Nori-ba is a native Japanese word, from noru 'ride on, get on (transportation)' and -ba 'place'. It refers to a place where transportation is accessed, whether a bus stop, a taxi stand/cab rank, or a station platform.
Nori-ba should be written either as or as -- conventions leave the choice up to the user. The sign below uses :
However, it is much more common in public places to find nori-ba written in hiragana as . Indeed, railway stations and taxi ranks appear to have standardised on hiragana for writing nori-ba.
The rationale for using hiragana is probably a desire to simplify signs in public places so as to reduce clutter and increase legibility. The hiragana form nori-ba is simple to read and identify both for children and for adults. On the other hand, nori-ba is more complex, taking up space and increasing visual clutter.
A Google search revealed the following pattern for nori-ba on the Internet in August 2003. For comparison, results for the similar construction uri-ba (sales counter) are shown alongside:
What is most striking about this comparison is the fact that noriba in hiragana is far more widely current than uriba is. On the other hand, all-kanji uriba is much more common, relatively speaking, than all-kanji noriba. Could the widespread use of noriba at taxi ranks, railway stations, etc., have tipped the scales towards the widespread use of the hiragana form for this word?