Thursday afternoon Sound Transit's rider experience and operations committee voted to rename the University Street Station "Union Street/Symphony Station" as part of a compromise to save money and carry out the will of the people. The recommendation now heads to full board for a vote.
The committee vote comes a day after the transit authority released the results of a public survey showing that people wanted to change the station's name to "Symphony Station," beating out the next closest option, "Benaroya Hall," by 1%. While considering the public's feedback, Sound Transit's implementation team discovered a little issue with simply swapping "University Street" for "Symphony."
It turns out the light rail's emergency alert systems, fire control panels, emergency ventilation systems, etc., use the acronym "USS" in reference to the station. Making the requisite changes in manuals, software, and signage would cost, the agency estimated, up to $5.3 million. Changing the name to "Union Street / Symphony Station," however, would more or less preserve the acronym and only cost 1/5 as much to implement. Board members patted themselves on the back for their apparent frugality, and even joked about broader possibilities for the new name.
“I think Union Street Symphony would make a great name for a rock band,” said Sound Transit board vice-chair Paul Roberts, an Everett City Council Member.
While this renaming decision appears to make financial sense, I can't help but notice a few things.
1. Union Street Symphony Station would not make a good rock and roll band name because rock and roll is dead, Paul. The "S" sounds pile up on each other and it's too hard to say. Hey, Paul. Paullll??? You. Have. No. Good. Light Rail. Ideas.
2. Union Street / Symphony Station could be a little more confusing than simply going with Symphony Station because the station doesn't actually have a Union Street exit. Though Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff denigrated the people's choice by saying that "Symphony" presented a wayfinding challenge if riders didn't know where the symphony was located, I'm not sure that adding a street you can't access from the station helps with that. Also, many of the stops on the light rail refer to landmarks—Westlake, Stadium, etc—all of which present the same "wayfinding challenge." Moreover, people exiting Union Street / Symphony Station might think they're close to Union Station, which they would not be.
3. Not to be picking nits here, but here wouldn't the new acronym be USSS and not USS? Will Sound Transit have to pay some contractor six figures to go around with a marker adding extra "S's" to manuals and electrical panels just to avoid the mind-breaking confusion of an inexact acronym?? If you're going to reject the will of the people, Sound Transit, just go with Union Street Station and save us the trouble and the longer signs.
4. Also, you're telling me that you put a bunch of smart people in a room, came up with six new station names, ran a big ass survey, announced a new name, and THEN checked with your implementation team to see if it would work? Who the fuck is running this show, PAUL?!
5. In conclusion, here's a counter proposal from the Stranger's Charles Mudede. Scrap all this Union Street / Symphony Station backflipping and name it Tim Eyman Station. There's not enough trolling in our municipal naming. We need to get with the times.