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WMATA considering policies for shorter station names

Metro might take a harder line against sprawling station names like U Street/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo in the future, under a policy WMATA's Board will discuss on Thursday.


Photo by tracktwentynine on Flickr.

The problems with Metro's station name sprawl are not new. But with the Silver Line and "Yellow and Orange Line Service Increase" coming, Metro will have to redo maps and station signage anyway, opening the door to renaming more stations at the same time without much extra cost.

Fairfax has suggested some widely-panned names for its new stations, which repeat the same words multiple times and lack character. The NoMA BID is proposing renaming New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U to the shorter NoMA-Gallaudet U, while the Capitol Riverfront BID wants to add its neighborhood moniker to the Navy Yard station. There may be more proposals as well.

The WMATA Board has final approval over all of these changes. Should they accept the Fairfax names or push for something more distinctive? Should they allow the NoMA and Capitol Riverfront changes or just ones that shorten names? Should Metro go farther and actually push to change those station names which are egregiously long?

Metro is not proposing renaming any stations (yet). Instead, the staff are bringing a general policy before the Board. If the Board accepts the policy, then it would guide specific station decisions to come.

Brief station names are important for a variety of reasons, including ease of navigation in the system. Extremely long station names can also make communication difficult, especially to non-English speakers.

The current policy, which Metro has not entirely adhered to over the years, lays out the following conditions:

  • Proposed names come to the Board from the jurisdictions.
  • Names should identify the station by geographical features or centers of activity.
  • The names should be distinctive and evoke imagery in the mind of the patron.
  • Station names should be no longer than 19 characters (including spaces).
  • Transfer station names should be no longer than 13 characters.
  • The jurisdiction requesting the renaming must pay the cost.
New rules proposed by staff include:
  • Station renamings must also involve customer testing and feedback.
  • Sale of station naming rights to corporations would be prohibited.
While these changes are welcome, they won't mean very much if the jurisdictions and the Board don't abide by the policy. In the past, the Board has gone along with jurisdictional requests that didn't conform. Rejecting overly long or overly nondescript station names will require Board members to vote down a proposal by one of their colleagues for a station in that member's jurisdiction.

Alternatively, the Board could allow for additional parts of station names to be subtitles. Most people refer to U St/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo as simply "U Street." If DC weren't willing to completely shorten the name to that or its pre-1999 name of "U Street/Cardozo," then U Street could be the main name and the rest could become a subtitle. In fact, several of the entries in our map contest took this approach.

A stricter policy could include guidelines like these:

  • Station names may not exceed 19 characters in length.
  • Transfer station names may not exceed 13 characters in length.
  • When circumstances dictate, the Board may grant a subtitle name to a station beyond the character limit.
  • Station renamings should only occur when significant rider benefit would be gained from a renaming.
  • Station names should derive their names from a specific, unique geography or center of activity.
  • Station names should be distinctive and evoke imagery in the mind of the patron.
  • If a landmark is used in a name, it must be within ¼ mile of the station.
  • The number of geographies or centers of activity is limited to a maximum of 2.
  • Use of abbreviations should be permitted only for street types, e.g. "Ave."
  • Station name elements should be separated with a forward slash (not a dash).
  • Rider feedback should be required before a station renaming is approved.
  • The sale of station naming rights is not permitted.
Staff plan to talk with riders about the station naming policy before finalizing it, hopefully in July. Jurisdictions will then be able to propose name changes by September for the Board to approve in October.

Name changes can still happen in the future, but there's a substantial cost to replace maps and signs. Since Metro is already planning replace all of the maps and signs in 2012, this is one of the best opportunities in a long time to make name changes, including shortening names.

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Planning Department. His views are his own and do not represent the opinion of his employer. 
David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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I don't understand what's gained by changing the guidelines if the existing guidelines are being ignored anyway. Getting the rules enforced seems to be a much greater problem than improving the rules slightly.

by Keith Ivey on May 23, 2011 11:29 am • linkreport

Use of abbreviations should be permitted only for street types, e.g. "Ave."

I think you could add colleges/universities to the list of permitted abbreviations... otherwise you couldn't get the University of Maryland into the station name for College Park or GWU at Foggy Bottom.

