The public doesn't have much confidence in the Utah Transit Authority and sees it as a "plodding bureaucratic entity."

UTA board members did not fall off their chairs Wednesday when that bit of opinion-poll wisdom was offered by executives from the Salt Lake advertising agency FJCN/W&R. UTA officials are all too aware that the public image of their six-county bus company leaves a lot to be desired.Instead of recoiling in shock, board members approved a new UTA logo created by the firm as part of a campaign to change UTA's public persona.

The circular, striped, red-white-and-blue icon could begin showing up on UTA buses, Flextrans vehicles, rideshare vans, drivers' uniforms, signs, stationery and other company equipment within weeks.

If the board decides to repaint all of the agency's vehicles, the cost of the image overhaul could reach $220,000 in taxpayer dollars. For that reason, board member Sam Taylor said he opposed the new logo's adoption. He cast the only dissenting vote Wednesday.

"The public doesn't know very much about UTA, and what they do know is sometimes misinformation," FJCN/W&R chief executive Bob Fotheringham told the board.

"The new logo," added Dave Newbold, the firm's creative director, "symbolizes change and new leadership - the vision to adjust, the desire to improve, flexibility."

UTA Board Chairman Jim Clark said now is the perfect time to "get a new face lift for the entire agency."

UTA has ordered 98 low-floor buses and 12 extended-length buses, which will begin arriving within six months, and will soon begin painting some of the 23 light-rail vehicles it has ordered. TRAX light rail service will begin in March of 2000.

UTA has undergone several internal changes within the last year, hiring a new general manager and several other high-level staffers. The board, too, has seen several members come and go.

"It is a bold, fresh identity that will visually connect our transit services and reflect a new, progressive vision for mass transit as we move into the new century," general manager John Inglish said of the logo.

Newbold told the board that circular shapes convey a more comfortable feeling than straight lines or hard edges and symbolize unity and wholeness.

Fotheringham said the firm wants to use the logo and its new ad campaign, which includes a pair of television commercials, to "build the UTA name into more of a brand."

The logo was chosen by the ad agency and a board committee from a number of proposed logos. Board member Max Hogan said the group definitely wanted to keep the agency's current red-white-and-blue color scheme.