Ottawa, Ontario


OC Transpo from Entro Communications on Vimeo.

The City of Ottawa recently transformed its transit system, OC Transpo, by introducing a whole new service: the O-Train Line 1, a light rail line, replaced many of the bus routes which previously formed the basis of the city’s transit system. This galvanizing initiative encourages growth, economic activity, and urban vibrancy by increasing rider capacity and connecting Ottawa’s outer boundaries to the downtown, while helping both residents and the city’s many visitors access a wealth of landmark attractions.

These changes meant passengers had to learn new routes, new nomenclature, and new infrastructure. Our role was to design a place brand and wayfinding program that would orient people helping them to understand and navigate through this new system.

Entro worked in collaboration with Terry Heard Designers to develop the overarching brand and Confederation line design. Entro then developed the system and service brand hierarchy to be applied to the overall existing transit network to create a seamless customer experience.

The project began with a thorough system-wide audit. We rode the system and studied how people were using it. We paid close attention to how, where, and when the different services, routes, directions, and destinations were communicated through all customer touchpoints – static and digital signage, maps, print materials, and online.

We conceptualized ways to make the system easier to understand. By making “OC Transpo” the primary brand, and the "O" as the system identifier, with all of the other services (bus and train lines, specialty services, connecting systems, and other sub-brands) taking clear but secondary roles in the environmental communications, we helped the system adopt a recognizable and unified identity. The iconic red “O” was essential to this endeavor – a playful element for identifying system amenities and stations.The Entro/THD team collaborated to explore creative ways to use it as a beacon and a streetscape feature.

As part of the overhaul, Entro also developed strategies for simplifying service hierarchies, route numbering, and route mapping to provide consistent, systematic information for use on maps and signage.

“Entro’s work has really put us on a solid footing ensuring we have high quality signage and wayfinding and information for our customers for years to come.” – Pat Scrimgeour, Director of Transit Customer Systems and Planning, OC Transpo

Photography: Ben Rahn/A-Frame