"Be creative, but don't be creative." That's the simplified translation of METRORail's guidelines for naming the (already named) light rail transit stations on the forthcoming North, East End and Southeast Lines.
The transit agency opened up the survey to Houston residents in May and the rules were strict: A maximum of 26 characters, no names of persons (living or dead), incorporate nearby landmarks, districts and intersections. And "the fewer words, the better."
"The original names were placeholders, based on geographic location," Jerome Gray, vice president and senior press officer for METRORail, told CultureMap. "We had the intent and the expectation. . . that we could land on some names. All but three came from community input."
METRORail released those community-influenced names this week, revealing an abundance of slashes and an eschewing of the rules of simplicity.
North Line names
On the North Line, the previously-named Northline Transit Center became Northline TC/HCC.
Melbourne became Melbourne/North Lindale.
Graceland became Lindale Park.
Cavalcade and Moody Park stayed the same, but Boundary completely changed over to Fulton/North Central.
Quitman became Quitman/Near Northside, and Burnett Transit Center added on to become Burnett TC/Casa de Amigos.
East End Line names
There were more slashes in the changes to station names on the East End Line: York is now Coffee Plant/Second Ward (a nod to the Maximus Coffee Group factory, formerly the headquarters of Maxwell House Coffee).
Lockwood became Lockwood/Eastwood.
The Cesar Chavez stop became Cesar Chavez/67th St. (Looks like the "no name" rule was bent again because Cesar Chavez was already a Houston street named in honor of the farm worker labor leader.)
Southeast Line names
The Southeast Line boasts still more: The Bastrop station near the new Dynamo stadium became EaDo/Stadium (no mention of BBVA/Compass in there, despite the concession for commercial naming rights in the rules).
Leeland became Leeland/Third Ward and Elgin became Elgin/Third Ward, making for possible confusion.
Scott/Cleburn, a pretty clear intersection, became a convoluted Robertson Stadium/UH/TSU. Yet it leaves no doubt you're near a college campus.
Wheeler/MLK became UH/University Oaks, and MacGregor Park became MacGregor Park/MLK.
What do you think? Do the new names make the stops seem more clear or more confusing?