the public about the elimination. Aside from the digging through ST’s website, it seems that no one else seems to know that the transfers are going away.

    2. I’m confused. The ‘big splash’ ORCA press release said that ORCA cards will be free until Feb 1, 2010. And some sources, like King County Ferries, say end of this year. PugetPasses are also going away at the end of this year. Not sure how that affects Link RT tickets.

      At least if cards are free until next February, people still can get them at no extra cost when they find out.

      Like I said earlier, the ‘big splash’ needs to be bigger. We need a tidal wave.

    3. I’m hearing that ST is not taking transfers from any other agency starting Jan 1st. It was discussed in our staff meeting, but I don’t have the documentation to prove it.

      1. CT has also said we will not have or take transfers after Jan. 1st..Orca only way to transfer. Drivers of the 101 and 358 will get a lot of mad customers at aurora village.

      2. King County Metro and Pierce Transit will be the only transit agencies in ORCA that will continue to use paper transfers within their own systems.

        That means more inconsistencies and confusion.

        I wish CT would partner with Metro and install an ORCA card vending machine at Aurora Village. The only way to get an ORCA card on the Swift line is at Everett Station. The Swift TVMs are just repurposed parking pay stations.

      3. Count me in for thinking this as super lame. I’ll blame it on a cost saving measure that CT will remedy with more funding later on, but still, lame.

    4. I was riding the 594 late the other day and as we got into Seattle, a woman asked the driver what to do with her ORCA as she transferred to another bus. She said, “Should I just show it or should I scan it? I don’t want it to charge me again” and the driver said he didn’t know and gave her a paper transfer. She laughed and said it’s probably easier that way and they both agreed.

      What I don’t understand is how the driver wouldn’t know the answer to such a basic question? Especially at this point, it’s really unacceptable.

      1. If operators don’t know the basics of ORCA then we’re in serious trouble. How hard could it be?
        • ORCA is your cash fare, your pass, and your transfer, all in one card.
        • Hold your ORCA near the ORCA logo until it beeps to pay or transfer.
        • It figures fares and transfers for you. (assuming the reader is set correctly).
        • Load your ORCA with cash or passes at customer service offices, online, ticket vending machines, and participating retailers.
        • Set up Autoload and never worry about reloading your card (or waiting 24 hrs) again.

      2. *facepalm*

        This is bad. The driver who I overheard in conversation said that he didn’t know about the elimination of transfers until he had to ask another co-worker after hearing a rumor about it.

      3. the upper management constently leave the drivers out of the loop, so you can’t blame the driver..when the bays were changed at aurora village, ct drivers were notified by a note on the white board that morning.

    5. Anyone know how many cards have already been given away? I picked up a new ORCA card for my brother yesterday. The card I got was numbered in the xx187xxx range. So around 190,000 cards?

      1. The one I got the first day from Westlake’s Custmer service: 10043xxx. TVM outta Pioneer Square August 21: 10186xxx.

    6. Kitsap Transit’s last day for paper transfers will be October 31. Most of the bus drivers appear to be dreading November 1, but have adopted an upbeat and gently activist approach to the inevitable. They’re simply telling every rider who asks for a transfer that paper transfers are going away on October 31, and are encouraging the person to get an ORCA card. A number of riders have gotten into the spirit of the thing, happily showing their ORCA cards to those without, talking up the project, and noting that the cards are free until February 1. There are still lots of problems with new users “swiping” their cards. The drivers are definitely getting tired of that, and are firmly telling errant users to hold their cards in front of the card processor until it beeps and they see a green light. Some riders are resisting, though, and insist that they should “be able to swipe.”

      As far as I can tell, ORCA cards are available in Kitsap County at only two locations – Kitsap Transit’s customer service office at the Bremerton ferry terminal, and the Kingston Thriftway. So, in three weeks, everybody will probably have some insight into how the paper transfer part of the transition, at least, is going to play out on January 1 in the rest of the region.

      Also, a couple of weeks ago the “Ride Smarter: Get an ORCA Card Today!” brochure finally began making its way onto a number of buses and ferries. Unfortunately, the copy doesn’t seem to be particularly well-written and doesn’t thoroughly explain the program. The riders I see reading the brochure seem to be puzzled or irritated, rather than interested, and I don’t think there are enough details to inspire somebody unfamiliar with ORCA to buy into the concept. I hope somebody’s able to convince the Central Puget Sound Regional Fare Coordination Project to do better.

      1. Most of the bus drivers appear to be dreading November 1, but have adopted an upbeat and gently activist approach to the inevitable. They’re simply telling every rider who asks for a transfer that paper transfers are going away on October 31, and are encouraging the person to get an ORCA card. A number of riders have gotten into the spirit of the thing, happily showing their ORCA cards to those without, talking up the project, and noting that the cards are free until February 1.

        Way to go drivers and riders! I love it when people take matters into their own hands.

