Sunday, June 25, 2017

Still Life with Robin: For Truth and Brevity on the Metro

by Peggy Robin

Photo by Ralf Roletschek (via Creative Commons)
Metro has announced that it’s changing the name of the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station to Foggy Bottom-GWU-Kennedy Center. Long enough for ya?

At 27 letters, it’s not as long as U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo (45 letters). Or Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter (31 letters). But it’s two letters longer than Woodley Park-Zoo-Adams Morgan. Still, that’s not why I object to the name-change. It’s a bad idea because it’s misleading. When you get out at Foggy Bottom-GWU, you’re not at the Kennedy Center. You are more than two-thirds of a mile away. And it’s not an easy walk! (Especially not if you’re dressed up to go to the opera.) You’ll be crossing major arterials, cutting across a traffic circle, and then hiking up something of a hill before you reach those red-carpeted halls. That’s why there’s that Kennedy Center Shuttle Bus. Of course, it runs just every quarter hour. And it’s so slow and cumbersome, you might be able to beat it on foot – if you’re not in high heels!

While it makes no sense to me to slap the Kennedy Center name on a Metro station that’s a bus-ride away, it must make sense to the people who run the Metro. But consider that these are the same people who call the Woodley Park station both “Zoo” and “Adams Morgan,” when it’s half a mile from the Metro to the entrance to the Zoo – all up hill – and it’s two-thirds of a mile from the Metro to 18th and Columbia Road. If you are bound and determined to Metro to the Zoo, you’re better off getting out at Cleveland Park – it’s just four-tenths of a mile to the Zoo entrance, and it’s flat all the way. As for getting to Adams Morgan….the Metro doesn’t go there. I suggest Uber or Lyft.

When it comes to renaming Metro stations, I say let’s take OFF any excess names. Shorten the letter count, and stick with geographic accuracy. If you can’t see the named building or tourist attraction as you exit the station, and you still can’t see it after you’ve walked three blocks, then DON'T call the station by that name. It just fools the tourists. Then they get mad at our city and its citizens because they think we're a city of liars. Metro, that hurts your budget in the long run.

If you insist on going ahead with this plan to add the Kennedy Center to Foggy Bottom-GWU, at least tell the truth about it. Put it this way: Foggy Bottom-GWU-Kennedy Center Shuttle Bus Stop. Oh, but now the station name is 41 letters long. And that violates another principle I would like to see adopted for station names – a 25 character maximum!

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on weekends.

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