Long Beach asks to have Blue Line's Transit Mall station renamed

Long Beach Transit Mall station renaming report

Nothing earth-shaking here folks, but I know that station renaming is always of moderate to high interest to Source readers. Above is the staff report on the proposal to rename the Blue Line’s Transit Mall station “Downtown Long Beach,” a move that Metro Board Member Don Knabe said he supported at yesterday’s committee meetings.

Supervisor Knabe also offered a motion — which was approved — at yesterday’s Executive Management Committee to have the full Board consider the renaming at next Thursday’s Board meeting.

23 replies

  1. My theory is that using intersection names for stations are used predominately in cities that were previously automobile centric. That’s why it “makes sense” for Los Angeles at least for now to use street intersections because majority of the people grew up memorizing street intersections to get where they are going.

    We grew up in a “drive straight down Wilshire until you hit Normandie” mindset. In contrast, in predominately mass transit cities both here and abroad, they didn’t travel around memorizing street names, they grew up memorizing stations to get where they were going. Over in places like Boston, Washington DC or London where it was mass transit first before automobiles, they memorized how to travel the city by saying “take the Green Line and get off at Fenway” mindset.

  2. Name of intersection is more referred in the US because of the planning and grid street layout started with the public land survey system. Other older cities (like London and Tokyo) did not built on a grid and have many compact neighborhoods.

  3. John Mandel,

    Umm…so you don’t think tourists in London uses maps too?

    You mentioned tourists “nowadays” use smartphones and GPS devices. However, what about foreign tourists? Los Angeles is a top destination not only for American tourists, but for tourists from around the world.

    Have you considered that international data roaming charges for smartphones can be devastatingly expensive for the individual?

    An international roaming charge for data using Google Maps on a smartphone is on average, $15 per 1 MB when using smartphones abroad. If you plan to go anywhere outside the US anytime soon and plan to use your smartphone like you do stateside, be prepared for sticker shock on your cell phone bill upon your return.
    “With T-Mobile Internet, you can access the Internet from locations around the globe—for $10 per MB in Canada and $15 per MB in other countries.”

    This is reciprocally true for foreign tourists to the US. If a Londoner visits Los Angeles, they get dinged with thousands of British Pounds worth of roaming data charges. If you have done any international travel, you’d know that “turn off data feature” on your phone is a must to avoid those charges. Hence, any international traveler to Los Angeles, the smartphone is out of the question.

    Furthermore, street names and intersections being used as train station names are practically the minority when compared to the rest of the world. By far and large, the rest of the world DOES NOT use street names for station names. Therefore, any tourist who lives outside of the US and have traveled through many cities all over the world WILL be confused “by the bejeebers” because the US is the only country using street names for stations, just like how we’re the only country in the world still using miles over kilometers, Farenheit over Celsius, the 12 hour clock instead of the 24 hour clock, and street names for stations over locations.

    If you don’t believe me, all you need to do is Google transit maps from the rest of the world:





    It’s not tradition. It’s the defacto global standard and like everything, the US has to do it backward to the rest of the world. What you may perceive as “modern practicality” is only accepted within the US. The rest of the world, the defacto standard is area names, not station names.

    Google things up first before you make judgments. Consider “well that was just London only. How about other cities? Do they use street names or do they use area names?”

    A simple less than one second Google search provides you with that answer.

  4. I do agree with Long Beach’s wishes. However, I think only certain locations deserve a unique name—Little Tokyo, Chinatown, Universal City being some examples. Unfortunately for Koreatown, it is interspersed among a sprawling area of the city. In other words, there is no “there there.” To name stops after Koreatown would be honorific, but nonsensical for transit purposes.

    I also agree that the suffix “St.” should be added to a number of stations.

    Regarding tourists, commentator LAX uses London as an example. My experience, both personal and observationally, is that LA tourists wander around with street maps in hand and, if they’re very lucky, an up-to-date transit map. These days it’s all about smart phones, GPS and maps. London’s transit system dates well over a hundred years older, and is based more on tradition than modern practicality. All of these proposed station names would confuse the bejeebers out of current tourists to LA.

  5. OTOH, from a tourist perspective which is a very important part of our economy and who are more prone to use public transit, names with intersections are an oddity. Majority of the world, especially where tourism a key sector of the economy, uses area names over intersections.

    Take for example London where they use station names like Hounslow East, South Acton and West Kensington, which logically mean “Eastern part of Hounslow,” “Southern part of Acton” and “Western part of Kensington.”

    What is the likelihood of you, a traveler to London to figure out how to get around London if the above named stations were named Stirling Grove/Kinglsey Rd, All Saints’ Rd/Palmerston Rd, and North End Rd/Beaumont Ave respectively?

    It is easier for the traveler to remember “my hotel is near West Kensington station” rather than “my hotel is in North End Rd/Beaumont Ave Station.” It’s easier for tourist guidebooks to say “take Underground to West Kensington Station to visit this landmark” rather than confusing the traveler with “take Underground to North End Rd/Beaumont Ave Station” which only take up more space and letters in concentrated Tube map of London confusing the heck out of everyone.

    LA is full of districts like Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Thai Town, as well as multiple municipalities within the same county that it makes sense that stations should be named by their location, especially if there are multiple stations within the same region/district/municipality. Eventually, you have to think municipalities like Culver City and Santa Monica will be getting more than one station as the system grows and expands. We’re not going to have just one station named Culver City and Santa Monica, eventually there has to be a compromise to further regionalize the area based on which part of Culver City or Santa Monica that station is in if multiple stations exists within the same municipality.

    LA’s system is growing and we’re going to have more lines in the future. Might as well think ahead at what lies ahead rather than make the same costly mistakes that will cost more money in the future to redo like the honor system fiasco. The inability to think ahead is one of the problems many Angelenos face that end up costing more money to fix later on.

