Greater Greater Washington

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And the new station names are...

This morning, WMATA's Customer Service and Operations Committee voted on a set of revised station names for several stops. The full WMATA Board voted to approve the recommendations this afternoon.


Photo by tracktwentynine on Flickr.

With the service changes to the Blue, Yellow, and Orange lines coming next year, signs have to be replaced anyway. Metro hopes to save time and money by renaming stations at once instead of making changes individually.

Additionally, Metro is moving to a new primary/secondary station naming system. This idea was one that came out of the Metro map contest we held earlier this year. Only station names longer than the 19-character policy maximum will get subtitles, minus a few grandfathered entries (see below).

The committee recommended the following station name changes:

  • King St-Old Town
  • Navy Yard-Ballpark
  • NoMa-Gallaudet UNew York Ave
  • Waterfront (deleting the now-closed "SEU" from the name)
The NoMa-Gallaudet U station will retain New York Ave as a subtitle for one year. This will help to avoid the confusion that could be caused by completely removing what has been the primary name of the station since it opened in 2004.

For now, several stations are keeping their current names:

  • Forest Glen (no Holy Cross Hospital, but with an H logo denoting a hospital)
  • Franconia-Springfield (exempt from character limit)
  • Georgia Ave-Petworth (exempt from character limit)
  • Grosvenor-Strathmore (exempt from character limit)
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (no change)
  • Smithsonian (no National Mall)
The other stations that exceed Metro's 19-character limit will be getting subtitles for parts of their names.

Many members of the Gallaudet community spoke at the public comment session in favor of keeping their university in the primary name. Several others spoke for Holy Cross and the Mall.

David Alpert testified in favor of shorter names and using subtitles for all universities and other points of interest. He also noted that while Holy Cross offficials and neighbors said putting the hospital's name on the station would encourage more patients to take transit, the hospital's own directions webpage doesn't mention Metro.

Additional changes include adding the universal "H" logo to the system map to show hospitals near Foggy Bottom, Forest Glen, and Medical Center.

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. Hes 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. 

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Fine. That's pretty much what I thought they were going to do.

But am I the only one who hates including the H logo? Three of the area's most prominent hospitals (Washington Hospital Center, Children's, Georgetown) aren't even Metro-accessible. The logos are just more map clutter.

by Adam L on Nov 3, 2011 1:54 pm • linkreport

Thanks, David, for mentioning to the customer service committee this morning how the Holy Cross Hospital's website does not acknowledge Metro at all. Not one bit. I looked that up when it was first proposed and was shocked to find not a single reference to Metro on the hospital's website.

If Metro's so important to the hospital, why doesn't their website reflect it.

I'm actually disappointed in Kathy Porter for so strongly advocating for this break of the recently adopted policy. I'm sure she was "under orders" but in my mind she's lost a bit of credibility.

by MDE on Nov 3, 2011 1:55 pm • linkreport

Gah! That Airport stop is going to stick out like a sore thumb. Why couldn't they "subtitle" the "Ronald Reagan Washington" above a bolded "National Airport"?

by Matt T on Nov 3, 2011 2:14 pm • linkreport

I just checked Holy Cross' web site. It wasn't easy, but I found this:
Holy Cross Hospital is located at 1500 Forest Glen Road in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The hospital is just north of Washington, D.C., and near the Capital Beltway and Metro.

So while it does technically mention the word Metro, they don't have the station name or walking/bus directions from the station.

by Jamie on Nov 3, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

@Adam L: I agree about the H symbol. It makes a lot of sense on highways and such, but I can't imagine a man getting shot, running into the Metro and looking for a hospital on the map. People just don't need to know that information when they're on the Metro.

by Tim on Nov 3, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

Yeah, what is the point of the H symbol? Who will this help?

by Gavin on Nov 3, 2011 2:25 pm • linkreport

But the Waterfront is a no-brainer. NoMa, Old Town, and Ballpark are improvements. They missed opportunities with Petworth, Grosvenor, and National Airport.