Since college/university abbreviations are already a form of common speech—folks will use "GWU" or "Gee Dub" probably more often than "George Washington," and when's the last time you heard someone refer to the "University of the District of Columbia" rather than UDC?—I don't think that using abbreviations for universities would add to confusion. At the very least they could use the abbreviation "U," I think.

by James on May 23, 2011 12:02 pm • linkreport

- Get rid of all St/Ave/Blvd/Sq/Circle - It adds nothing: Dupont Circle.
- Get rid of all cardinal directions: Farragut Square North
- Get rid of double names: Franconia-Sprinfield
- Try to use neighborhood names, or nearby parks, avoid long streets and commercial names: Eisenhower Ave Carlyle, Tysons I&II Mall.
- No subtitles.
- No univeristies . If students can't figure out what their stop is, too bad.

What's up with the / vs -?

by Jasper on May 23, 2011 12:02 pm • linkreport

I like the subtitle approach. Everyone walks away happy.

I'd exempt BIDs from the restriction on selling station names. If a BID is willing to front the money to rename their station, and the new name meets the rest of the guidelines, they should be allowed to do it.

The Riverfront and NoMA are two neighborhoods that were essentially created out of nothing (former industrial areas), spurred by the presence of a Metro station. Now that they're established, it makes sense to rename their Metro stations accordingly.

Let's also add one other restriction: If a Metro station is named after a landmark, and the owners of that landmark decide to rename/remove/relocate it, those people are on the hook for updating Metro's signage. If they don't like those terms, they don't get a metro station named after them.

This could have prevented the DCA and SEU kerfuffles, and will curtail another one when RFK inevitably collapses out of boredom.

(Also, can we finally blast the remaining traces of SEU and the Union Station Visitor's Center out of the city? How hard could that possibly be?)

by andrew on May 23, 2011 12:15 pm • linkreport

@Jasper. I'd actually prefer "Dupont Circle" to "Dupont" because the latter is sort of a slang-y neighborhood name and stretches all the way up to New Hampshire and T. But I would agree with you about Rhode Island Ave. Brentwood. Also U St. All that other stuff

The reprint of the maps for the Silver Line, etc. might be a good opportunity to cull extraneous elements from metro station names.

by Steve S. on May 23, 2011 12:17 pm • linkreport

I smell a contest.

by Colleen on May 23, 2011 12:24 pm • linkreport

Hm. I don't really like any of Jasper's suggestions.

GWU needs to stay, because it completely dominates the neighborhood around Foggy Bottom Station, as does UDC. UMD College Park is a bit more difficult, because of the station's distance to the campus. On the other hand, it's nice for visitors to be able to see "UMD IS HERE" on the map. Maybe we could compromise with a subtitle, or "Bus to UMD" designation until the Purple Line is operational?

The satellite campuses in Virginia on the Orange Line need to be stricken from the station names. I'd be willing to hear arguments for keeping GMU's name attached to the Vienna station, but the rest need to go.

by andrew on May 23, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

If you got rid of cardinal directions and "Square" wouldn't you wind up with two stations named Farragut?

by dc denizen on May 23, 2011 12:54 pm • linkreport

I think most would agree that the biggest issue with Metro station names is character length. So, if we focus exclusively on the 19 character limit, there are 16 stations that violate the rule (see below). This is almost 19% of all stations! In contrast, only seven of London’s stations (2.5%) exceed 19 characters. (While sorting this out, I also calculated that Metro’s average station name length is 15.38 characters, while London’s is 12.38.)

I don’t think we would ever get agreement on all 86 station names, so let’s work on the most egregious offenders: the Swollen 16, as it were. I personally don’t agree with including universities or naming everything within a half mile radius – yes, I’m looking at you, U Street. And, despite having voted for Reagan twice, I detest National Airport being named anything other than “National Airport.” But, I wouldn’t try to change the world with the opportunity to influence station names. So, I would be willing to cram as many names, landmarks or universities as long as we can preserve the 19 character limit.

I don’t know enough about all areas to comment on all 16 stations, but here are some relatively easy ones:

Reagan Airport (14)
West Falls Church (17)
College Park/UMd (16)

THE SWOLLEN 16 (CHAR LENGTH)

U Street/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo 48
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport 41
Mt Vernon Sq 7th St-Convention Center 37
New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U 36
Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter 35
Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan 29
Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood 26
Addison Road-Seat Pleasant 26
West Falls Church-VT/UVA 24
Dunn Loring-Merrifield 22
Prince George's Plaza 21
Franconia-Springfield 21
Grosvenor-Strathmore 20
Georgia Ave-Petworth 20
Gallery Pl-Chinatown 20
College Park-U of MD 20

by rogerwilco on May 23, 2011 1:35 pm • linkreport

I think we could abbreviate things more. Examples:

