Housing Complex

Transit Lines Shouldn’t Be Named After Political Slogans

A proposed version of the car barn, branded.

There's a lot to like in the H Street/Benning Road Streetcar line, newly captured in virtual reality. The District Department of Transportation explained its plans last night for a car barn next to Spingarn High School that would train people how to maintain the vehicles, as well as three power substations that you'll hardly even notice. Once the line's up and running, they're going to have to call it something.

But the "One City Line," as they're now calling the route that will eventually extend from Benning Road to Washington Circle? * Give me a break.

There are three main problems with that moniker.

One: It says nothing about where the line starts and ends. Sure, neither do Metro's colors, but the move in recent years has been towards more useful naming systems, like the Circulator's different routes. D.C. residents may know what the H Street/Benning Road/K Street line is after years of watching it get built, but a tourist who's looking for things to do from Union Station will have no idea where the "One City" line will take them.

Two: There's no way to build a system of names out from that beginning. What's the logical name for the one up Georgia Avenue, or out on Rhode Island Avenue? Will they also be named after nebulous concepts?

Three: The most distasteful thing about the "One City" tagline is that, as much as Mayor Vince Gray would like to say otherwise, the phrase is still a political slogan. It's what he campaigned on, and it's how he'd like people to think about his legacy. But Gray can't even claim credit for making the streetcar happen. Although he's been a stalwart supporter since he came into office, his predecessors were really the ones who kicked it off—let's not forget, Gray would have cut funding for construction entirely had last-minute political pressure not forced him to restore it. Pinning the first operational streetcar line to a mayor's political ascent—especially when that rise could be cut short by an all-too-serious investigation—is unfair and shortsighted.

So please, please, please think of something else.


CLARIFICATION, 11:13 a.m. - "One City" is a working title that would apply to the entire line from Benning Road to Washington Circle, not just the Benning Road/H Street segment, as the post initially stated.

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  • Simon

    It's called the "one city line" because it is, and will always be, the one line in the city.

  • x

    The "One City Line" isn't the proposed name for the H/Benning Line that's being built now. It's the name for the entire build-out of that line - from the Georgetown Waterfront on the west to the Minnesota Ave Metro on the east - that will eventually encompass the H/Benning Line. THAT line hasn't even begun planning stages yet, but it will become the main east-west connection through the city, making it... ahem... "one city."

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  • Dee-Pillis

    A street car line that stretches across the city does not a unified city make. It's a slogan, and a fraudulent, expedient attempt at a legacy--much like moving the beloved Redskins back to RFK. I think Lydia's right on the money.

  • TM

    I actually like the idea of going with proper named lines. It's not something you see much in the US, but the London Underground does well with it. We've run out of primary and secondary colors. We've already designated silver. I guess we could go with gold, although without reflective paint, what's gold except yellow or orange?

    Giving the streetcar a totally different naming system from Metro and the bus would help distinguish it.

    But yeah, "One City" is pretty awful for all the reasons you give plus it lends itself a little too easily to getting called One Shitty Line.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_t_in_dc/ Mr T in DC

    AGreed, the "One City Line" is stupid, gimmicky, and most importantly, NOT DESCRIPTIVE of the location of the streetcar line, or either terminus.If more streetcar lines are planned, what will those be called? Hopefully this will be a one-term mayor and the next administration will reverse this lame decision, and hopefully not have to spend a ton of money in redoing the signage.

  • InTheMixx

    How about the "snotty progressive" line

  • InTheMixx

    In DC there are "progressives" and then there are "snotty progressives", those that work for the CP and WP and their followers. From it's inception it is the "snots" that have been the most negative element in the streetcar program.

  • recyclist

    "One City Line" is fine. Then the next line will be "Two City Line".

  • Tom M.

    "One (indicted) City". It would be the Orange (Jumpsuit) Line....

  • InTheMixx

    Or better, how bout the "Poorly Planned" Line?

  • East_H

    Yeah the name is silly, but it hints at real backing from the Gray administration, and it will probably never be widely used. If this is the worst news coming out of last night's meeting, great. No delays, no fatal land usage issues, concrete locations for the car barn and substations-- lots of positives to report in addition to the name quibbles.

  • WE

    I've always been fond of naming the lines after US presidents. You could brand each line using the Nationals Racing Presidents mascots!

  • Bert

    "'One (indicted) City'. It would be the Orange (Jumpsuit) Line...."

    "Orange Jumpsuit" is how Councilmember Vince will soon be known. He was just "shocked, shocked" to discover he'd received all those serially-numbered money orders.

  • BW

    "One City Line" is horrible.

    How about simply using letters? And while at it, assign the same letters to the Circulator buses.

    Advantages of this approach:

    1) It's distinct from Metrorail (colors) and Metrobus (largely numbers or letter/number combos)
    2) It builds on the same colors/graphics scheme being applied to DC's local transportation systems, and by using letters it further unifies the circulator and streetcar systems into a cohesive system.
    3) Current Circulator routes can keep the same letter designation when they are eventually replaced with rail.

    Or, if the administration wishes to engage the community (isn't that part of the "One City" platform?), then conduct a public poll in the same manner that WMATA / Fairfax recently conducted with regard to naming the future Silver Line stations.

  • DT

    These comments are made by a bunch of bitch asses.

    It's just a freaking name that inspires to unite the city you whiny, picky wanna-be-urban-designing dumb asses

    Get a life (and a job)!

  • er

    it should be called Herb.

  • tom veil

    Let's call it the Shoe City Line, since it will go past both the Benning/Minnesota Shoe City and the 7&H NE Shoe City.