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Sound Transit is planning to rename the University Street Station to “Union Street Symphony” ahead of the opening of the Northgate Link extension. ST has correctly determined that having a station named “University Street” and another named “University District” (in addition to a third station named “University of Washington”) will cause confusion to riders. While I agree with the motivation to change the station name, there are some problems with this rename. There is a different solution which addresses these problems while still clearing up the confusion.

The Downtown Transit Tunnel opened in 1990. Renaming a station that has existed in public for 30 years can be a bad idea. There are thirty years of printed materials with “University Street” station referring to a station downtown. There are thirty years of human memories, some people who probably rarely use transit, or who may not get the notice of a transit station name change. Some of these people may live in different cities and countries or using printed materials in different languages. Educating everyone on the new name will be difficult and expensive and will be a serious usability problem for riders. Especially people looking for “University Street”, not finding it, but instead finding “University District” which is many miles away.

A good rule to follow when naming transit stations is the principle that station names should tell you where the station is. In this case, the University Station is one of only two stations in the system whose name actually does that job (along with Sea-Tac station). That station is on University Street. It’s not on Union, and it’s not on “Symphony” (which isn’t a place). Taking the only station in the city whose name references where it is and naming it after somewhere it isn’t seems like a bad idea and move in the wrong direction. Paying $5.3 million to do it seems like a very poor use of public funds.

The reason the current names are a problem is that they refer to neighborhoods rather than refer to where the stations are. But it is possible to create names that will both not confuse people familiar with the old names and be sufficiently disambiguated. If we were to rename the stations to refer to their location as well as neighborhood or landmark, we could solve both problems. We could even do this in a way that existing printed materials referring to University Street Station would not become useless or worse. As long as we are spending millions to rename stations, let’s do it right and fix all the names.

  1. 103rd Street – Northgate
  2. Roosevelt & 66th Street
  3. 43rd and Brooklyn Ave- University District
  4. Montlake Boulevard – University of Washington
  5. Broadway Ave – Capitol Hill
  6. 5th and Pine Street – Westlake
  7. 3rd and University Street – Benaroya Hall
  8. 3rd and James Street – Pioneer Square
  9. 4th and Jackson  Street- International District Chinatown


Duplicated or similar station names are not actually a big deal. Chicago’s L system has five stations named “Western” – including two “Westerns” on the blue line alone – as well as three “Californias”, three “Pulaskis”, three “Kedzies” (and a “Kedzie-Homan”), three “Ciceros”, etc. You get the idea. New York has many similarly named stations, and several duplicates (“Canal Street” springs to mind). Toronto has “St Clair” and “St Clair West” both on the yellow line. Users can figure this out if they understand where the stations are. Let’s come up with a naming scheme that actually improves service usability.

73 Replies to “Station renames”

  1. If renaming the station is a bad idea, then why did we go through the process of renaming the station in the first place?

    Sounds like actually renaming the station was never really on the table. I wish ST could have been up front about it. Just keeping it as “University Street Station” seems better than this contrived mess.

    Besides, anything worth doing is worth doing well, right?

    1. My understanding is that the whole renaming thing started with the Feds, not ST. But in any case, the rename is a good idea because “University Street Station” is way to confusing for occasional riders looking to find the University of Washington.

      This is just another instance where ST is left to clean up a mess that started with Metro. If Metro had just named it “Seneca” in the first place instead of “University” then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

      In Metro’s defense however, nobody was ever going to extend the bus tunnel to the UW. It just wasn’t going to happen. But that is still a poor excuse for picking a bad name.

      1. This is the first and only time I’ve heard renaming started with the feds… that doesn’t really make any sense.

      2. My understanding is that the FTA was the first to suggest renaming. Basically having too many stations with similar names runs afoul of some federal guideline somewhere, and since the Feds are chipping in, their voice gets heard louder than most.

        I’m not saying that ST couldn’t have worked with the Feds to avoid the rename, it in this case they are correct. The station should be renamed.

      3. “having too many stations with similar names runs afoul of some federal guideline somewhere” – have you ever been to NYC? I can promise this isn’t true.

      4. @barman,

        I spend a lot of time in NYC, more than I would like actually. But I am just passing on what I have heard from sources I trust.

