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Posted at 1:27 PM ET, 11/15/2010

Top 10 bus paint jobs

By Dan Malouff
We have a lot of different bus providers in this region. In addition to WMATA, every county or county-level locality has its own system. Last year BeyondDC ranked them by ridership, providing a basis for meaningful comparison of service levels.

Today I'm in the mood for something a little more frivolous. Therefore, in the interests of nerdy transit fun, here are the 10 largest D.C. regional bus agencies ranked by the quality of their current standard livery:

Number 1: WMATA Metrobus
WMATA's new paint job for buses looks great, and the idea to show local and express buses in different colors was an inspired move. My only complaint: That you can't see the local red or express blue from the front, where it would be most useful to riders waiting at bus stops.

Number 2: Fairfax City CUE
Clean, modern, unique. I'm a big fan. Best bus most Washingtonians have probably never seen.

Number 3: Arlington ART
Simple, but in a good way. The wavy green is instantly recognizable and more fun than the standard stripe-on-white-background.

Number 4: DC Circulator
The wavy red is good in all the same ways as ART's green, and the addition of yellow adds a little more interest. So why rank Circulator below ART? All those destination names printed on the side of the bus are cluttering and confusing; you can't get to Georgetown on the 14th Street route, so Georgetown shouldn't be in big letters on its side.

Number 5: Fairfax County Connector
Fairfax's ketchup and mustard scheme rounds out the top five as the last of the paint jobs I personally like. Others say it's tacky. What do you think?

Number 6: Montgomery County Ride-On
Solid colors are more noticeable and better looking than horizontal stripes. Ride-On's new livery at least has that going for it. But it seems backwards. Rear-facing chevrons and trim make the bus look like it's perpetually slowing down, and I can't help but think the pastel colors will begin to feel dated quickly. The old paint scheme was a lot better.

Number 7: Prince William Omni-Ride
The best of the three bus systems that still use a horizontal stripe on a white background. Omni-Ride tops the other two because its stripe is the thickest.

Number 8: Alexandria Dash
Looks like its from about 1985. The diagonal bit is something. Not much, but something.

Number 9: Prince George's County The Bus
Even by the standards of stripe-on-white, this is ugly.

Number 10: Loudoun County Transit
The dishonor of last place goes to Loudoun, for not even trying. Logo sticker on a plain white background. Y-a-w-n.

Honorable mentions: No list of cool bus paint jobs would be complete without mentioning REX, Metro's Go Green, and Dash's streetscape liveries. They're all great, but as special schemes are not eligible for the main ranking.

Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Dan Malouff  | November 15, 2010; 1:27 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Maryland, Metro, Virginia, transportation  
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