You can call it the Flower Bus.
You can think of it as one big bumper
Best of all, you can ride it for cheap.
Four city buses - featuring images of
the State Capitol and various flowers by Mount Horeb artist
Peggy Zalucha - were unveiled this morning and started working
the "Downtown GetAround" shuttle route.
Beyond beautification, the mural buses
have a specific purpose: to get people to use the shuttles
(25 cents for the public, 10 cents for seniors and the disabled)
that run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays and connect
University Avenue, State Street, the capitol Square and the
Monona Terrace Convention Center.
"We hope the new look will get people
to notice the buses and learn what they are for," says Julie
Maryott-Walsh, the marketing and customer services manager
for Madison Metro.
Wrapping the buses with the unusual designs
should prove especially helpful to out-of-towners and tourists,
It all started by accident.
The city bought some used buses from
Philadelphia, Phoenix and Oshkosh and put them into service
before Madison Metro's own colors of blue, red, and yellow
had been put on them.
Isthmus newspaper columnist Dave Medaris
called Madison Metro about the new buses with odd colors and
was told that the bus designs would gradually be changed as
the city got around to it.
But, Medaris wondered aloud in print,
why not have a bus with a flower design by Zalucha.
Zalucha, who is best known for her annual
poster for Concerts on the Square, and whose work is featured
this summer in a show at the Mount Horeb Area Museum- read
Medaris' remarks and thought it was a good idea.
Then one day last December, she was dismissed
from jury duty and walked down the hall of the City-County
building into Mayor Sue Bauman's office to chat about the
"They thought it would be fun," Zalucha
says. "And it has been."
The rest, as they say, was details.
To work out the technical problems, Zalucha
consulted with Jeff Rank, the owner of Large Format Digital,
who works jointly with her new business Millennium Murals
(which will host an open house in Mount Horeb on July 17th
- 18th). Then she went to Madison Metro and the city transit
committee, which first authorized one bus, then three more.
To get the images on the vehicles, four
of Zalucha's floral watercolor paintings were combined with
photographs of the Capitol, then scanned into a computer,
digitally formatted and finally outputted on to a special
plasticized material that was also used for the University
for Wisconsin Sesquitennial promotions on city buses. It cost
about $8000 for each bus to get a mural, which is applied
like a jumbo decal or bumper sticker. During the day, part
of the mural will cover a few windows, but people on the bus
can look out while people outside the bus can't look in. At
night, however, passers-by will be able to see in through
Zalucha, who has one of her digital murals
hanging in the Bank of Cross Plains - designed the bus murals
for free, asking only copyright fees.
Each of the four buses focuses on the
Capitol in a specific season. Tulips are used to mark spring
on the first bus. Then come prairie flowers for summer;
mums and a bouquet for fall;
and evergreens and carnations for winter.
The murals are tough enough to be guaranteed
for five years on the streets, but will be changed annually
to incorporate new images.
Each year, Zalucha says, the old mural
will be peeled off and discarded and a new one put on.
I'm excited to see them," Zalucha says.
"I think they will generate a lot of interest."
"But the most important thing is that
Madison is not succumbing - as many cities have - to turning
buses into huge, ugly billboards. I give them credit for that."