  2. I don’t care too much about names. But $5.3 million to rename an existing station is ridiculous. The bottom line for passengers is where can you go, when can you go there, and how quickly can you get there. Renaming a station does nothing to address this bottom line, but there are plenty of unfunded needs that do.

    For instance, $5.3 million would go a long way towards connecting the Mt. Baker ped bridge to the train platform, improving sidewalks at virtually every station, or adding a ped bridge over SR-202 connecting SE Redmond Station to the adjacent retail (which I referred to on a previous STB post a few days ago).

    1. It’s only $5.3m if you rename it something that doesn’t abbreviate to “USS”. If the new name does abbreviate to “USS” then it only costs ~$1m.

      That said, $5.3 isn’t a big number for doing something right. Just bite the bullet and rename it Seneca or Symphony.

      1. I also don’t get why they need to change the abbreviation on the backend at all. O’Hare Airport’s IATA code (ORD) still reflects its old name of Orchard Field, but somehow they’ve been able to make that work. Just call it Seneca (or Symphony, whatever) and continue referring to it as USS internally.

      2. @Pat,

        They thought of that, but decided it interjected too much uncertainty into things like emergency response.

      3. Exactly Pat! BART still uses WP (West Pittsburg) in internal reporting although the station was renamed Pittsburg – Bay Point many years ago.

      4. Or just rename it to Seneca or Symphony and keep the USS as ST’s internal acronym. O’Hare Airport’s acronym is still ORD because it was named Orchard Field Airport back in the 1940s. ST can just internally think of “USS” as referring to University-Seneca/Symphony Station. We shouldn’t let some internal dispatching acronym dictate station naming or force us to spend an extra $4m.
        Also, “Union Symphony Station” is the one name ST could chose that might increase the amount of confusion tourists and new/infrequent transit riders experience using LINK. It’s not on Union St and there’s already a Union Station. Imagine this conversation in a year: “Yeah you want to get off the train at Union Symphony Station and exit towards University Street instead of Seneca Street. No, don’t pull up Union Station on your phone, that’s not a rail station anymore, it’s just the offices of the people who came up with our station names.”

      5. I’m all for being responsible with money, but it bothers me that ST may end up tunneling to West Seattle for hundreds of millions for no benefit at all while renaming a station that will affect millions of dollars might not really happen because 5 million is all of a sudden too much. I don’t get why they are even considering the half-assed “Union Street Symphony” which will confuse riders won’t it? Why go through the outreach process that resulted in “Symphony Station” in the first place? Just name it “Union Street Station” if you really really really can’t actually rename the station in any significant way.

  3. Referencing the cross street (even if the station isn’t directly on the cross) seems like the best practice for station naming in general. The numbered cross streets are easier to remember if you go to far.

    Though in this case having a street named university that is no where near the University will always cause problems. They really should have renamed the street after the University moved from downtown to its current location back in 1889.

    1. I don’t really get that. What if we had a station at “Seattle University”? Should we just avoid the word “University” because the University of Washington has a monopoly on it? Don’t you think that someone who is looking for the University of Washington will focus just as much on the “Washington” as the “University” part, since anyone with any sense would realize that “University” could be any number of a dozen universities in the city.

      Sound Transit is freaking out over nothing. I really don’t think it is a big deal. They should have named the UW Station “Husky Stadium” but whatever.

    2. As mentioned up above, the names you have reference minor streets. I also think that some neighborhoods are so well known, and some streets so obscure that you gain little by referencing the address. To be sure, it does make it easier to actually get to the station, but good signage is probably more useful.

      I also don’t think there is anything wrong with University Street. No, it isn’t ideal, but “University” is a very generic term. There are several within the city (Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, etc.). The logo for the University of Washington features a big ‘W’, not a big ‘U’.

      So, I would keep the downtown station and going north I would have:

      Capitol Hill
      UW Husky Stadium
      UW 45th
      65th and Roosevelt
      Mountlake Terrace

      Some of these are named after the neighborhood, while others are named after the nearest important streets. Yes, I realize that the U-District station won’t actually be at 45th and the Ave, but close enough. If you walk to 45th and the Ave you should be able to see a sign pointing you to the subway entrance.

      Not that I would spend money renaming UW Station. It is a terrible name (since it really isn’t in the university, unlike the original proposal) but it is close enough. At least it is short.

