How, asks a woman reader, did Kiss and Ride -- the automotive loops at Metro stations where people are dropped off and picked up -- get its name?

My reader assumes it's a place where wives kiss subway-riding husbands goodbye in the morning and thereby suggests the name may be sexist. But there are husbands who kiss their subway-riding wives goodbye, so any sexism cuts both ways.

The origin of the name was related to me nearly 20 years ago by the man who claims to have invented it -- Walter J. McCarter, the longtime general manager of the Chicago Transit Authority who became, by President Lyndon B. Johnson's appointment, the second and last administrator of Washington's subway-planning National Capital Transportation Agency. NCTA was replaced by the Metro transit authority in 1967.

In Chicago, McCarter recounted, the transit system set up some drop-off and pick-up points, but nobody could figure a non-bureaucratic name for them. McCarter said he observed a morning rush hour one day and witnessed the kissing ritual by those being dropped off for the ride to the downtown Loop.

Hence he applied the informal name, which has been adopted almost universally by public transit systems in this country.