- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

What if the Metro’s Federal Triangle station was named after Ronald Reagan? Or another Republican president, Donald Trump?

What if folks clamored to rename the Woodley Station on the Red Line because the area was named in honor of white slave owners connected to none other than Francis Scott Key? Yes, that Francis Scott Key, who penned “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“What’s up?” you ask. Here’s your answer: The D.C. regional mass transit authority is considering selling naming rights to some rail stations, and a vote could come as soon as this week.

Don’t get all dusted up just yet, though.

This naming-rights thing is still in preliminary stages. The thing is, however, that the thing isn’t just a D.C. thing, or a Virginia thing, or a Maryland thing.

It’s a national thing, since public dollars and federal input must be considered.

And that’s another thing: Metro and federal authorities really drag their feet on issues that really matter — like rail safety, public safety and planning and everything that entails unions, accountability and the almighty dollar.

So don’t expect any naming-rights proposals and contracts to be put on blast before the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Some transit systems have their name-rights policies in place. New York City’s rail is the king of marketing, PR and advertising. New Yorkers don’t appear to mind as the Big Apple oversells everything.

Philadelphia and Boston are also in the naming-rights game.

And you know what? The Metro system pondered it, too, and — like Los Angeles did in February — pooh-poohed the naming-rights thing in 2011.

Metro’s rail system isn’t like the Interstate Highway System pushed by the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s, although Metro does follow one aspect of that genius system — and that is Metrorail stations use neighborhood and community names.

The “location, location, location” cachet would be lost if, for example, the Federal Triangle Station on the Blue-Yellow Line is changed to Trump-Federal Triangle just because the Trump hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue is that area’s newest neighbor.

And renaming Federal Triangle as the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center simply does not roll off the tongue. Besides, you can imagine the naysayers pleading, “Not another Reagan thing, please and thanks.”

No, the few million dollars that naming rights would pour into Metro coffers, probably $1 million or $2 million a year, won’t solve Metro’s problems — which are a lack of planning, too little oversight and inefficiency.

If anything, renaming stations could cost taxpayers more money since everything Metro (signs, brochures, maps) would have to be changed: Websites and links for businesses, organizations and sports and entertainment venues would have to be changed. Even public schools and colleges would have to revisit information they exchange with students, families and teachers.

And on top of having to think of, plan for and actually make sure the changes are made, consider Metro’s other thing: Somebody somewhere is going to be offended by the name change.

Resist and recall is the revolutionary cry of the day.

Metro needs to fix itself, not take on a costly, time-consuming project that would prove to be a distraction.

Someone needs to gift the Metro Board of Directors a wooden paddle that reads “Reality Check.” With all that needs Metro’s undivided attention for the next several years, the board shouldn’t even be wasting its time and public dollars on naming rights.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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