by Gavin on Nov 3, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

Yeah, what is the point of the H symbol? Who will this help?
those vomiting and fainting metro riders will know where to get off to get medical attention.

by Tina on Nov 3, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

If we're adding H logos, why stop at Foggy Bottom, Forest Glen, and Medical Center?
Holy Cross Hospital is a little over half a mile from Forest Glen's entrance. Shaw is only a third of a mile from the Howard U Hospital; the Specialty Hospital is a half-mile from Eastern Market; the once and future D.C. General is about a third of a mile from Stadium-Armory; Providence Hospital is just over half a mile from Brookland station; and both Brookland and Columbia Heights have frequent bus service to the WHC/National Rehab/Children's complex.
H logos for everybody!

by tom veil on Nov 3, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport

@ Matt Johnson - Was there any other reasoning behind using the H for Holy Cross Hospital instead of using the name? If you don't include the name, I don't feel there is much value added.

I think keeping the Ronald Regan in large font was a no-brainer by WMATA. It has already dodged so many conservative bullets designed to cut its funding, it doesn't need to piss them off more.

by Cassidy on Nov 3, 2011 2:37 pm • linkreport

@Matt T

I don't think they wanted to get into another fight over the station name, especially with what happened the last time.

@Tim & Gavin

I get that they want to encourage people to use the Metro by reminding people that it's there. But I am willing to bet that people who are able to take the Metro to a hospital (mostly staff) already know that the station is there. Appending an "H" for hospital to a station named Medical Center might actually win for this year's most redundant moniker.

If I had to guess, the real reason behind the move is to avoid having to add "Holy Cross" to Forest Glen station and placate Ike Leggett and the other Maryland board members.

by Adam L on Nov 3, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport


I also agree about the H logo making no sense, especially if the hospitals at the station (like NIH/WRJMC at Medical Center) don't provide any walk-in services to civilians. People who have appointments can make a phone call or go on the web and find out which stop to take. (Assuming the hospital's site gives those directions. Gaah!)

It also doesn't make sense when the hospital isn't an easy walk from the station for someone needing walk-in services.

by Novanglus on Nov 3, 2011 2:49 pm • linkreport

I have mixed feelings about the airport. On one hand, I'm not a fan of the entire name being there because it takes up so much space and it unnecessary. But on the other hand, I sort of agree with keeping it together because all five words make up the official name of the airport.

The Silver Line will have the "Dulles International Airport" station because that's the name of the airport. It wouldn't make sense to have "Dulles International" in a supertitle above bigger "Airport" text. I don't think it makes sense to break up the official name into subtitles and titles. That makes as much sense as renaming Gallery Place as "Gallery Place-Verizon" with "Center" in the subtitle.

by Sam on Nov 3, 2011 3:06 pm • linkreport

Gah! That Airport stop is going to stick out like a sore thumb. Why couldn't they "subtitle" the "Ronald Reagan Washington" above a bolded "National Airport"?

Because they don't want a renewed sh!tstorm after the last naming/renaming issue.

And we don't need surtitles in addition to subtitles.

by ah on Nov 3, 2011 3:18 pm • linkreport

@Sam - Shouldn't it be "Washington Dulles International Airport"?

("Reagan National Airport" would be only a modest 20% over the character limit, however)

by ah on Nov 3, 2011 3:20 pm • linkreport

Doesn't matter what the stop at DCA is called... those words will not issue forth from my lips.

by Jack Love on Nov 3, 2011 3:44 pm • linkreport

What Muriel Bowser did with Georgia Ave-Petworth is an affront to the community. There were two ANC resolutions to change the name of this station. Rather than listen to the residents that are served by the station, Bowser instead grandfathered the existing name claiming that customers have strong familiarity with it. What an abuse of power.

by Kent on Nov 3, 2011 3:56 pm • linkreport

Correct me if I'm wrong:

It's my impression that you can't just walk into the Medical Center in Bethesda and receive treatment. I though the hospitals there were just research institutes except for the new Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which is not open for public injuries.

