Transit communication needs to be consistent

Back in 2013 the City of Hamilton changed the way routes were listed, both in print and on board buses. It was said that the reason for these changes was to streamline route messaging, especially in light of the new information screens at the MacNab Transit Terminal.

Included as part of this change was a drastic change in the way routes were displayed on buses. Branch numbers were removed from the route identifier, relegated to the destination line. This was perhaps most impactful for route 5 DELAWARE, which has five branches and seven end-of-lines.

Several of the five branches had unique, and often confusing branch names. The 5C branch for example was often referred to as 5C DELAWARE, but was also listed as 5C WEST HAMILTON on some old rollsigns and transit maps. Even more bizarre is the branch of route 5 which travels into Dundas.

The 52 branch of the DELAWARE (spoken five two) was known 52 DUNDAS. A now defunct branch was also known uniquely as the 5B MAIN WEST.

The streamlining was supposed to make things easier to understand. They’ve only made things more confusing.

The latest detour notice from the city for Friday’s Buskerfest in Dundas throws the new route name rules right out the window, not only referring to the route the old way, but also calls the route by two different names in the same notice.

The notice refers to the 5 DELAWARE as both “Route 52 – Dundas” and “Route 52 – MAIN WEST / DUNDAS” in the same notice. The issue herein lies that neither is a real route name. If you were new to transit in Hamilton this would be confusing, moreso than the 5 DELAWARE is already.


The route timetables refers to the route as 5 DELAWARE. City run Bus Web and Bus Check call it by this name. Third party transit planning applications which use city provided data (i.e. TransitApp, Google Maps, Triplinx) call the route 5 DELAWARE. This inconsistency is confusing at best.

Also note that the 52 branch is a westbound only branch, so the detour listing should note that the eastbound detour affects the 5 and 5E branches and not the 52.

For the record I was against the streamlining of route names for the single reason that changing the way they are displayed on buses makes them harder to understand. But I have adapted. For I maintain a uniform, consistent naming format for all routes.

Just as much as we need consistency in transit scheduling and on time adherence, we also need to be consistent in the way we communicate information.