According to Zachary Schrag’s famous book about Metro history, The Great Society Subway, the planners originally in charge of naming stations were told to keep it simple. In fact, says Schrag, the rule of thumb at the time was for no stations to be longer than two words.

Obviously with names like U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo WMATA has moved away from that principle in recent years. These days many of the stations in the system are appended with some sort of slash-this or dash-something.

Sometimes the change has made sense. The federal government mandated that Reagan be added to National Airport, after all. A great many of the new names aren’t all that useful though.

Do we really need to know, for example, that students attending George Mason University sometimes use the Vienna station? GMU’s campus is over 5 miles from Vienna. The station does not directly serve the university. The name doesn’t have to be there.

At the same time, some stops could use a re-branding. When Dunn Loring opened, it was envisioned as a park and ride serving commuters living in the Dunn Loring residential area north of the stop. The way things worked out, most of the riders using the station are actually going or coming from the Merrifield commercial/industrial area south of the stop. The station originally called Dunn Loring would now be better named Merrifield.

It seems a good time to look at the whole system. The map below illustrates a possible station renaming scheme. In some cases I renamed stations that are too long, or have too many acronyms attached at the end. In other cases I renamed to focus on a specific neighborhood or landmark. Where possible I’ve tried to stick to the two word maximum, but in a case or two have gone to three.

On the map gray station names are unchanged while black ones are those that have been modified.

Click to enlarge.

Have your own ideas? Share them in the comments.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.