One of Jarrett Walker’s readers objects to the term “mass transit”:
When I hear the word “mass” the first phrase that comes to mind is “mass marketing”. Other, worse examples: mass demonstrations, mass murder, mass destruction! In each case, the connotation of the word is of something that is indiscriminate. Something big in which the individual is lost and meaningless.
It doesn’t help that “mass” also reminds me of the “masses”, Karl Marx’s vaguely derogatory term for the proletariat who should silently accept the uniformity imposed by a communist state. [JW: I disagree with this reading of Marx, but it doesn't affect the reader's point.] The implications of that are even more unfortunate for transit.
Walker’s blog, it should be noted, is titled Human Transit.
Me, I’m thinking we could just call it “transit”; pretty much everyone already, I suspect, thinks of the term as meaning Something Other Than Cars. Subgroups already have their descriptors: rail transit, bus rapid transit, and so forth. However, I’m open to suggestion.