How do you get 22-year-old college students to continue to take buses after college? How do you get 28-year-old professionals who want to help the environment, but who have never taken a bus, to consider stepping on a bus? The outside of our buses are the best opportunity to advertise them to potential riders ... or drive people away. How the buses are painted matters a lot.
Right now buses are painted white with red/blue stripes. While there used to be a lot of white cars 30 years ago, now that's out of fashion -- the only vehicles that are white are police cars, plumbing vans, and cargo trailers.
VTA should paint new buses attractive solid colors from top to bottom, and do the same for buses that need repainting. Pick a color, maybe the blue of the VTA logo, and make the whole bus that color. Make the words "Valley Transportation Authority" -- currently barely noticeable -- two or three times bigger. Replace the "VTA Keep the Valley Green" decal on the side of buses with an image of a large green leaf and the VTA logo inside it.
Paint the buses attractive colors -- and retain young, college-educated people.