Whether it involves a future school, highway or Metro station, few things seem to get the public’s blood boiling more than attaching a permanent name to a public entity.
Last week, Metro and Fairfax County launched a survey about the names of eight future Silver Line stations in western Fairfax. In addition to naming the four Tysons Corner stations and one Reston station that are slated to open late next year, the survey seeks feedback on the names of three Phase 2 stations in the Reston and Herndon areas.
According to the survey on Metro’s website, “long lasting names in Metro's system that have withstood the test of time have typically included the names of towns, streets, neighborhoods, and landmarks.”
The survey also asks that name suggestions be “unique, distinctive and not easily confused with other station names.”
Given those parameters, it’s somewhat understandable that Metro officials chose to reopen the whole “name our station” game. Last April, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors weighed in with Tysons-McLean, Tysons I, Tysons II, Tysons Central and Tysons-Spring Hill. There also was Reston-Wiehle Avenue, Reston Town Center, Herndon-Reston West and Herndon-Dulles East.
Do those names have a strong geographic link? Yes.
Unique and distinctive? Some work better than others.
In fairness to Metro, they’ll never get 100 percent agreement on any name. Historians inevitably will find a flaw in the process, as will politicians, teachers, soccer parents and bus drivers.
Most important, in our view, is that each stop be linked to a well-known landmark and is easy to remember. Piling on a lengthy list of descriptors not only make stops hard to memorize, but they’re also difficult to list on a printed map and ridiculously long in recorded announcements.
Last April’s original list of station names had a coherent naming scheme that made sense to both daily riders and occasional tourists.
It will be good to hear what survey respondents have to say; Metro shouldn’t stray too far from last year’s list.
Perhaps the best news is that station names won’t be put out to bid. A year ago, Metro officials floated the idea of selling naming rights to stations across its network in an attempt to bridge some gaps in its operating budget.
As much as some Restonians might dislike “Herndon-Reston West,” we’re fairly sure they prefer it to Jiffy Lube-Wiehle or Exxon Tysons-Spring Hill.