Everyone, it seems, wants their landmark or institution or neighborhood immortalized beneath the Metro “M.” Meanwhile, Metro is heading for several major changes in service that would require changes to its map, the first of these by June.
So this year, the board brushed up its naming policy and last week set about implementing it in response to many requests to change station names while changing the map.
The board reviewed its standards for naming stations and updated its policy in July with these results:
●Station names can consist of a primary name and a secondary name. The primary name will be highlighted in bold type for easy recognition.
●Names will be limited to 19 characters, 13 for transfer stations.
●Old station names that exceed the character limit will be protected.
●Proposed name changes will be subjected to testing with riders.
●Landmarks proposed for inclusion in station names should be within a half-mile of the station.
●Jurisdictions that proposed the name changes to the Metro board will be responsible for covering the cost of modifying maps, pylons, station lettering, brochures and other places where the new names must appear.
A document that accompanied the board’s resolution noted that “the primary purpose of station names is to identify the station locations by geographical features or centers of activity to help customers successfully navigate the system.”
So far, so good. Now let’s look at what happens when policy meets politics. You can judge whether riders won out. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority received these station-naming proposals from the jurisdictions that pay for Metro.
Primary: New York Ave-NoMa
Secondary: Gallaudet U
●Metro staff comments: The District’s proposed change for the New York Avenue station was over the character limit, and it didn’t play well in customer research. Riders asked, “What’s NoMa?” (For those who haven’t kept up with real estate trends, it’s the neighborhood North of Massachusetts Avenue, which is on the upswing after the revitalization of another transportation hub, Union Station.)
●Board decision: It’s going to be “NoMa-Gallaudet U” as the primary name, with “New York Ave” as the more subdued, secondary name. Metro General Manager Richard Sarles suggested that the board keep “New York Ave” in the title for a year to help riders make the transition.
Primary: Forest Glen-Holy Cross Hospital
●Metro staff comments: The proposal supported by Montgomery County is over the character limit. There’s an issue about whether the extended name amounts to giving the hospital commercial naming rights to the station. The staff recommended keeping the name as “Forest Glen” and adding an “H,” the widely used symbol for hospital.