- Medical Ctr
- Columbia Hts
- Farragut N
- Dupont Cir
- King St
- McPherson Sq
- Capitol S
- Braddock Rd
- Branch Ave
- E Falls Church

I think college should stay, for the most part. But for ones like Ballston-MU, Vienna/Fairfax-GMU and College Park-U of Md, it's a little ridiculous, since the colleges are so far from the stations. Also, SEU doesn't exist anymore, so buh bye.

by Tim on May 23, 2011 1:37 pm • linkreport

I like the subtitle proposal. Once WMATA conceded that it could be bullied into changing station names (remember the Reagan fight?) it lost its power to keep official names short. But WMATA _does_ control the map still, and they can & should use that power to relegate the nonsense parts of the station names to tiny type.

by tom veil on May 23, 2011 1:45 pm • linkreport

Lets just number each station starting with 1.

"Meet me at station #26."
"Where is that?"
"On the green line, between #14 and #35/African-Amer Civil War Memorial"

by David C on May 23, 2011 1:48 pm • linkreport

How many station names have been paid for? Strathmore bought their place onto "Grosvenor".

Do those who paid for the names get grandfathered in?

by EJ on May 23, 2011 1:51 pm • linkreport

I'm fine with Jasper's suggestions except for "no universities". It's not just students who use universities to orient themselves. Universities tend to provide much more context as landmarks than neighborhood names or names of nearby parks, especially when folks from out of town come for events or to visit their student progeny.

by Lucre on May 23, 2011 1:53 pm • linkreport

LOL at David C.

by Michael Perkins on May 23, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

Attempting to pack in lots of data into a station name seems to ask for trouble and confusion. I can't quite envision what the subtitles would look like printed, but it seems like a move in the right direction. It appears the goal in lengthening station names was to highlight certain landmarks and adjust to changing neighborhood identity. It leads to some real shoehorning, though, like the UMD and GMU tags on the end of College Park and Vienna, respectively, not to mention having two stations flagged with GMU! U Street gets the most obvious hate but I'd nominate Woodley for 'Most misleading', since it's near the Zoo and Adams Morgan in only the vaguest senses.

Station names themselves can be vague and inconsistent even without the bloat. Branch Avenue station isn't on Branch Avenue - it's a good 10-15m walk - but Naylor Road station is. New York Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue are also both arguably vague - there are stations near or on those streets elsewhere in the city. It seems these were "There's nothing really near here so let's name it after the street" names.

by Distantantennas on May 23, 2011 2:03 pm • linkreport

@ Steve S: "Dupont" ... is sort of a slang-y neighborhood name and stretches all the way up to New Hampshire and T.

And that's where the metro stops. For me, the shorter is the better.

@ andrew: GWU needs to stay, because it completely dominates the neighborhood around Foggy Bottom Station, as does UDC.

GWU is the stupidest of all of 'm, as the university likes to call itself GW, not GWU. Furthermore, those acronyms don't mean a lot to visitors. Foggy Bottom is fine. Much better than Washington Circle/GWU/State Department/Worldbank.

@dc denizen: If you got rid of cardinal directions and "Square" wouldn't you wind up with two stations named Farragut?

And let's hope that we would get one station there, with a real or virtual tunnel. The real problem is Fall Church, because I really can't come up with a better name for one of 'm. They even both next to very similarly named Fall Church (City) Parks. Anyway, none of these rules could be ironclad, just "U" for a metro stop is rather silly as well, but I think it would clean up the length of the names pretty well.

What I'm pretty much trying to do is boil the names down to their smallest possible divider.

@ rogerwilco:

U Street/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Mt Vernon Sq 7th St-Convention Center
New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U ? Dunno, that doesn't sound great either. But I don't know the neighborhood well enough to come up with an alternative.
Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter
Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan
Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood
Addison Road-Seat Pleasant Mills?
West Falls Church-VT/UVA
Dunn Loring-Merrifield. Dunno, pick one or the other.
Prince George's Plaza
Franconia-Springfield
Grosvenor-Strathmore Dunno, pick one or the other.
Georgia Ave-Petworth
Gallery Pl-Chinatown
College Park-U of MD

@ David Alpert: We should have a competition. Make a list of all stations, and everyone can throw in their suggestions. Then, we take a vote, possibly with a second round for the most popular ones if a station gets too many options. Send the final result to WMATA, and tell 'm this is how it's gonna be done.

by Jasper on May 23, 2011 2:36 pm • linkreport

DCA is misnamed anyway. Since you can fly to Canada, the Carribbean, and other destinations, it should be "Ronald Reagan Washington National International Airport".