  4. I strongly disagree. Having personally been confused by the duplicate station names in NYC (despite a lot of experience with networks in other languages), I see no reason to imitate the practice – it’s difficult to explain the difference between stations in a foreign language.
    By contrast, look how few systems in countries with better transit than America use landmark/neighborhood names for their stations – Zurich, Madrid, Melbourne, Vancouver.

  5. Your suggested station names are actually quite bad. Like, why use minor street names that people outside the neighborhood don’t know? 103rd St is a minor residential street that people outside the neighborhood don’t know anything about – the street people do know about is called Northgate, and gee, shocking coincidence, look at the station name.

    And the names refer to neighborhoods rather than where the stations are? Que? The neighborhoods ARE where the stations are. Capitol Hill station is at Capitol Hill, that’s where the station is. And please explain how “Sea-Tac” tells you where the station is but “Capitol Hill” does not – by the logic in the rest of the article, we should rename it to “S 176th St Sea-Tac”.

    With the exception of the 3rd & University St proposal, not a single one of your proposed station names will make the stations easier for people to find.

  6. Anecdotal evidence isn’t really evidence, but that being said, I’ve been stopped multiple times at the University Street Station by people from out of town looking for UW. Most often trying to see the Cherry Blossoms.

    1. Anecdotal evidence is based on firsthand experience. Though it’s not entirely thorough, it starts you off in the right direction of research. Your experience definitely justifies ST’s reason for renaming University Street Station.

      1. I worked on University St. for 38 years and was never asked for where the University of Washington was. This anecdotal evidence therefore “definitely justifies” not spending over five million dollars to solve the confusion you claim to have encountered.

      2. It’s like the police blotter. I rarely saw crime in the northern U-District, but the police blotter says it occurred every day within a block of my apartment. You don’t see the people being confused, but that doesn’t mean the people aren’t there. There have been continuous complaints to Metro and ST about it for thirty years. That’s not just one or two anecdotes.

  7. Avoiding duplicates should absolutely be a priority. In addition, the suggested names are entirely too complicated. There is nothing wrong with using streets/locations if no other neighborhood or “memorable” names exist (and there is a certain charm to memorable names like Mount Baker and Symphony), but using both is just arduous… seems like we’re steps away from replicating “Orange County/John Wayne/Santa Ana Airport”.

  8. Your suggestions are way too clunky and complicated ! Things need to be kept simple… just name it Seneca Street or Symphony and call it good !

    1. Clunky indeed. Besides, many of these station border other streets. Chinatown touches 5th Ave and King St, Pioneer Square touches 2nd ave and Yesler, Northgate is also along 1st Ave NE…

    2. Amen! Station names should be short. People will figure out where it is in relation to the street grid. Do people really get confused by Capitol Hill by not having John or Broadway in the name? Simplifying a name is more efficient for the overall system and, if successful, can help define the neighborhood in the future.

      Elongating the name from “Symphony” to “Union Street Symphony” makes me so sad. I feel like the Sound Transit could use some better leadership with station names and user interface in general.

    3. Put the most well-known name first: “Capitol Hill Station”, and then on a second line in smaller letters “Broadway & E John Street”.

  9. Naming a station after Benaroya Hall is a mistake. One might as well name it “Crass Consumption Station”. ST actually has naming guidelines. Perhaps they should be looked at for guidance in naming stations.

    1. Here are the criteria. Note your suggestions violate several of them and the ADA.

      “There are five criteria for Sound Transit station names:

      Association with a nearby street or with surrounding neighborhood names or landmarks

      Be brief and easy to remember

      Be no more than 30 characters, per ADA requirements

      Avoid commercial references

      Avoid similar names of existing stations”

      Benaroya Hall is no landmark and is a commercial reference. No dice.

      1. I don’t think Benaroya is what they meant by commercial reference. It specifically was to avoid having stations named “Amazon”, “Boeing”, “Expedia” or “Microsoft”. Benaroya is the name of a building, there is no adjacent business with that name. The business (a nonprofit) is “Symphony”, which is of course in the proposed name.

  10. They really should have renamed the street after the University moved from downtown

    UW still owns the land, the Metropolitan Tract is a major source of funding for the school. Harvard and Yale OTOH, I don’t know why they didn’t rename those streets when the schools moved back east :=

    1. Maybe people were having the same conversation back in 1889 and didn’t want to spend resources to rename a street at that time :)

  11. Andrew? Sherwin? All we need is to get John Bailo back in the comments and we’ll have the whole 2014 STB gang back together.