If so, the H symbol could mislead people into believing they could get off for medical care.

by thedofc on Nov 3, 2011 4:29 pm • linkreport

The Silver Line will have the "Dulles International Airport" station because that's the name of the airport

Yes, because if they just called it "Dulles Airport" folks would be hopelessly confused.

by John Foster on Nov 3, 2011 4:59 pm • linkreport


There's no requirement that Dulles stop have the full name of the airport -- they can call it "Dulles", "Dulles Airport", "IAD Airport", "IAD Departures", "Saarinen Circle", whatever.

There IS a requirement that the DCA stop have the full name "Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport". When the 90's GOP Congress added Reagan's name to it, the Arlington board refused to authorize the name change request or pay for it. So congress put into law that the stop must have the full name. Congress didn't pay for it, they just threatened to pull everything else they pay unless it happened. I'm disappointed they didn't use the smaller subtitle font to make the first three words a supertitle. I'm sure congress won't object if they shorten it to "Reagan Airport", like most airlines already do. But everyone else will mind.

by Novanglus on Nov 3, 2011 5:30 pm • linkreport

@Jamie

I'm pretty sure they added the "and Metro" recently. Last time I checked, it simply stopped at "The Capital Beltway."

The wayback machine hasn't bothered to capture the hospital's about-us page, so there's no record of this. :-(

by MDE on Nov 3, 2011 5:44 pm • linkreport

Hey, John Foster Dulles was fond of brinksmanship and came up with the coup that put the Shah into power. Clearly the Silver Line stop should be named "International Airport." It's worth the confusion to ensure we don't honor someone I disagree with.

Seriously though, what is wrong with a simple "Reagan National Airport" ?

by jakeod on Nov 3, 2011 7:13 pm • linkreport

If there is a Hospital symbol at Forest Glen than there should be symbols at other stations near hospitals as they are all closer or the same distance from the Metro Station.

Foggy Bottom (GWU Hospital)
Southern Ave (United Medical Center)
Shaw (Howard U Hospital)

by kk on Nov 3, 2011 9:01 pm • linkreport

Hey look, the Holy Cross Hospital now has a Public Transportation page on its website! http://www.holycrosshealth.org/public-transportation

by Kevn on Nov 3, 2011 10:10 pm • linkreport

@Kevn

Wow! They learned fast.

by Adam L on Nov 3, 2011 10:56 pm • linkreport

Shame they got rid of New York Avenue from the station's name in favor of Gallaudet. You can't see the university from the station.

by Omar on Nov 4, 2011 1:39 am • linkreport

You can't see New York Avenue, either. By that logic, the should have called it Florida Ave-ATF or Federal Center NE or something like that. Neither of those work.

It doesn't take long for TOD neighborhoods to take on the name of the metro station. If the whole neighborhood east of the transitway starts getting called Gallaudet (the area west will likely stay NoMa), that's a good name.

by Novanglus on Nov 4, 2011 7:59 am • linkreport

NoMa always makes me think of "No mas!". Ranks right down there with AdMo and DMV.

by ksu499 on Nov 4, 2011 9:03 am • linkreport

Agreed, New York Avenue gave it a seriousness about business which the hip, trendy, and of course transient NoMa designation doesn't. Not to mention that the so-called NoMa area is nowhere near that station ... and a residential area ... unlike what the New York Avenue area is developing into. Who's bright idea was it to change this station's name? Why do I smell the work of a GGWer at play here?

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 9:07 am • linkreport

Lance:

Not to mention that the so-called NoMa area is nowhere near that station ... and a residential area ... unlike what the New York Avenue area is developing into.