  6. Intersection names are great in Los Angeles. Someone from the west side who only very rarely rides the subway still knows something about the positions of Vermont/Sunset, Vermont/Santa Monica, and Wilshire/Vermont (though they might be confused about Wilshire being south of Santa Monica). And when riding the new Expo Line, it’s immediately obvious what order the stations at Vermont, Western, Crenshaw, La Brea, etc. come in. Some stations should be named after landmarks, like Pershing Square and Civic Center, but even then I find it very useful that the announcments say that they’re at 4th and Hill, and at 1st and Hill respectively, since that’s often what you care about if you’re going somewhere a couple blocks from the station.

  7. I think we should avoid absolute rules when it comes to naming stations.

    I was a huge supporter of having a Little Tokyo Station. The new Regional Connector station will be even more in Little Tokyo than the Gold Line station, and the old name should transfer (perhaps without the Arts District part) to the new station.

    However, there are some stations which are better as street intersections. Hollywood and Vine is famous.

    Ultimately, a neighborhood’s preference should weigh heavily, and if Long Beach wants Downtown Long Beach, the name should be considered — even if I think it ignores nearby 1st Street Station.

  8. I still would like to see “Anaheim” and “San Pedro” renamed to add “St”, so that we don’t think we’ve arrived in the wrong city.

  9. I agree with James Lampert, I would just call it Long Beach transit Mall AND THAT’S IT!!!

  10. I vote to leave most (perhaps not all) stations with their intersection names. I lived in New York for 15 years and LA for 23 years. I quickly and easily identify stops by their intersections–it just makes common sense. Must we now re-program our brains to identify stops with hazy names? Let’s get over politics and agendas and go with what WORKS. If someone asks me where the Wiltern Theater is, I tell them Wilshire/Western–not Koreatown West. This is a silly debate and potential waste of money.

  11. I agree that “Downtown Long Beach Station” would be a better name than “Transit Mall Station.” I believe it is being used as the main Downtown Long Beach station, where all the transit connections are, so it would not cause confusion with the nearby stations, which are named after nearby streets.
    Irwin makes good points about how intersection names should still be used when there is no better-known neighborhood name for that station.
    Finally, I agree with James Lee’s 3rd point that we should not be naming stations after people since it simply lengthens the name without adding clarity to the location of the station. It would be confusing to ask people to transfer from the Red/Purple line to the Blue/Expo lines at Julian Dixon Station.

  12. I was riding the Gold Line today and noticed the train I was on was STILL announcing South Pasadena Station as “Mission Station.” Talk about confusing.

    Even if Metro changes all the signs and posters, they still have to work on updating the announcement system.

  13. The Hollywood/Highland, Hollywood/Vine, Hollywood/Western, Vermont/Sunset, Vermont/Santa Monica, and Vermont/Beverly stations on the Metro Red Line should be renamed as just “Highland”, just “Vine”, just “Western”, just “Sunset”, “Santa Monica/LACC”, and “Beverly Bl”, respectively, like every other station.

  14. Makes perfect sense, way to go Long Beach and Metro. I think the Purple Line station names are fine. I call Wishire/Western “Wiltern” station among friends, and Wilshire/Vermont is just fine. The Expo Line is a bit of a mess if you ask me personally, but i’m sure i’ll get used to it as I ride it more frequently.

  15. Irwin,

    The way things are going with this neighborhood, we might as well call Wilshire/Western as West Koreatown or Koreatown West, or heck even name it “New Koreatown.”

    It has a totally different vibe to it than Wilshire/Normandie (Koreatown Central) or Wilshire/Vermont (East Koreatown or Koreatown East).

  16. Some other stations that need renaming:

    Sierra Madre Villa– everybody who goes there thinks it’s Sierra Madre.
    Anaheim Street– out-of towners find this very confusing
    Lakewood Boulevard– Downey
    Long Beach Boulevard– Lynwood

  17. @James Lee

    I usually support location names as well but only with real neighborhood names in actual use, not made up on like East Koreatown or West Koreatown.

    Intersection name is ok if there is not a better known geographic neighborhood for the location. Hollywood/Highland and Hollywood/Vine work just fine. I think calling them West Hollywood Station (yea, that’s not confusing with the city of West Hollywood…) and East Hollywood would not improve the usefulness of the station names.

    There shouldn’t be an absolutist rule on station names… we should go with whatever makes the most sense.

  18. My previous comment on the subject stands: calling it “Downtown Long Beach” implies that 5th, 1st, and Pacific are *NOT* part of downtown Long Beach (whereas, I would argue that Anaheim, and maybe even PCH are within the boundaries of downtown.

  19. Can we rename Wilshire/Western/Alfred-whatever to Koreatown West too?

    We need a simple pact:

    1. Stations shall not be named after intersections.
    Great name examples: “Little Tokyo Station” and “Culver City Station”
    Bad name examples: “Wilshire/Normandie Station” and “Expo/Vermont”

    2. Stations shall be named after the area, using directional prefixes or suffixes as necessary
    West Koreatown instead of Wilshire/Western
    Koreatown Central instead of Wilshire/Normandie
    East Koreatown instead of Wilshire/Vermont

    3. Ban the use of renaming stations as political rememberances. No more names like “Wilshire/Western/Alfred Hoyun Song station” or even the slightest possibility like “Mayor Antonio Antonio Villaraigosa Line” or “Zev Yarovslavsky Station.”

  20. Makes a ton of sense. The station should be Downtown Long Beach (as the headsigns currently say on “Long Beach” on Blue Line trains). Terminus stations especially make sense for being named after neighborhoods/cities.

    Hopefully the policy is followed at the point where it says the requestor pays for the name change (signage, etc.), so the City of Long Beach should cover the costs.