What’s in a name? Labelling the Primary Transit Network

The Tube.

The name evokes a clear memory for anyone who has visited London. For many, it may be the characteristic logo of the London underground transit network- the red circle with a horizontal blue line with the “Underground” name on it. Or perhaps it is the “mind the gap” announcement that has become the unofficial slogan for the system.  For others it may be a particular station they use often, or a particular line. Numerous sights, sounds and (unfortunately) smells come to mind when one thinks of the tube. But when someone mentions the Tube, it is clear they are talking about London’s underground transit system.

A good name can be a useful identifier for a rapid transit system. The name can identify and distinguish a rapid part of a transit system from the rest of the network. When someone mentions the Tube, it is clear they are not talking about a local bus that stops every few blocks.

Some systems are simply named by the way transit moves through the city- the subway in New York, the El (elevated rail) in Chicago, the Skytrain in Vancouver. These names refer to more than just the undergound over elevated segments, but the entire system. The subway in New York operates above ground in some places, the El goes below ground, as does the Skytrain, yet all are still referred to as such.

Most systems are just simply named the Metro (usually for something approximating “metropolitan transit system”), such as Barcelona or Paris. Others have their own name, such as the Transmilenio in Bogota, Columbia or the Go Train for the commuter train in Toronto.

Others use acronyms that become names. In the San Francisco Bay area, the rapid transit system is called the Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART. In Dallas it is the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit).  Curitiba’s bus rapid system is called the RIT, or Rede Integrada de Transporte (Integrated Transportation Network). In Atlanta the rapid transit system is called MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). Other acronyms just stay the way they are, such as the TTC in Toronto, or are partial acronyms, the S-Bahn (Stadtbahn, or City Train) in Berlin.

At Transitcamp, we believe the future success of Calgary Transit depends on creating a network of rapid transit lines in Calgary, using both rail and rapid buses (the current LRT system included). Creating this network will involve numerous choices regarding the routes, where stations are located, what types of vehicles to use, and even, as we discussed in last weeks post, what colour the vehicles should be. One of this choices is simply what to call the system.

So what should Calgary’s rapid transit system be named? The C-Train is a great label for the light rail system, but it can’t refer to a network of rapid bus routes. So we think we need a new name. Something that Calgarians will use to refer to the rapid network of buses and trains that can get them where they need to go quickly.

So we ask you, our readers, what do you think our rapid transit system should be named?

If you have a suggestion, please write it in the comments. Don’t be afraid to be creative with the names. Maybe you think an acronym would be useful. Or perhaps a name unique to Calgary. Perhaps, there is a name from another city you think might work. Offer whatever suggestions you like. Next week, we will put all suggestions into a poll and we will see which one is the most popular. And hey, maybe Calgary Transit will choose one of the names for the network.


10 thoughts on “What’s in a name? Labelling the Primary Transit Network

  1. I’ll be the first to suggest a name: The Rapid Transit Network, or RAPID for short.

    I am sure our readers can come up with some better names. 🙂

  2. CART? Calgary Area Rapid Transit – could allow for smooth transition to regional transit service whenever that happens.

  3. Cal-Tran?

    (I like CART — ‘take the CART’, ‘I grabbed the CART to work’, ‘dude fell off the CART’, etc…)

    Don’t call it RAPID — that’s inviting scorn and mockery for the instances where it fails to be, in fact, rapid.

    My favorite name for the local transit network was Boston’s. You didn’t take the subway, you took the T (short for MBTA, but it took me at least a month to get over my confusion!). Which is an example of the name arising organically, rather than planned or focus-grouped.

  4. As I mentioned in the comments to the previous post, I like simple solutions such as using the word Express. You can work this into names such as simply appending it so that you would have the Calgary Transit (CT) and Calgary Transit Express (CTE) networks. Or something like that. The nicknames (taking the E?) don’t need to be forced.

    That said, I do like the suggestion of CART for a regional system (with the R standing for “regional” rather than “rapid”).

    • Right after I finished typing this, the thought of a super-cheesy “Connect to Express” campaign just popped up in my head. Gah!

  5. I can think of about 30 bad ideas. The Whoosh. The Portal. Fleet. The Flow. The Breeze. The Connect, as horrible as that is (or C-onnect). The Weave… The Network, or C-net. Applying ‘C’ to the name would sort of fit with Calgary and (ugh) cowboy…. The Line. Or combine the two and get ‘C-Line’.

    So far, I have a list with which you all can vote on what is the worst.

    I think i like the Current, or the Flow. Something with energy and connectedness.

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