Some of you may find this trivial, but nomenclature can often play a big role in defining how a transit system is marketed and ultimately how it’s communicated to its customers. Take our transit center, for example– loosely defined as a hub where connecting services converge upon each other to serve one geographic concentration. Yet, you wouldn’t be able to easily extract this definition from the term itself.
To a non-regular rider, a transit center could convey something entirely different. In fact, a planner from Ottawa I recently spoke to was confused by our use of the term and wasn’t fully aware that it simply means a place where a lot of transit connects. Canadians will use ‘transit loop’ or ‘exchange’ to describe exactly the same thing. The latter is a term I’m personally a fan of because it literally describes movement from one medium to another. Ask someone what they think of when they hear the word “exchange” and they’ll likely say something about the NYSE or a marketplace of sorts.
Let’s be clear here– transit riders aren’t commodities to be shipped from route to route, they’re people. But they’re also customers that can cognitively capitalize on the utility of our nomenclature. If a “transit exchange” can convey things “transit center” can’t, then that’s the better card to play.