Chicago Seeks Corporate Sponsors For Public Transit

Imagine giving public transit directions to your urban home in the future. “Oh, yeah, you take the Target Red Line, transfer at Comcast Station to the Apple Gray Line headed Fox Sports Westbound, and finally get off at Taco Bell Station.” Seem crazy? Well, you have to name transit stations something, and both Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority are exploring the idea of selling naming rights to stations. They’re not the first city to do this.

Any new names for Metra stations would include the old station name — the town, neighborhood or address — with the corporate or organization name added on, said Metra executive director Philip Pagano.

“I’m not sure whether (the old name) is first or second, but definitely it’s going to have to be there,” he said.

Several mass transit systems — such as those in New York and Boston — have sought to sell naming rights to transit stations. In 2008, the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals agreed to pay the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to rename a high-profile bus route the “HealthLine,” according to news reports.

Is this a good solution to transit budget shortfalls?