I just like National Airport best.

by spookiness on May 23, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport

Reagan Airport (14)

Except that's not actually the name of the airport... NOBODY calls it "Reagan Airport."

They could also fix some of the addresses on the big maps. The NY Ave station is listed as being on M & Florida NE, which is flat-out wrong. I'm sure there are other errors there too...

by andrew on May 23, 2011 2:40 pm • linkreport

I like Grosvenor-Strathmore, just because it rolls off of the tongue really nicely when you read it aloud.

Naming the NY Ave station is a tricky one though. NoMA-Eckington would work, although Gallaudet is a very significant landmark, and certainly worthy of inclusion.

The revitalization of the Capital City Market and Uline arena could also add an additional noteworthy destination to the area. You'd also want to avoid any ambiguous naming that could conflict with the future downtown Blue or Yellow Lines, which could create another station in Northern Capitol Hill near Gallaudet, Trinidad, and/or the Starburst.

Removing Chinatown from Gallery Place would generate too much of a backlash to be feasible. Not gonna happen.

by andrew on May 23, 2011 2:47 pm • linkreport

@Jasper and @ dc denizen,
Hopefully when the Farragut stations are connected by a tunnel, "Farragut Square" could be justified. Otherwise, "North" and "West" are necessary.

I prefer the dash over the forward slash, although I generally dislike both.
Does anyone know why "New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U" has two dashes while "Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan" has a dash and a slash?

As for universities, keep Howard, UDC, Catholic, and GW because of their proximity to the stations. Satellite schools (Va Tech) and shuttles to schools (UMD, GMU) ought to be eliminated (I left AU out because despite the main campus being a while a way, the do have several buildings (and a smaller campus) in walking distance of the station).

Also, Southeastern University has been closed since 2009. "SEU" ought to be taken off the Waterfront station name.

More of my rant:
Cardozo is just a high school. No one has ever called the area around U Street that name. Van Ness is a street name, the neighborhood is actually Forest Hills.

The Naylor Road Station is located on Branch Avenue, while the Branch Avenue Station is located on Old Sopper Road.
Four stations are on Georgia Avenue, while just "Georgia Ave-Petworth" is named for it.
Same with Deanwood being on Minnesota Avenue, but not having the name while Minnesota Ave does.

by thedofc on May 23, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

It should be Ronald Wilson Reagan Washington National Airport. And all the other station names should be as short as possible. Congress wanted it that way.

by jim on May 23, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

"NOBODY calls it 'Reagan Airport.'"

I still call it "National", but I notice that people who moved here since the name change do call it "Reagan." (Hey MWAA, there could be a Reaganesque marketing slogan for frequent flyers: "There you go again!")

Speaking of station names, it's past time for Metro to automate their station announcements. Often station names are slurred, mispronounced or barely audible. With low light in underground stations, it's difficult to read the station name from inside the train. Many Metro riders are visitors, and clear, audible, recorded station announcements would be a big help to them and everyone else.

by Bob on May 23, 2011 3:00 pm • linkreport

@andrew: no one in DC calls it "Reagan Airport" but lots of people outside of DC do. I fly 100k miles a year and I would say that most travel industry (including non-DC airline) employees that I've encountered call it "Reagan National" or "Reagan Airport". So, tourists coming into town are much more likely to have heard it called one of those two rather than "National Airport".

I was trying to keep the word "Reagan" in there so as to not go through the Reagan vs. National debate, but "Reagan National Airport" didn't meet my 19 character limit. I would be OK with "Reagan National" with the airport icon.

@Jasper, as for the Falls Church stations, I know that the area around EFC station has been called EFC "forever". This says that the first EFC train station was built in 1850: http://www.aefcca.org/efc%20history2.pdf I'm not sure, but I don't think that WFC was called WFC until the Metro station. In a previous exercise on this website, someone suggested "Pimmit Hills" for WFC. ("Falls Church" shouldn't be mandatory in the station name, as WFC is not in Falls Church City.)

Good thing WFC isn't going to be part of the Silver Line, Fairfax County supervisors would have wanted to re-name it Tysons-South or Tysons-Pimmit Hills!! :)

by rogerwilco on May 23, 2011 3:20 pm • linkreport

Put me down for keeping university initials off of the station names unless the university is in the immediate proximity of the station. And only if it is the primary campus for the university, not an extension. Drop the -GMU from the Vienna and Virginia Sq station names. UMD at College Park might be the exception, but on the other hand, College Park is a pretty good clue that it is associated with a college.

