DENVER — Denver Public Schools' department of transportation was honored for the launch of its innovative school bus shuttle system, the Success Express.

The department received a Gold Peak Award at the Colorado American Marketing Association’s annual awards gala on June 7. The event celebrates the creativity and achievements of Denver’s marketing and advertising community.

The Denver Public Schools transportation department earned top-level honors in the “New Product or Service Launch” category, recognizing the fall 2011 debut of its safe and reliable shuttle service in the district’s Far Northeast and Near Northeast school networks.

“We are delighted that the efforts involved in implementing this program, and communicating its purpose and operating procedures to parents, students and schools, is celebrated among Colorado’s top marketing professionals,” said Nicole Portee, executive director of transportation services. “This is a reflection of the diligent collaboration that channels the community’s values.”

In engaging the community in the branding of the service, the district's communications and transportation departments conducted a series of focus groups with students, parents, community members and transportation employees. They used the focus group results to help establish a name, tagline, logo and color palette for the service, and they ultimately provided multiple communications tools designed specifically for families with language, socioeconomic or technology barriers.

Success Express features a fleet of Denver Public Schools buses that circulate through the Far Northeast and Near Northeast neighborhoods and offer students three opportunities to catch a ride, replacing a traditional transportation model that included one stop in the morning and another in the afternoon for a given neighborhood.

Notably, all students are eligible to use the system — instead of the 10% eligible for the traditional service.

Heading into its second school year in fall 2012, the shuttle runs from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and then from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., facilitating more flexible school days and on-time access for students to their participating school of choice, officials said.

Students can get on or off any bus at any stop and wait for the next bus to arrive in 15 minutes or less if they miss the first one.

Although the service is open to eligible students of all grade levels, older children are not always on the bus at the same time as younger children, because school bell times determine when students are on the bus. For safety, each bus has a paraprofessional on board to manage student behavior and to make sure each child gets on and off at the correct stop.

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