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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Why getting names right helps public transport legibility

There was a time when Milsons Point Luna Park wharf was just called Milsons Point. It was changed about two years ago to the longer four word version, perhaps to help customers who don't know where the iconic amusement park is located.

But the change had another impact. 

There is also a Milsons Point train station, which is about five minutes walk from the ferry wharf.  A passenger catching the F4 line from Balmain East or Pyrmont Bay can change at Milsons Point to catch a train on the North Shore line. Where such transfers are possible, all modes should use the same stop name. This is because it highlights to the irregular user that a transfer is possible.

So "Milsons Point Luna Park" wharf should still be called plain "Milsons Point".

The other side of the coin is Sydney Olympic Park wharf, which is 2.8 km  from Sydney Olympic Park train station, as the crow flies - hardly a convenient walk. The wharf is actually located in the suburb of Wentworth Point and is nowhere near either the sport stadium or another transport terminal named Sydney Olympic Park.

To avoid confusion, Sydney Olympic Park wharf should be called Wentworth Point.

These issues may seem trivial for the regular user of a network who has become accustomed to its many idiosyncracies, but it can be baffling to a visitor or  infrequent user if consistent naming conventions are not followed. As highlighted by Terzis and Last (2000) in the Urban Interchange Good Practice Guide, the badging of an interchange is one of many factors which contribute to customer awareness and use of transfer opportunities.   

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