@Jasper, you can make the names too short. Circles and streets do add to the name and provide information that it is a street. Dupont Circle tells people that, while Dupont might lead visitors to think it has something to do with the Dupont corporation or foundation.

As for National Airport, probably best to call it Reagan National Airport to keep the Republicans in Congress happy. Yes, it is longer than 19 characters, but I suspect the final result will breech that limit for some stations anyway. If the only change is get rid of the silly "U Street/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo", that will be an improvement.

by AlanF on May 23, 2011 3:23 pm • linkreport

@andrew: Outside the Chinatown BID and their delusions to try to preserve a miniature Chinatown that's been gentrified out, who would object to getting rid of Chinatown? I can't think of anyone.

by Jason on May 23, 2011 3:55 pm • linkreport

@Bob: Totally with you on the automated announcements. I was in NYC recently and the difference in clarity really struck me.

@AlanF: UMD is probably droppable since, having worked with people in Baltimore, it's common to refer to it as UMCP. And if you don't know that University of Maryland College Park is in College Park, then you're got bigger problems. Also, we could just shorten it to 'Reagan Airport' and come in under 19. Or 'FU ATC Airport'?

@Jason: It was originally just Gallery Place, after the two Smithsonian nearby. I'm not sure that's what people think of first when thinking of the area these days, though.

by Distantantennas on May 23, 2011 4:15 pm • linkreport

Re: "Reagan Airport." I thought that the GOP Congress renamed the airport and then heavily pushed Metro to change the name on its signs, under threat of budget cuts. Not really Metro's fault

by SJE on May 23, 2011 4:27 pm • linkreport

@ AlanF: @Jasper, you can make the names too short.

And the problem is? Shorter names means bigger font on maps, and better legibility.

Circles and streets do add to the name and provide information that it is a street.

As opposed to what? Are any metro stops expected to stop mid-river, or in a tunnel? Of course metro stops are on a street (/square/blvd). But that does not mean the stop has to explain that. There's also West Hyattsville. Is that a stop on a ville? Crystal City is no city.

by Jasper on May 23, 2011 4:49 pm • linkreport

I realize some feel that tourists should be considered in all of this, but I don't. The missus and I were in Munich in Dec and we got around just find by figuring out which stop we needed and then getting off there. The name of the station meant absolutely nothing to us, yet we got along fine. And those Germans have some long station names: Schwanthalerhohe? No clue.

by rdhd on May 23, 2011 4:51 pm • linkreport

"Speaking of station names, it's past time for Metro to automate their station announcements. Often station names are slurred, mispronounced or barely audible."

Or just plain wrong. Last week (or the week before) on my way home to Franconia-Springfield-Loisdale Road-Old Keane Mill-Kingstowne-Belvoir, just as we were leaving Van Dorn Street, the operator said "The last and final station (don't get me started with 'last and final')... Stadium-Armory."

But all-in-all, I like the personalization and feel of humans speaking instead of robots. Metro just needs to hire educated and literate individuals. That's all; no need to replace the audio with a robot. In fact, Metro can just give applicants a one question test. Pronounce "Judiciary Square".

On the topic of the airport, I find that I either say "Reagan" or "National", but never "Reagan Airport", "Reagan National", etc. But I do say "I'm flying out of Reagan", because it's two syllables and, in my opinion, flows better than National.

@Jasper, I disagree with a few of your station names. I think the station name should reflect the most used destinations, not just the neighborhood in which the station sits. Locals who live in Woodley Park don't need the sign; tourists going to the Zoo need the sign. Even though I despise them, I think the Metro signs need to reflect the most touristy location(s).

Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan
Gallery Pl-Chinatown
Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter

by Sam on May 23, 2011 4:58 pm • linkreport

@Sam: But that's why Woodley is so misleading. Adams Morgan is more or less equidistant with U Street, and if you're going to the Zoo you'd much rather go to Cleveland Park and then walk downhill to the Zoo than go to Woodley and walk uphill. So why isn't it Cleveland Park-Zoo or U Street-Adams Morgan? Or should I not give them ideas? This fuzziness is why I really think the landmarks should be decoupled from the names.

