[PW] Name for the sign board on a public transit bus?

Franco, Adrienne AFranco at iona.edu
Mon Nov 30 14:42:18 PST 2015

Roll Sign, or Rollsign, or possibly bus roll sign(s), bus scroll(s), transit scroll(s), destination bus roll(s)

[note: if you do a define search in google, using this term retrieves appropriate results:

e.g. define:roll sign       define:rollsign]

Note: could not find McCattern and variations.



A rollsign on the MBTA Red Line in Boston. This sign has a hand crank to change the destinations displayed, but many rollsigns are motorized.

For many decades, the most common type of multiple-option destination sign was the rollsign (or bus blind, curtain sign, destination blind, or tram scroll): a roll of flexible material with pre-printed route number/letter and destinations (or route name), which is turned by the vehicle operator at the end of the route when reversing direction, either by a hand crank or by holding a switch if the sign mechanism is motorized. These Rollsigns were usually made of linen until Mylar (a type of PET film) became the most common material used for them, in the 1960s/70s. They can also be made of other material, such as Tyvek."


" WardMaps is the official merchandise developer for Boston's MBTA. The store features hundreds of MBTA gifts all in one place. As well, the store is stocked with authentic vintage transit roll signs, maps, antique subway station signs and other rare pieces of transit history."


"A rollsign, roll sign, bus blind, or destination blind is a mechanical display used to indicate the destination. They are commonly seen in older city buses, streetcars and subway cars. As a part of the contract, they are standard on London bus routes. Modern equipment substitutes a digital display in place of a rollsign, but the long life of these vehicles ensures that many systems continue to use these devices."

Adrienne Franco

Iona College

New Rochelle, NY

-----Original Message-----
From: Project-wombat [mailto:project-wombat-bounces at lists.project-wombat.org] On Behalf Of Doug Anderson
Sent: Monday, November 30, 2015 3:12 PM
To: Project Wombat <list at project-wombat.org>
Subject: [PW] Name for the sign board on a public transit bus?

Our patron seems to recall a specific name for the sign board on a public transit bus that shows the bus route or destination.

The name he remembers sounds something like "McCattern" (rhymes with "pattern", with the stress on the middle syllable) or "MacCaddern" or similar.

I've found various sources that call it a "route sign", "sign board", "headsign", "destination indicator", etc., but nothing that isn't transparently a compound noun or noun phrase.

He was very certain that he had known this term since he was a child in the 1960s. He's from Ashtabula.

We found no results, using various conceivably plausible spellings, in any of the dictionaries to which we have access, including the OED and the Dictionary of American Regional English.

Google fails us. So do searches of visual dictionaries, reverse dictionaries, various public-transit-driver training web sites, and phone calls to the local public transit system (who calls it "the sign").

Any pointers? Any suggestions for where else to turn? Anybody recognize what a McCattern might be?

Thanks in advance --

Doug A.


NOTE: Our oplin.org email has been discontinued. Please update your contacts with this new email address: andersdo at acdl.info<mailto:andersdo at acdl.info> ============================= Douglas Anderson, Reference Coordinator Ashtabula County District Library

335 W. 44th St.

Ashtabula, OH 44004



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