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Metro looks again to modify station naming policy

Metro plans to revisit its station naming policy yet again, asking board members to steer clear of commercial naming rights and to keep hospitals and colleges out of future names.

The transit agency plans to ask its board on Thursday to settle some disagreements from past discussions about who deserves to have their name immortalized in a station sign.

Metro revamped its rail map this year to make way for the Rush Plus service change, prompting hours of discussion to tweak a handful of names. But the agency already plans to revise the map again in time for the opening of the first segment of the Silver Line, now scheduled by early 2014.

Metro officials, though, don't want to open the agency up to even longer station names like the tongue-tying U-St./African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo stop.

In the last round of changes sought for the recently updated map, some people had wanted to add Holy Cross Hospital to the Forest Glen station name.

At the same time, Gallaudet University pushed to keep its name on the New York Avenue stop.

The historic school for the hearing impaired won its campaign, with the stop becoming NoMa-Gallaudet U, but the hospital and its supporters lost theirs.

But other schools have wanted in on the action, too, including the little-known Chicago School of Professional Psychology that wanted to be added to McPherson Square. Georgetown University wanted to be tacked on to Rosslyn's name, even though the school is across the Potomac River. The university's law school wanted to be added to Judiciary Square.

Now Metro is recommending that no more higher-education institutions be added unless the main campus is within half a mile of the station. But the 11 existing schools, such as Gallaudet, Howard and George Washington, would get to stay.

It also is recommending that hospital names stay out of the station names, designated only with the H symbol, based on the agency's market research. "Riders also indicated that they used a variety of means to determine how to get to a specific hospital and most times, it was not by a Metro map," an agency memo says.

And commercial names are out, too, despite recent efforts elsewhere. Chicago's subway system recently sought to sell naming rights at 11 rail stations. Station sponsorships have been sought in Philadelphia, Madrid and New York.

Metro officials want to continue "station domination" advertising, which is slated to help the agency bring in an estimated $20 million in advertising revenue this year.