Metro might sell naming rights to its stations. Any buyers out there?

The Washington Post
Fredrick Kunkle

Some Metro leaders think it’s time to start selling naming rights to its subway stations because of the agency’s worsening financial plight. But whether any company would risk its good name on the subway is another question.

The idea arose Thursday as Metro officials described the system’s dire financial situation — sort of like being in a state approaching free fall with the word “bankruptcy” painted on the ground below.

With ridership falling, largely because of SafeTrack’s massive and costly rebuilding plan, the agency is looking at a $125 million hole this fiscal year. It anticipates a shortfall of $290 million in the next. Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld warned that all the one-off tricks to balance the books will soon be exhausted.

“This structural financial issue is getting to a point where we just can’t get much further,” Wiedefeld said.

So it was that Tom Bulger, who represents the District on the Metro board, said that the time had come to consider “draconian revenue enhancements.” He said that he had asked staff to look into the possibility of selling naming rights, along the lines of what Los Angeles is doing. In December, L.A.’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved the sale of naming rights of practically every part of the city’s transit system, the Los Angeles Times said.

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