Activating 'Nevada County Connects'

To Transformation Rural Public Transportation


Public transportation is a vital resource to many Americans, with the majority of its systems serving the country’s rural communities (1,308 rural versus 945 urban public transport systems). These smaller rural systems serve as lifelines for communities across the United States, including Nevada County, where nearly 70% of its residents live in unincorporated portions of the county. (Source: Nevada County Executive Report)

Nevada County, a thriving set of communities nestled in the foothills of Northern California, centered between the Sacramento Region and Lake Tahoe had a fairly well-utilized but outdated public transportation system, looking to refresh its image and increase ridership, leaving behind its outdated Gold Country Stage name and branding.

After a thorough research and discovery phase, 3fold rebranded Gold Country Stage into Nevada County Connects.

After rebranding, Nevada County Connects ridership increased 16% in 2022


To truly figure out how to solve the system’s outdated branding and perception challenges, we had to immerse ourselves in the community and the experience of riding Gold Country Stage. Our creative team took a boots on the ground approach, riding every fixed route line and exploring the on-demand services throughout the county. Meanwhile, our team conducted independent research and held multiple stakeholder interviews with county staff, elected officials, and community members. 

With a vision to align the brand’s simplicity and efficiency with an updated map and signage, 3fold embarked on a creative journey to revolutionize the way Nevada County Connect communicated with its riders and the community at large. We focused on:

  • Streamlined simplicity: Significantly reducing the visual “clutter” displayed on original maps and embracing the minimalist essence of the brand to enhance clarity
  • Consistent integration: Leveraging the stylistic elements of the updated map to promote Nevada County Connects across various platforms to create cohesive brand messaging
  • Brand Perception: Few residents were aware that Gold Country Stage was a public service of Nevada County and negatively affected their perception of the former brand


The collaborative partnership between Nevada County and 3fold Communications yielded not only modern, beautiful, and functional design solutions but also engendered a positive effect on ridership, enhancing connectivity for a broad spectrum of community members to access vital services, employment opportunities, and recreational pursuits. These outcomes stand in marked contrast to the prevailing trend of diminishing national public transportation ridership, as reported by CNBC.

Working with 3fold Communications has been a fantastic experience. We hired them for a transit system marketing project which included the development and implementation of a community-based initiative.

Throughout the project Carolyn provided great leadership and direction when our team was unfocused, laughter when enduring design challenges, and an understanding of our diverse local culture and how that is driving the project.
3fold was the perfect partner for our proiect.

– RobinVan Valkenburgh, Transit Services Manager at Nevada County Transit

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