It will be four years before Waterloo Region’s light rail transit system is up and running, but what the system will be called will be known much sooner.

Hundreds of possible names for the $818-million system have been pared down to a shortlist of three, which will be made public on Friday.

“I think we’d like something that’s short and memorable,” says Thomas Schmidt, the region’s transportation commissioner.

Naming is a key part of any new transit system. Names like the DART in Dallas and C-Train in Calgary are often cited as some of the most effective. In Toronto, the TTC brand is used for a wide variety of vehicles, including subways, streetcars and buses.

Once the shortlisted names are unveiled, there will be a series of open houses to determine which name is preferred by the public before a final decision is made in March.

Tim Mollison, a spokesperson for transit advocacy group TriTAG, says getting the brand name right is critical because it will have to last a long time.

“You need to look at all the ways that name can be used. You could also look at the ways that name could be taken in vain,” he says.

People stopped on the street in Waterloo Region gave CTV several suggestions for possible names, including Arrow, Grand River Light Rail, Intercity Line, Superfast and Regional Bullet.

The contract to build the initial LRT line will be awarded in 2014. LRT will initially run from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener, with rapid buses going between Fairview Park Mall and Cambridge.