Side rant: The consistency of the naming drives me nuts. Hyphens and slashes with no logic, and maddeningly inconsistent abbreviations. If it's College Park/U of MD why isn't it West Falls Church-VT/U of VA? And then there's the pointless signifiers that others have brought up. West Hyattaville when there's not Hyattsville, Capitol South with no Capitol North (or is that Union Station?), or Federal Center SW when there's no other Federal Center?

by Distantantennas on May 23, 2011 5:44 pm • linkreport

@Sam
Tourists going to the zoo ought to go to Cleveland Park instead of Woodley Park. It's the same distance, but a downhill walk, compared to the steep wone from WP-Z/AM.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/misc-locations/woodley-park-zoo-metro-station,795788.html

Also, Metro should remove "Adams Morgan" from the name and "Zoo." Add "Zoo" to Cleveland Park.

by thedofc on May 23, 2011 5:54 pm • linkreport

jason@3:55
There is no Chinatown BID.
Chinatown falls within the boundaries of the Downtown BID.

by spookiness on May 23, 2011 6:57 pm • linkreport

UMD can come off College Park Metro because UMD will have its own dedicated stop on the Purple Line.

by BeyondDC on May 23, 2011 7:05 pm • linkreport

@thedofc, Distantantennas

Either way, you're going to walk up hill and down hill. I'd rather do it when I have more energy on the way to the zoo rather than in the afternoon after I spent 5 hours at the zoo.

by Sam on May 23, 2011 7:10 pm • linkreport

Simplify. Life is complicated. Time to simplify.

* U Street
* Penn Quarter

by David on May 23, 2011 8:01 pm • linkreport

Regarding David C's suggestion:
I know it was in jest but it reminded me of how highway exits are labeled. For example, I-66W 57B indicates the 2nd (B) exit on westbound I-66 that's 57 miles from a point of origin.
For Metro we could use this scheme if we define Metro Center as the origin for the Red, Blue, and Orange lines and Gallery Place as the origin for the Green and Yellow lines. As an example, McPherson Square becomes OB-01W (Orange/Blue, 1 mile, west).

We reserve the first 7 characters for the exit plus a blank space, then the remaining 12 characters for a name. For areas outside the downtown core, simply use the nearest neighborhood or town name. Universities and other institutions are poor choices since they don't have permanence (see SEU...). Furthermore this town is full of memorials; putting their name on a metro station won't encourage more people to visit.

Finally, regarding:
"Fairfax has suggested some widely-panned names for its new stations, which repeat the same words multiple times and lack character."
I say we keep these as they are because they're an apt description of the area they serve...

by smoke_jaguar4 on May 23, 2011 8:01 pm • linkreport

@ rdgd: Schwanthalerhohe? No clue.

Swan Valley Heights?

German, like Dutch, compounds composite words to one word. It's not a driver's license, but a driverslicense. Especially governments have a hand of creating beautifully long words. Incometaxforminstructions. Busdriverslicense-applicationform (with a silly "-" because the vowel combination e-a does not exist, and needs clarification). Americans tend to grab to acronyms for such notions. They are not necessarily more clear.

by Jasper on May 23, 2011 8:50 pm • linkreport

thedofc said a long time ago: "Cardozo is just a high school. No one has ever called the area around U Street that name."

People don't use the term much anymore, but once upon a time (like, maybe 10 years or so ago), what we now call the U Street neighborhood was called "Cardozo/Shaw."

I'm not mourning. Neighborhoods change. Neighborhood names change. Metro station names influence that change. Which is why Capitol Riverfront and NoMA make sense as station names. And why Tysons North-Northwest and Tysons I-II-III-what-are-we-fighting-IV or whatever it is don't.

by Matt W on May 23, 2011 9:40 pm • linkreport

Since you can fly to Canada, the Carribbean, and other destinations, it should be "Ronald Reagan Washington National International Airport".

True, but I think what makes an airport international is the prescence of a customs port of call.

re: automated announcements. I asked Metro about this once at a public meeting. They said the purpose was to keep drivers engaged in the process. Without them drivers would become bored and not pay attention to their job. So they said.

Numbers. In Seoul, the stations actually did have numbers along with the names. Stations on one line would be 101, 102 etc.. and on another 201, 202 etc.. I really liked it because I didn't have to look at the map to know how many stations away I was.

by David C on May 23, 2011 9:52 pm • linkreport

You do realize that Gallery Place (ie. the Nat'l Portrait Gallery) is a major tourist destination too?

by andrew on May 23, 2011 10:56 pm • linkreport

agreeing with david c. The use of numbers (perhaps as a supplement to names) makes the transit lines incredibly easy to follow, allows you to determine at a glance which side of the track you want to be on (numbers going higher or lower), and are easier for folks who don't speak english well (or at all) to follow.

by I'm a name, not a number on May 23, 2011 11:40 pm • linkreport

Sam,

You can get off at Cleveland Park, see the zoo, and get back on at Woodley Park--downhill both ways!