    1. Shhhh. Careful now, if someone types his name only two more times in this thread he’ll reappear.

  12. Nitpick, but this isn’t accurate:

    >A good rule to follow when naming transit stations is the principle that station names should tell you where the station is. In this case, the University Station is one of only two stations in the system whose name actually does that job (along with Sea-Tac station).

    Tukwila-Int’l Blvd and Othello are also named after the streets they’re on.

  13. I dislike the list. but if it was pursued, the directionals to the street names could be added: NE 130th Street; NE 103rd Street, Roosevelt (the area) and NE 65th Street, NE 45th Street and Brooklyn Avenue NE, Montlake Boulevard NE, Broadway and John Street, 5th Avenue South and South Jackson Street.

    1. Thank you. Major pet peeve. Broadway. NOT Broadway Ave. NOT Broadway St. JUST Broadway. Same convention in Tacoma, New York, and dozens of other cities (and even small towns) throughout the US.

  14. We are going from an 80K a day system today to a 240K a day system in 5 years; most printed materials will be outdated merely due to system expansion. For every possibly confused person today by a name change there are two future riders that don’t deserve the confusion.

    We are spending billions on extensions. Now is the time for making this a whole new name. Whining about a one-time $5M cost to change names seems ridiculous and petty.

    Further, just calling it “Symphony” gives enough room to put “University St” on a temporary sign in smaller letters that can be recommissioned when East Link opens.

    Just do it! Just call it Symphony Station now and be done with the topic!

    1. Agreed. Besides, the majority of users who genuinely navigate the system with printed materials-and I really can’t think of any good system maps we have out there-are proactive to keep their materials up-to-date. Aside from that, it’s safe to say most navigate with an app or Google Maps.

    2. When East Link opens there will be a whole new crowd of confused people getting off at Symphony Station and asking where the Meydenbauer Center is. Honestly, there’s no helping people that think UW is the only university in Seattle (or that they are all in one place). What percentage of people riding Link could tell you what cross street Benaroya Hall is on? Or even know/care where the Seattle Symphony plays? For the confused, who seem to be mostly from out of town, that percentage is going to approach zero.

    3. Technically, a symphony is a type of musical competition. Seattle Symphony is actually an orchestra that plays symphonies. Other orchestras play symphonies there too. It’s true that one can go hear a symphony anywhere but one can hold a university class anywhere. If the hall went away, it would be a situation similar to the University Street Station name (where is the adjacent university?) but that’s just not likely for at least several decades.

  15. There are few times I disagree with the opinions and analysis of this blog. This is definitely one of those times. Whether it’s an intersection, neighborhood or landmark, a station should match the most common label the public refers to it as. The suggested list is cumbersome and doesn’t match the multiple streets each station borders (ex. Pioneer Square also border 2nd & Yesler. Northgate station also borders 100th St & 1st Ave NE).

    However, I do agree that the new name of Union St – Symphony is terrible because the station doesn’t touch Union St whatsoever. The sole term of Symphony is better.

  16. And what is wrong with Seneca Street Symphony? Seneca Street was the 2nd place option (IIRC, also my first choice) and the station is actually located on Seneca St.

    The reason the current names is a problem isn’t because they refer to neighborhoods. It’s because they are ambiguous. University doesn’t refer to a neighborhood at all. Nor does it refer to the University at the current end of the line.

    The suggested names are awful. It is much more difficult to remember numbered streets as station names and they are harder to distinguish at a glance. This is particularly relevant to those who speak foreign languages. I’ve navigated numerous foreign transit networks by recognizing the shape/length of the station name even though I don’t speak the language and couldn’t begin to pronounce the word. The word University is easy to distinguish from Westlake at a glance. Entirely different character symbols and lengths. Now let’s distinguish between ‘3rd and …’ and ‘3rd and …’ and ‘5th and ….’

    “Duplicated or similar station names are not actually a big deal. Chicago’s L system has five stations named “Western” – including two “Westerns” on the blue line alone – as well as three “Californias”, three “Pulaskis”, three “Kedzies” (and a “Kedzie-Homan”), three “Ciceros”, etc. You get the idea. New York has many similarly named stations, and several duplicates (“Canal Street” springs to mind). Toronto has “St Clair” and “St Clair West” both on the yellow line.”