    7. The myriad of passes, tickets, paper transfers, hospital tags, notes from lord only knows who, etc… that people present as payment of fare HAS to go away. Sounder and Link tickets are not quickly readable by drivers so we tend to just wave people on. Paper transfers aren’t much better. We need consistency to get rid of confusion down the road and for better or worse, ORCA is it.

      One solution to tourist ORCA cards could be thinner one-time or temporary ORCA cards. We had ORCA passes during training which were just slightly thicker than paper and were probably designed for one-time or short-term use. They seemed thin enough that a ticket vending machine, similar to the Seattle parking machines, could spit them out.

      PLEASE, whatever you do… Figure out a way to kill the barrage of fare payment media that we see on a daily basis.

      1. Some systems (Bangkok, Taipei, Delhi, Shenzhen, etc.) use RFID tokens which are basically plastic coins with the smart chip inside it. You use it like a normal smart card to enter and drop it into the fare gate to exit the system. However, I think that only works for closed systems. Or they could put a deposit value on them. Return the tokens for reuse and get your deposit back. That reduces waste from disposable tickets.

  9. You’ll never miss your bus while sitting on the corner, that’s for sure. The color scheme is fine, I think, especially when compared to some others I’ve seen. In one city I visited last year, I saw city busses that were mostly white with blue and red accents. Now those busses are hard to see, especially when it’s snowing!

  10. Pentagram Design’s blog recently had a note about a new program the company is co-developing for the Hudson River and New York Harbor. It’s a kit of parts for small, inexpensive docks that can be placed in dozens of locations throughout the region, linking water travel to public transit while giving all communities access to the water and water transportation.

    …a consortium of New York civic groups—including the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and the Hudson River Foundation—have been developing plans for a system of “Quad Landings”: floating docks designed to allow access to and from the water for a wide variety of vessels, from ferries and water taxis to sailboats, kayaks, and other craft.

    Building on this initiative, James Biber of Pentagram Architects and James Sanders of James Sanders + Associates have developed Riverways, a practical, economical, and flexible system of elements that allow water access where there is currently none, or enhance ferry and water-taxi landings that already exist. Though relatively small in scale, these elements are intended to provide crucial points of linkage, integrating the region’s water and land transportation into a single unified system, and opening the city’s waters for recreation to the immense populations adjacent to them. The proposal is designed to increase access to the water for communities frustrated by their proximity to magnificent waterways that can be seen but not touched.

    I don’t see any reason why something like Riverways couldn’t be developed for our little corner of the Salish Sea, especially with the King County Ferry District and Kitsap Transit diligently working – together – to resurrect the Mosquito Fleet. (It could happen, and the economy will eventually rebound.) It certainly makes a lot more sense than the complex and expensive facilities that appear to be planned for the Puget Sound and Lake Washington. The concept also ties in perfectly with ORCA: such docks wouldn’t even have to have TVMs, as ORCA readers and fare boxes are on the boats.

    Riverways is a brilliant concept and is thoroughly explained on Pentagram’s Riverways page, which also features a brief concept video and a link to a detailed PDF of the proposal.

    1. Looks nice, but is it really that revolutionary? I haven’t seen any of KC Ferry’s designs, but I’d logically expect something similar to that. Then again, this could be something that just seems so obvious and right that Seattle decides to go with something completely different for complexity’s sake…

  11. Hopefully they get the ORCA card and paper-transfer planning sorted out by the end of the year. From what it looks like, it seems the inter-agency planning regarding the elimination of paper transfers and the integration of ORCA is not working as smoothly as expected.

  12. I want to start a drumbeat for trying to get the Stranger and Seattle Weekly Newspapers to help out with cleaning with Metro bus shelters and stops – I am getting more than tired with picking up discarded Stranger and Weekly newspapers and binning them where they should go. People leaving these newspapers all around bus stops and shelters makes for a disgusting appearance to many of the stops on the network. Yesterday I picked up almost an entire paper’s worth of individual pages scattered around the Campus Parkway stop in the University District. All of this discarded trash makes for a horrible contrast with the beautiful fall colors that are in abundance right now.

    Anyone got an update on how well the new Leavenworth Station is going down with passengers. I wish the local press here had covered this story more than they did. I wonder how many potential users of the Empire Builder know they can now stop in Leavenworth?

    1. Tim,

      I’m not sure if this is true or not, but the Empire Builder had to tag an extra coach on Fridays Seattle departure for folks going to Octoberfest in Leavenworth.

      Not sure how things looked on the way back though but a friend of mine said on his way back to Spokane, there was at least 60 that got on there and all wished there was an earlier train.

    2. Hey, I like picking up one of those to read on the bus, especially if it’s a Seattle Times or New York Times. Some people complain about newspapers left on buses, but I’m glad they’re there.

  13. Excellent, Brian! I like the sound of that one. I had to read it twice though because I thought for a minute that you were saying that folks returning from Leavenworth were wishing there was an earlier train! That couldn’t be so – we need a later train returning from Leavenworth. When I next go to Leavenworth, I want to take the train but the money to stay in town!

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