Huh?

http://www.nomabid.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/NoMa-Boundaries.pdf

by Alex B. on Nov 4, 2011 9:18 am • linkreport

@Alex B, Thanks for helping make my point. Extending the name of a successful residential redevelopment many blocks away is obviously someone's idea with naming this station after the area 'North or Massachusetts Avenue'. You know, New Carrollton is also 'north of Massachusetts Avenue' ... maybe we should extend it to there too? What's being missed in this rebranding effort is that "New York Avenue Metro Stop" was gaining it's own cachet. Maybe not amongst the hipsters looking for residential properties, but definitely amongst the metropolitan business community looking for suitable places to establish themselves in the District ... And now all that is lost ... Because some hipster thought it would be cool to extend the name of a very vanilla, Ballston-like residential area northward .... Yes, we need successful plain-vanilla residential areas but we also need to expand our business base beyond law firms and government offices. And that's what 'New York Avenue Metro Stop" was doing ...

by Lance on Nov 4, 2011 9:39 am • linkreport

LOL@Lance. I think we can all now agree that NoMa, as a user friendly name, is as uninformative staring at a white board. Cute and hip, but not informative, which IMO defeated the whole purpose of debating the most important aspects of naming a station.

But hey, in the end, aren't we all GGW'rs.

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2011 9:46 am • linkreport

Lance:

What's being missed in this rebranding effort is that "New York Avenue Metro Stop" was gaining it's own cachet.

No it wasn't. Don't confuse name recognition with 'cachet.'

by Alex B. on Nov 4, 2011 9:48 am • linkreport

So, while everyone is asking WMATA to shorten names, they will actually make a bunch longer.

Thanks metro.

by Jasper on Nov 4, 2011 9:57 am • linkreport

@Novanglus: Actually, you can indeed see New York Avenue from the station: the overpass that carries the avenue over tracks is very visible from the station platform.

by davidj on Nov 4, 2011 9:59 am • linkreport

In other news a name for a neighborhood that has been used since the late 90's (according to wikipedia, the BID was created in 2007) was concocted by the cabal of ggw'ers that secretly dictate city policy via time machine.

by Canaan on Nov 4, 2011 10:07 am • linkreport

I have deleted a comment by @Canaan for revealing state blog secrets.

Okay, I didn't really delete that comment.

Trust me, if we had a time machine, we'd change more than the name of the unnamed area now known by many as "NoMa."

I am glad that Lance thinks we're as influential as the Illuminati or the Freemasons.

by Matt Johnson on Nov 4, 2011 10:12 am • linkreport

Who controls the British Crown?
Who keeps the Metric system down?

by Alex B. on Nov 4, 2011 10:16 am • linkreport

Does it drive anyone else nuts that even after subtitling, the station names STILL arbitrarily swaps hyphens for slashes in some station? The existence of names like "Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan" has always been pretty ridiculous, and I don't understand why they wouldn't use this as an opportunity to switch to a consistent style.

by Andy on Nov 4, 2011 10:25 am • linkreport

@ Alex B:Who controls the British Crown?
Who keeps the Metric system down?

Did you know the Brits are considering moving up an hour to be more in line with the rest of Europe! HA! We've already forced the metric system down their throats, now CET, and just wait a decade or so and they'll be begging for the €.

by Jasper on Nov 4, 2011 11:24 am • linkreport

@Lance

"Many blocks away"?! Can you even read a map? The station is in the middle of the NoMa BID.

Look you probably don't even ever go to this part of town so why do you care?

We've had this discussion about place names 1000 times; they are created by humans and may and do change.

by MLD on Nov 4, 2011 11:26 am • linkreport

@MLD:
"We've had this discussion about place names 1000 times; they are created by humans and may and do change."

False. Place names never change. For example, "Dupont Circle" is the anglicized version of a Native American place name that can be roughly translated as "circular pathway that is difficult to navigate and is always jammed."

And Lance should know. He lives in Dupont Circle. And that means he lives in the park, surrounded by traffic. The rest of the area that calls itself "Dupont Circle" is just pretending, because it's clearly outside the Circle.

by Matt Johnson on Nov 4, 2011 11:35 am • linkreport

Whenever stations pop up that aren't in the center of a long-established neighborhood, a neighborhood forms using the station name. We've seen that with Courthouse, Virginia Square, Van Ness, and others.

But "New York Ave" isn't a neighborhood name, it's a six-mile highway served by 4-5 metro stations. That's the same problem with the "Georgia Ave" station, which should be renamed to Petworth, as well as King Street and Braddock Road. NoMa and Gallaudet are good neighborhood names -- even if they're not really in use yet, they will be.