    Yeah, that’s a big F’n deal and should be avoided at all costs.

    1. The (admittedly dumb) rationale for “Union Street/Symphony” is that the station is internally designated as “USS” in their software and they wanted to keep the acronym to avoid spending a lot of money fixing it.

      1. Why don’t they keep the old acronym in the system back-end if it’s so complicated and expensive to change it? This is yet another example of ST being way more complicated than necessary.

    2. Numbers ain’t so bad for foreigners since the same number symbols are used everywhere on Earth. When I visited Japan, the only part of Japanese text that I could read was the numbers.

    3. Yup. Naming after numbered streets works where a grid system is consistent and well understood by the populace (e.g. New York, or Chicago where afaik the street numbering system is still taught in city schools). This is not the case in Seattle.

      Duplicated stop names in Chicago aren’t an issue where they’re on different lines. But the two Westerns and Harlems on the Blue Line are a huge problem and visitors go the wrong way all the time.

    4. I think that many posters forget that both Chicago and New York systems were originally several privately-owned operations. Merging the companies under public ownership created many of the duplicate station names.

  17. Union/Symphony is dumb, but damn I’m so glad you’re not naming the stations. Your cure is worse than the disease. The specificity of an exact street is nice but it radically complexifies station names. The number one and two things they need to be are simple and memorable. And “they should tell you where you are” is arguably more applicable to neighborhood based conventions rather than cross streets. A station simply named “Ballard” will be far preferable to 14th Ave NW/NW Market St/East Ballard or some such. And ‘Columbia City’ is far preferable to MLK Jr. Way S./SE Alaska St.

    The station should have either been just “Seneca” or “Symphony”. Change the back of house as needed, but public-facing names could differ from inherited acronyms.

    1. Ya, those are horrible. And some won’t work because the run afoul of ADA guidelines.

      Station names should be short, sweet, and specific. You don’t need to include every bit of wayfinding info in the name. Most of that info can be provided in secondary information.

    2. I agree that just “Seneca” or “Symphony” are much preferable to the alternatives. I was just pointing out that if we are going to go with a mouthful for a station name it might as well at least use the street name it is actually located on. How anyone goes into a process to clear up confusing station names and comes up with a solution that names a station for a street the station is NOT located on is beyond me.

      (In an above post, Pat explained the internal rationale for USS but like you said – If is so hard to change the internal designation leave it as is, it doesn’t need to match the public moniker, it clearly didn’t before anyway.)

  18. Street names only make sense when there are multiple stops in the same neighborhood or the neighborhood has an ambiguous name. University Street meets those criteria, but most other stations don’t and should keep the neighborhood or landmark name.

    I think it should be renamed “Seneca”, but ST can just keep the same USS acronym for the internal stuff that nobody sees anyway. Airports don’t change their IATA codes when they rename (see ORD for Chicago O’Hare International Airport, formerly Orchard Field, or MCO for Orlando International Airport, formerly McCoy AFB).

  19. I think making them unique and memorable is the way to go.

    Paris has Opera, not Palais Garnier, even though most performances are probably at Opera Bastille. Grands Boulevards doesn’t say much about location, neither does Bienvenue or Bonne Nouvelle. Yes, there are at least 3 variants of Notre Dame, but that can be forgiven given 300+ stations and Catholic history.

    No special need to reference streets, esp since US streets can go on for miles, and we really don’t want to confuse new people with the N/NE/NW system.

    Symphony, Northgate, UW Stadium/Hospital, Pioneer Sq, International District are fine.

  20. $5 million to re-name a station. I want that contract. Print and post new signs. Put up temporary signs with the old names (temporarily) along side the new signs for a brief time while older printed schedules are still in circulation. Revise the next releases of all bus/train schedules with the new name. Finally, after a transition period, take down any of the transition signs that haven’t already been removed via vandalism. That’s gotta include like, what, 5000% profit?????
    Unless, of course, we need to hold a giant kumbaya chant, six lectures at community colleges and libraries taught by a panel of PhD naming experts, and to issue an 800-page report, to be reviewed by 8 dozen “stakeholders” and revised 14 times.
    What a waste!!!