Or, even better, get off at Columbia Heights, walk through the zoo without the need to double back, and get on at Woodley.

by sb on May 23, 2011 11:46 pm • linkreport

1 The names should come from the neighborhood the station is located in

2 If there is no neighborhood pick the closest street

3 Whatever a station is name after must be less than 5 blocks from the station

4 If a station is named after a town or city it has to be the only station in that town or city.

5 We should not add anything to the names it should be an incentive for locals and non locals to learn their way around. We do not need to be dumbing things for someone who could not do previous research about where they are going.

Names that need to go

Almost everything on Green Line especially south and east of Waterfront

Stadium Armory = A Street, Bay Street, Burke Street or C Street

New York Ave = 2nd Street, M Street or N Street

Rhode Island Ave = name it whatever street name the new development will have or Reed Street

West Hyattsville = Avondale, Kirkwood, Queens Chapel, Queenstown, or Castle Manor (seriously WTF how did this station get the name Hyattsville )

PG Plaza = Hyattsville

Georgia Ave/Petworth = Petworth

Shaw-Howard = Shaw

Addison Road = Seat Pleasant

Benning Rd = Marshall Hgts, Glendale, Capitol View or 46th Street

Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan = Woodley Park

Van Ness = Forest Hills

Largo Town Center = Largo

Morgan Blouevard = Morgan Blvd or Summerfield

Anacostia = Barry Farms or Howard Rd

Southern Ave = Oxon Run or Shipley Terr

Mt Vernon-7th St Convention Center = Mt Vernon

Archives-Navy Memoral-Penn Quarter = Archives

If these names ever can get changed

Union Station = North Capitol
Capitol South = South Capitol
New Carrolton = Laham (this would be hard due to the Amtrak station)

by kk on May 24, 2011 1:28 am • linkreport

@kk

I like a lot of those, but Stadium-Armory is perfect. 14 characters, decribes perfectly where it is. Trust me, I live a block away. I also don't know how you could possibly change Union Station. Too iconic.

by Brandon on May 24, 2011 9:02 am • linkreport

I am a purest when it come to metrorail station naming, there would be a few exceptions though. I prefer the names as the appeared on the revised 1970 Area Regional System map. I despise abbreviation and acronyms.

My criteria:
No slashes or hyphens.
Station names not to exceed two words

Exception:
East Falls Church
West Falls Church
Mount Vernon Square
Prince George's Plaza
Georgia Avenue Petworth
Springfield Franconia
Van Dorn Street
Federal Center Southwest
Rhode Island Avenue
Woodley Park - Zoo
Pike Seven Plaza
Spring Hill Road
Washington Dulles International Airport

Largo Town Center would be truncated to Largo
Brookland-CUA would be truncated to Brookland
Foggy Bottom-GWU would be truncated to Foggy Bottom

by Sand Box John on May 24, 2011 9:25 am • linkreport

FYI, West Falls Church was originally slated to be called "Route 7."

by andrew on May 24, 2011 9:47 am • linkreport

Agree with distantantennas: The Woodley Park-Zoo stop is NOT the real Zoo stop. Cleveland Park is slightly closer and the walk is flat to downhill. Time to end the lie we tell visitors by the thousands daily.

by rightsman on May 24, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

re: Andrew

"You do realize that Gallery Place (ie. the Nat'l Portrait Gallery) is a major tourist destination too? "

Yes...and you can say "It's in Chinatown" and people will go "Oh, then I need to go to the Chinatown stop". Naming stops for things that may (although won't likely) move isn't wise. What are we supposed to do in 10 or so years if the Convention Center moves again?

by Michael on May 24, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

@ Michael: "It's in Chinatown",

Except that there is no such thing as Chinatown. There is a Chinablock with an arch that's almost larger than the town/block.

by Jasper on May 24, 2011 11:30 am • linkreport

The patheticness of China"town" aside, it's still called that.

by Michael on May 24, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

The "Woodley Park" station is near Woodley Road. The station should just be called "Woodley".

by goldfish on May 24, 2011 12:34 pm • linkreport

Huh? Woodley Park is the neighborhood name.

