The orange and black buses of The Loop will be hard to miss as they travel their circuit of Quad-City downtowns.

The spiffy, low-floor, low-emission diesel buses that take to the streets later this year will be officially unveiled Thursday at the Quad-Cities Transportation Advocacy Group’s public forum. The beginning date for the Thursday-through-Sunday route will be announced at the forum.

“We really think it is going to be a hit with visitors,” said Becky Passman, Iowa Quad-City transit coordinator with Bi-State Regional Commission, Rock Island. “If you are from out of town, you don’t need to know anything about how to get there. Just hop on The Loop.”

Joe Taylor, president of the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, thinks The Loop will make the area more cohesive. The project is a coordinated effort by the three local transit agencies in Bettendorf, Davenport and the Illinois Quad-Cities.

“The Loop will allow the Quad-Cities to function as a unit,” he said. “This will help visitors get from Point A to Point B. With The Loop, you don’t have to have a geographical knowledge of the Quad-Cities.”

The circulator will run between the downtowns of Bettendorf, Davenport, Moline and Rock Island. The Village of East Davenport also will be on the route. Two buses will run in one direction and one bus will run counter to the other two on the route, Passman said. Fare will be $1 per ride, or

$3 for an all-day pass.

Four handicapped-accessible tomato-colored buses were bought for $836,808 through a grant received by the transit services. They are 100 percent funded, said Matt Symatis, Bettendorf city fleet manager. There will be stadium-style seating that rises slightly toward the back of the bus. Looking up, riders will be able to see the night sky through a skylight. The buses can seat 35.

Temporary signs for The Loop stops will be set up soon, with permanent signs expected to go up in a few months. The Loop buses will stop only at designated stops. Stops for the Channel Cat water taxi also will be on the route. The Loop and Channel Cat will be good complements to each other, Passman said.

The marketing effort hasn’t been put into gear yet, Passman said. Among plans are video screens on the buses that will show a video produced by the visitors bureau. Another offering could be advertising for local businesses or festivals. Drivers will receive hospitality training.

More information needs to be available, said Zach Wenthe, downtown manager for Renaissance Rock Island.

“I think we are optimistic at this point,” he said. “We are definitely interested. It is a great idea.”

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