    1. The signage change is only ~$1 million. the full $5 million is for going through every line of code, documentation, legislation, and emergency plan in the Puget Sound region to find instances of USS/Union Street Station and changing it. And making sure that doesn’t break things.

  21. “Renaming a station that has existed in public for 30 years can be a bad idea.”

    And pleas to rename the station have existed for 30 years too. It died down because King County flatly said no for years and years. Only on the past five years did did King County finally say “Maybe” and ST said “We’ll look into it.” It’s happening now because tunnel ownership switched to ST in the past year for ST2. King County punted the name change issue to ST, and ST decided it must be changed to avoid confusion. There’s a persistent trickle of visitors and occasional riders who see “University” and think it’s the University of Washington, and don’t look at the “Street” part or don’t realize it means “Not UW”. Non-English-speaking riders may be especially confused; they’re looking for the word “University” and there it is.

    The fact that the original university was there and UW still owns the land is a historical detail, and much less important than basic wayfinding. Anybody who knows about the history and is looking for the former site will have “University Street” in their mind.

    “Don’t you think that someone who is looking for the University of Washington will focus just as much on the “Washington” as the “University” part, since anyone with any sense would realize that “University” could be any number of a dozen universities in the city.”

    You don’t understand the role of the University of Washington. It’s a world-famous research university, with tens of thousands of foreign students and faculty and visitors every year, a top-tier football team and medical center, etc. Several times larger and more national/international than any other university in Pugetopolis. People see “University” and think that’s it. Just like “Stadium” station means the biggest concentration of stadiums, “Airport” station means SeaTac, and Chicago’s “Library” station means the main library.

    “Chicago’s L system has five stations named “Western” – including two “Westerns” on the blue line alone”

    I can’t believe you’re holding up the worst mistakes in the country as an example. Many people who see the two Westerns and Ciceros and Damens think “WTF”, year after year.

    “Toronto has “St Clair” and “St Clair West” both on the yellow line.””

    That “West” is a signal that it’s not the main St Clair station. The Yonge/Spadina line does that too, with Yonge having “Lawrence” and Spadina having “Lawrence West”. The “West” is a signal the line is newer or the station is less important. Likewise, “Lake” and “Park” are generic words so people know to look at the other word. But “University” should be the main university, without expecting people to treat “Street” like “West”. If there were a lake or park as famous as the University of Washington, than maybe we’d need to be careful of those words too.

    “Union Street/Symphony” is mediocre and has problems. “Seneca” would probably have been best.

    “And the names refer to neighborhoods rather than where the stations are?”

    Some networks use neighborhood names, some use street names, some use intersections. There’s a widespread tendency to rename neighborhoods after their stations even if there’s a different official name. “Capitol Hill” station is the center of the Capitol Hill urban village; “U-District” station is the center of that urban village, etc. People expect the neighborhood’s principle buildings and plazas to be within a couple blocks of that station. Capitol Hill Station succeeds; Columbia City and Rainier Beach Stations fail.

    The name also refers to the station area to some extent. So Chicago’s “Belmont” station is in Lakeview but there can be a tendency among visitors to think of it as the Belmont neighborhood, and it’s certainly the Belmont station area.

    Seattle is a city of strong neighborhood identiies, and station names like “Capitol Hill”, “U-District”, “Columbia City”, “Northgate”, “Ballard”, etc., were chosen to reinforce it and enhance it.

    In Othello’s case the old neighborhood names (Hillman City or Brighton) had fallen out of use so much that many people nowadays don’t even know then or know their boundaries. And there wasn’t much of a neighborhood before Link. Now Link anchors a growing shopping district in a practically-nameless neighborhood, so ST named it after the street. And now more and more people think of it as “the Othello neighborhood”.

    If Link had closer stop spacing it might have multiple stations in a neighborhood and need names like “Othello North”, “Othello”, and “Othello South”, but it doesn’t for the most part, so there’s generally a 1:1 relationship between stations and neighborhoods, the station is at the center of the pedestrian concentration (ideally), and there’s a widespread desire for station names to the same as the neighborhood names they’re the station for.

    1. Gee, any anecdotal evidence of people getting off at “Stadium” for Husky Stadium?

      People ordinarily do not wayfind using the names of stations without reference to anything else. They use phones, they use maps, they get directions from people. This entire project is coddling to the lowest information traveler. There’s no need.