Likewise, Van Ness is not really in Forest Hills, in terms of building types, urban form, and resident activity.

by Neil Flanagan on May 24, 2011 12:51 pm • linkreport

Please, no College Park/UMd. The College Park station is not on the UMd campus. It is within walking distance, in the sense that anything is in walking distance if you walk long enough, but when you exit a metro station and have to walk a half hour to get to your destination, you are not really at your destintion. If you exit the College Park station and you plan on walking, you are at least a half hour from the UMd campus.

And National Airport should never be Ronald Reagan National Airport or Reagan National Airport and definitely not Reagan Airport.

by cris on May 24, 2011 4:12 pm • linkreport

"Gallery Place-Chinatown" need to be replaced simply with "MLK Library" -- !!!

http://thewashingtonsyndicate.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/is-wmata-going-to-re-name-gallery-placechinatown-gallery-placechinatownmlk-library-they-need-to/

by John Muller on May 24, 2011 5:57 pm • linkreport

The subtitle idea is best. It covers university names, purchased names, and you can cram more in, since they'd be smaller font on a station map (although it's probably best not to include the subtitles on the standard station map). Neighborhoods should always be first, landmarks second.

National Mall (Smithsonian)
Capitol Riverfront (Nationals Park)
U Street (Cardozo)
Florida Avenue (Gallaudet University)
Penn Quarter (National Archives)
Cleveland Park (National Zoo)
Brentwood (Rhode Island Avenue)
Merrifield (Dunn Loring)
Grosvenor (Strathmore)
Chinatown (Gallery Place)
College Park (University of Maryland)
Farragut (North Entrance)
Farragut (West Entrance)

We probably shouldn't have any stations named after memorials, since there are few good reasons to include them in one station name but not another. And the airports should probably be Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport - yes, they're longer, but wouldn't have subtitles, and are among the more important stations for visitors.

by jakeod on May 24, 2011 8:42 pm • linkreport

My ideas:

Addison Road OR Seat Pleasant
Archives OR Penn Quarter
Ballston
Dunn Loring OR Merrifield
Federal Center
Franconia OR Springfield
Gallery Place OR Chinatown
Petworth
Grosvenor OR Strathmore
Largo
Mt Vernon Square
NoMa - Gallaudet
Turn Prince George's Plaza into Hyattsville
Turn RI Avenue into Brentwood
Turn Ronald Reagan blah blah into National Airport
U Street
Vienna - GMU
Virginia Square
Waterfront
Turn West Hyattsville into something like Chillum or Queens Chapel
Woodley Park / Zoo

I think it's important to have the universities and things like the Zoo.

by Martin on May 24, 2011 8:49 pm • linkreport

As a 32 year Metro employee that goes back to 1975, and remembering the stories of how Cody Phansteel(sp) and Metro's first General Manager, Jackson Graham sat down and made up most of the names to be short and descriptive, its like a return to the future moment. One thing thats always bothered me is why do the colleges and university's get to tag their name on to stations? The only stations that are truly at or on a campus is Foggy Bottom-GWU and Van Ness-UDC. American, Howard, Marymount, and George Mason, shouldn't be a part of any stations names in my view. Even Waterfront station had Southeastern University attached to it before it closed.

by Christopher on May 24, 2011 10:13 pm • linkreport

@ Christopher

Good point about the universities however it needs to go further than universities. I should be able to exit a station and see the building the station is named after or the building should be within 2 blocks in any direction beyond that it is deceptive.

We do not need to be adding every single monument or attraction to the names of station. Nor should the name of anything that could change be added to a station.

If someone is to stupid to use Google, Yahoo, Bing, Mapquest, WMATA site, destination site, paper map, asking someone etc to figure out how to get somewhere its their problem.

by kk on May 25, 2011 1:44 pm • linkreport

Please change the Woodley Park metro to just "Woodley Park." The Cleveland Park metro is actually closer to the zoo, and it's a downhill walk. There's no reason for such a ridiculously long name, especially when everyone just calls it Woodley Park anyway.

by anon on May 26, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

Sale of station naming rights to corporations would be prohibited

Hopefully, this would be written to also prevent BIDs like NoMa from astroturfing their nonsense names on revitalized neighborhoods.

by tom veil on May 30, 2011 9:54 pm • linkreport

@cris

way late on this reply but College Park/UMd is only a 10-15 min walk from campus. pretty easy walk unless you take the long way around

by Kenny on Jun 3, 2011 11:31 am • linkreport

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