If you wanna name the station after what's traditionally been in the area, call it "Sursum Corda-Industrial Blight/Outdoor Drug Market." Better to look to the future, though.

by Novanglus on Nov 4, 2011 12:45 pm • linkreport

Matt Johnson +1

I'd add that Washington, DC in itself is the perfect example of places changing names. First, it was not there. And now it is! And then there was Arlington! Which was first something native, then Fairfax, then DC, then Arlington! And how 'bout that George Town, MD place, huh?

by Jasper on Nov 4, 2011 1:52 pm • linkreport

Oh, and I'd still like to add Delaware Avenue to the name of the NoMa-GallaudetNY/FL/DE Ave station.

by Jasper on Nov 4, 2011 1:55 pm • linkreport

Is there any reason we do not use the names of side streets that many stations are on as the names. I cant think of one name besides Rhode Island Ave that could not be changed to name of a side street.

Minnesota Ave
Benning Rd
Southern Ave
King Street
Braddock Rd
Eisenhower Ave
Potomac Ave
Naylor Rd
Branch Ave
Van Dorn Street
New York Ave (besides Noma)

could all be changed to be given neighbourhood names or local street names which would be a better description of the area than streets that are miles long.

Can anyone answer this if the NY Ave station was opened in 2004 and the NOMA Bid was established in 2007 why did the BID not take the name of the surrounding area or the station itself ?

@ Novanglus

There is no neighbourhood named Gallaudet anywhere in DC. I know people that have lived near Gallaudet University for the past 40 years and not once have they ever called the area Galludet

by kk on Nov 4, 2011 2:52 pm • linkreport

King Street Old Town Alexandria
Braddock Rd Madison (after the street and the president)
Eisenhower Ave Carlyle
Van Dorn Street Eisenhower Valley
New York Ave NoMa

by Jasper on Nov 4, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

New York Ave is No Mas.

by Tyler on Nov 5, 2011 11:38 am • linkreport

It doesn't take long for TOD neighborhoods to take on the name of the metro station

Is there a case for this other than Van Ness? Because that station was named after a street too.

by Omar on Nov 6, 2011 8:38 am • linkreport

@Omar

The Orange Line in Arlington is a good example. Virginia Sq is made up, Ballston wasn't a common term pre-Metro, nor was Court House (for the 'hood, at least).

by Alex B. on Nov 6, 2011 1:08 pm • linkreport

I am sure the 3-word REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT name would fly with Congress. Despite wide-spread international acclaim for Ronald Reagan the Congress was forced to back the airport name change by the mean spirited and rarely enlightened neanderthals who control the Arlington County Board.

by Pelham1861 on Nov 7, 2011 2:00 pm • linkreport

NOMA..Cute and hip, but not informative

We've had this discussion before, but what the heck I'll give it one last shot---if SoHo or TriBeCa or DUMBO can be acceptable neighborhood names in NYC, I see no reason why NoMa can't be acceptable for DC. It is descriptive enough for the area "just" north of Mass Ave. UGH. Give it up NOMA haters!

Whether created by a Real Estate company or a person or community, the name has already taken off and will most probably be used from now on. We need to get over it. Now why on earth Gallaudet is in the name is beyond me. I have always been against using a building/company or theatre (all are temporary and can be moved/removed) for naming, versus LOCATIONS/NEIGHBORHOODS.

Virginia Sq is made up, Ballston wasn't a common term pre-Metro

Um, wasn't that area names after the town founded by Mr. Ball, friend of G.Washington? I am not making this up:

Check it out

This particular passage proves you wrong:

By 1900 a well-defined village called Central Ballston had developed in the area bounded by the present-day Wilson Boulevard, Taylor Street, Washington Boulevard, and Pollard Street...