  22. So in Chicago, you have multiple el lines fanning out from the Loop, and crossing arterial streets. It’s very clear what the major streets are–like Western–so the el stations need to incorporate them in their names. LA uses intersection names like Hollywood/Western, Wilshire/Western, and Expo/Western.

    1. They chose to name the stations after streets; it wasn’t inevitable. And the stations are so close together that there are multiple stations in some neighborhoods, so a neighborhood-naming scheme may not have been feasible. And it was decided a hundred years ago when public expectations, commute patterns, and the el’s role in transportation were different.

      The el somewhat recognizes the problem of duplicate names. The audio announcements on the O’Hare branch add “& Milwaulkie” to some of the names (“Western & Milwaukie”). The signs in the stations are inconsistent, some of the older ones include “& Milwaukie”.

      Los Angeles is the only network I’ve seen that names the stations after intersections with both streets. That’s geographically precise but loses any nostalgia names in the area. Maybe there were no nostalgia names because LA is so boulevard-and-freeway oriented. To me, “Hollywood & Vine” has connotations; “Hollywood/Vermont” and “Hollywood/Highland” don’t. I don’t know if there were underlying names that were suppressed, or if the neighborhood is really known as “Hollywood & Vermont”. When I do hear names they’re entire streets like “Santa Monica Blvd” and “Sunset Strip”. Obviously you can’t name a station after a street that passes through several stations or is parallel to the line unless there’s one best-known location on the street that has the same name.

      I find the LA names boring, but they do make geography easy. I wouldn’t want them here. But as secondary names below the station name, they’s fine. “Shoreline South Station/NE 145th Street & 5th Ave NE”.

  23. My own vote would have been for “Benaroya Hall”, in reference and recognition of the Seattle business community’s component of Jews whose lineage included basically the Ottoman Turkish Empire, which included Spain up ’til the time of Columbus. Remembered in Jewish history as a Golden Age.

    Would have been a powerful cultural and ethnic theme for station designers to start out with off the drawing boards. Not least because its history contains centuries of strong positive links with the other ethnicities around the Mediterranean.

    But all’s far from lost. Symphony Station can still acquire nearby entrances for:

    And pending linguistic concirmation, very minor budget item to have the station name read “Sala Sinfónica”.

    Mark Dublin

  24. I wonder if the reason we’ve having such a hard time naming this station is more of a reflection of poorly defined CBD districts and not a naming issue.

    Metropolitan Tract IMO is the best name for this area. West Edge or Financial District are other names… anything I’m not thinking of?

  25. Got it!

    With modern audio, should be easy to have the system pronounce the station name. And also have passengers hear one composition after another on train PA. Nor should it be that big a deal to have online passenger info let the public know what’ll be played when.

    Also really important gender-justice-wise. “Phillip” has always carried the ring of respectability. But I think LINK can add something really beautiful to the world by showing parents how to spell “Philharmonia” on a birth certificate. Which she’ll likely know how to spell by her first birthday. Also a quality of which no Business District can ever have too much.

    Mark Dublin

  26. The code must be set up with the abbreviations being hard coded to the first letters of the first three words, or something similar. There may not be a dictionary object or function that links the abbreviations to the full name, otherwise the code change should just involve one line. My best guess, anyway.

    Regardless, if it’s $4M to fix the code (so this doesn’t happen again in the future when it’s over $10M to fix!), I’d gladly do it for the low, low price of just $1M.

  27. Name it either Symphony or Seneca as decided my the vote and educate those seeing the USS acronym that it stands for Under Seneca Street or Under Seattle Symphony.

    1. This is exactly what they should be thinking of doing! Who is running this incompetent agency? What a joke

  28. The article’s introduction:
    “having a station named “University Street” and another named “University District” (in addition to a third station named “University of Washington”) will cause confusion”
    is so at odds with the article’s conclusion:
    “ Duplicated or similar station names are not actually a big deal.”
    as to invalidate everything in between and leave the article without a premise. It appears the author has a pet way that they would name all stations (a scheme that others have noted is not an improvement due its complexity, length, ADA non-compliance, and the fact that neighborhoods are better indicators of location than streets). They argued that ink is black to justify switching to their plan, before arguing that ink is white when their plan itself has the original problem.

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