Stop names

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Some of this content is based on the Metropolitain Transportation Commission's File:511 Proposed Transit Stop Naming Convention V1.0.pdf.


Transit agencies maintain comprehensive stop inventory – primarily to meet internal operational needs. Stop names are also a critical part of passenger-facing transit information. Transit stops names support identifiability of stop locations. Agencies take a variety of approaches to naming stops. This article is a digest of some of those practices, along with recommendations for choosing stop names.

Goals for customer-facing stop names

  1. Consistency across all media: website, real-time systems, trip planners, passenger guides, customer service
  2. Identifiability of locations


General rules

  1. Stop names distributed for public consumption should reflect how the public would recognize stops on the ground. If necessary, a separate operational name may be maintained in the inventory. For example, ‘Green Division Yard’ for Muni’s ‘Balboa Park Station’ should be maintained in a non-public field.
  2. All stop names should be maintained in one standardized case, preferably the Title Case, where principal words are capitalized, e.g. Market Street
  3. Route direction information should not be included in stop names. For example, ‘Westbound’ in parenthesis in ‘Alida Way & Rotary Plaza (Westbound)’ should not be used. Direction information should be provided elsewhere in the presentation of transit information.
  4. Rules regarding punctuation (i.e. whether to punctuate for abbreviations) should be followed consistently on all names and media
  5. Use universal location names (e.g. intersections) instead of landmarks, unless the landmark is very permanent and well-known (e.g. city hall, parks, schools, transit centers). Avoid using names of local businesses that may close or not be well-known.

Roadway Naming

  1. Name portion of a full street name should not be abbreviated. However, if the street is popularly known by its abbreviated version, e.g., ‘MLK’ for ‘Martin Luther King’, then abbreviated version may be used as the primary stop name. In that case the full street name should be provided in the alias file.
  2. Street suffix/type (ave, st, pkwy, etc.), and pre and post directional (N, E, NW, etc.) elements of street name should either be fully spelled out or be abbreviated as per the standards set in Appendices B and C of the USPS publication (Appendices B and C of this publication is attached separately).USPS standard abbreviation is preferred. USPS standard suggests use of single standard abbreviation for each suffix and directional. For example, USPS suggested standard abbreviation for ‘Avenue’/’Ave’/’Av’ is ‘Ave’.
  3. Freeways and highways used in stop names should be named with their abbreviated (USPS standardized abbreviation) designation followed by the highway number. For example, ‘I 280’ or ‘Hwy 280.’ Highway names should never start with the highway number (e.g., ‘280 Hwy’) because this might be confused as an address

Intersection Stop Names

  1. In case of intersection location, stop name should include ‘On Street’ first, then an associative term, such as “at”, then ‘At Street’.
  2. For intersection stop names, acceptable associative terms/symbols between the on street and at street are ‘@’, or ‘&’. A single associative term should be used consistently throughout the entire stop inventory of the same transit agency. Do not use ‘and’ as an associative term. It is reserved for other usage (see below).
  3. Associative terms/symbols should ONLY be used for the purpose of separating street names in an intersection stop name. When associative term/symbol is necessary to describe something other than an intersection, an alternative style or the word ‘and’ should be used. For example, in the incorrect stop names such as ‘Main Street & Park & Ride’ or ‘Hilltop Park & Ride’, styles such as ‘Main Street & Park N Ride’ or ‘Hilltop Park and Ride’ can be used, instead.

Addressed Stop Name

  1. Stop names with numbered address should always begin with the address number. A stop at 123 Main St should be named as ‘123 Main St’, not as ‘Main St at 123.’ Stop names other than the numbered address should NEVER start with a number. If there is a street name that begins with a number (e.g., 5 St) the number should be replaced with the corresponding word (e.g., Fifth St).
  2. The stops that are not at an intersection but identified using a well known entity/business should be named using the numbered address with hyphenated name of the known entity. For example, ‘Fitzgerald Ave at Sizzler’ should be renamed to ‘3483 Fitzgerald Ave-Sizzler’. This allows user to approximately locate the stop on a digital map and at the same time know that it is near the Sizzler restaurant.
  3. Stop names like ‘Gurdwara Cul-de-sac’ should be avoided. It does not provide a good sense of the location.

Stops at Landmarks

  1. Stop names at landmarks/known places should be fully qualified. For example, ‘San Carlos Caltrain Station’ is preferred over ‘San Carlos Caltrain’ or ‘San Carlos Station.’
  2. When a stop is located within a larger known place/area the stop name should start with the larger place/area name followed by a hyphenated more specific location name. For example, ‘University of California Berkeley-Business School’, ‘College of San Mateo-CSM Dr’, ‘Southland Mall-Macy’s, ‘Millbrae Bart-Bay 5’, or ‘South San Francisco Bart-Bay 7 Eastside.’

Extra Qualifiers in Stop Names

  1. Extra qualifying information in a stop name such as ‘overpass’ in ‘Ralston Ave & Hwy 101 overpass’ should be hyphenated as ‘Ralston Ave & Hwy 101-Overpass.’ Another example is ‘El Camino Real & Alta Loma-Stairway’ or ‘Hwy 1 & Hwy 35-Bus Pad.’

Shared stops

  1. If transit agencies share a physical stop location, the stop name should be the same in stop inventories of all agencies sharing the stop. This will help regional information dissemination.