LOS ANGELES >> In an about face, Metro rescinded its short-lived corporate naming rights policy for train lines, street stations and buildings by a unanimous vote of the governing board Thursday.
The removal of a controversial policy that allowed corporations to pay big bucks to re-name a station or train line overtaking the more organic, geographic name, came as expected after several board members spoke out about the policy since it was approved on Dec. 1, 2016.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board member Sheila Kuehl and Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, both members of the board, argued successfully that the policy was both an example of over corporatization of public facilities and a potential magnet for litigation.
The board approved the more routine naming policy that focuses on a street, neighborhood, city or landmark, striking out the Corporate Sponsorship/Naming Rights Program from its overall advertising policy.
“This is a much smarter policy and I’m glad to see it,” said Bonin.
Kuehl said the transit agency cannot “pick and choose” what entity’s name or logo to slap on a train station or map. Skipping one that may be deemed offensive could lead to lawsuits over a company’s First Amendment rights. Also, choosing an agency or corporation’s name for a station or line that is disagreeable to riders could ruffle feathers or provoke litigation.
“We’ve had a number of people complain to us on the ads on our buses and trains for recruiting border patrol guards. Some people felt it was assaultive. But it’s too bad. You can’t say this agency can advertise and this agency can’t. It is illustrative to what we’ve seen in the larger arena,” Kuehl said on Thursday.
Station names adopted by Metro Thursday for new stations on the under-construction Regional Connector line in downtown Los Angeles are: Little Tokyo/Arts District; Historic Broadway; Grand Ave./Bunker Hill.
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