What’s in a transit hub name? Function before form

Good morning, readers.

Nearly 600 people have completed an online survey this week asking DART’s riders to rank the eight possible new names for the soon-to-be-built transit hub. The candidates:

  • Cherry Street Central Station
  • Cherry Street Transit Center
  • Cherry Street Transit Connector
  • Cherry Street Transit Hub
  • DART Central Station
  • DART Transit Center
  • DART Transit Hub
  • Downtown Transit Center

The deadline to complete the survey is today. If you haven’t completed it yet, please take a minute to do so:

www.surveymonkey.com/s/newtransithubname

Your editor of The Bus Blog has been privy to the results as they come in. A couple of the names are emerging as favorites, but I’ll wait until next week to report on the results so as not to mess with the survey before the deadline has passed.

I will address some of the comments now, however. More than one of those surveyed said the choices were all bland and lacking originality. Some complained that the choices for being too similar to one another and they wished there were more creative choices from which to choose.

Fair criticisms, both, although I for one happen to like some of the finalists.

There were a lot of clever suggestions that weren’t selected as finalists. One was “Cherub,” which is a mash-up of Cherry Street and Transit Hub. Another was “BOB,” for its simplicity. Others made plays on words, such as “The Cherry Pit” and “The DART Board” (the latter of which is the name of the agency newsletter).

But none made the list of finalists, for one simple reason: If you heard the name and you weren’t in the know, you would have little clue what kind of facility it was referring to.  “The Cherry Pit” sounds more like a dive bar than it does a transit facility. And “Bob”? Reminds me of an uncle.

I don’t mean to trash these suggestions — they were very creative, indeed. But we have to remember what it is we’re naming. This will be the primary public transit facility in Greater Des Moines, and its name needs to reflect that, not only to regular riders but to visitors, as well.

Any of the eight finalists passes this crucial test.  Which of them is the most creative — or, if you rather, the least boring — is what we’re attempting to gauge with the survey.

I’m looking forward to seeing the total results and meeting next week with the Transit Riders Advisory Committee, which will be recommending a favorite to the DART Commission. So stay tuned — we’ll have a new name shortly.

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