While none of us was alive in 1900 (unless someone on here is 111 years old..maybe), I think it's safe to assume that the name Ballston has been around prior to 1975.

by LuvDusty on Nov 7, 2011 4:03 pm • linkreport

@LuvDusty: There's a difference between *existing* and *being common*. The latter was the claim, and it's backed up by people I know who grew up in Northern Virginia pre-Metro and have told me the area was referred to as Parkington. Wikipedia backs this up as well:

On November 4, 1951, the Parkington Shopping Center opened at the intersection formerly known as Balls Crossroads, on the site of the present Ballston Common Mall. Parkington was anchored by the headquarters location of the Hecht Company and was reputed to have the largest parking garage in the U.S. when it opened. For some time afterward, Ballston became commonly known as Parkington.

The name didn't originate with the Metro station, but was brought into common use (once again, after having fallen into disuse) by the coming of the Metro.

by TimK on Nov 7, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

@TimK: I was talking about 1900. Not 1951. My point was not just that the name Ballston existed, but that it most likely was in common use prior to the Metro, and even as you pointed out, prior to the use of the term Parkington (which didn't happen until the 50s). From 1900-1950 the term Ballston was used to describe the area. That was my point.

That it later became more well known as Parkington (due to the shopping center), as you correctly pointed out, does not negate the fact that the area was known as Ballston 100+ years ago, 70 years prior to Metro's opening, and 50 years prior to it being called Parkington. So my original point stands.

If you know anyone still alive who knew the area back in the early 1900s(!!)...would love to hear from them directly if it was called something other than Ballston--otherwise, you (and I) are just speculating.

by LuvDusty on Nov 7, 2011 11:27 pm • linkreport

kk is right that there's never been a DC neighborhood called Gallaudet. I'm saying it would be a good name for the unnamed neighborhood around the school. Using the name for the station would make that happen.

Omar is right that Van Ness is a street. But it's not a major thoroughfare. Imagine the confusion if that station had been named "Connecticut Avenue".

LuvDusty is correct that the name Ballston once referred to that area (as did Balls Crossroads and, unfortunately, Balls Crossing). But no one was calling it that when metro came in, and the name was only revived because of the metro station.

Which is the point of the argument. They could call the NY/FL Ave station "Swampoodle" and the neighborhood will eventually take on the name (yes, I know the original Swampoodle was further south).

As for the location of NoMa, the name is older than the current BID -- it once referred to the entire area bounded by NY Ave, MV Square, Mass Ave, and the tracks. But as development took off, MVT and NoMa had different needs and created different BID's. The NoMa stop is now in the middle of the NoMa BID.

by Novanglus on Nov 8, 2011 12:18 am • linkreport

Lesson - complain about the name of National Airport, get instant comments from Pelham1861!

I am sure the 3-word REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT name would fly with Congress. Despite wide-spread international acclaim for Ronald Reagan the Congress was forced to back the airport name change by the mean spirited and rarely enlightened neanderthals who control the Arlington County Board.

It may very well be that Congress would be fine with that - but that's not the point. You'd need them to act on it. Good luck.

I won't even touch on the merits of naming things for Reagan, as that's really beside the point.

It remains quite simple - WMATA had simple rules for who paid for renaming Metro stations, and those advocating to change the Airport's name didn't want to follow those reasonable rules.

by Alex B. on Nov 8, 2011 9:10 am • linkreport

@Novanglus: Thank you for your succinct post. I am not arguing that the name of a Metro station can't influence the name people actually end up calling a neighborhood--but what I meant was that Ballston was a name already used and in existence way before Metro. I agree that Metro's use of the name re-popularized it, but not that it did so originally.

So it's not the same as say, Virginia Square (which was totally a Metro creation) or Courthouse.

To me, Ballston is a bad example of that point. Same for Rosslyn, which if I'm not mistaken came from the name of the former Ross-Lyn farm that was in that area prior to Metro.

by LuvDusty on Nov 8, 2011 11:59 am • linkreport

Thank you so much to all those who pointed out the utter ridiculousness of the assertion that the infill station on the Red Line is not located near the NoMa area. It's at the center of it. Asserting anything else is to appear deranged.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Nov 8, 2011 8:22 pm • linkreport

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