More mass transit agencies consider selling station naming rights

Caught in a budget squeeze as cash-strapped cities withhold funding, many mass transit authorities are selling naming rights for stations to corporate sponsors.

Caught in a budget squeeze as cash-strapped cities withhold funding, many mass transit authorities are turning to selling naming rights for stations to corporate sponsors.

The practice has been in place for years with sports and entertainment arenas. Now, many destinations within mass transit systems may bear corporate logos.

A new report says Washington DC's Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering selling naming rights to its Metro subways stations as a way to help close a $72 million budget gap.

In November, the Chicago Transit Authority announced it was selling station naming rights to prospective sponsors. How about the Apple Lincoln Park Station?  Not a reality yet, but Apple recently provided $4 million to renovate the authority's formerly dilapidated Lincoln Park station near a new store.

In New York, a major stop in Brooklyn has been re-commissioned as Atlantic Avenue Pacific Street-Barclays Center Station, after a sponsorship agreement with Barclays Bank, which also sponsors a new sports arena at the location. The city's transit authority "says it is open to any naming agreements that can raise revenue for its transit system," according to a New York Times article.

Philadelphia now has AT&T Station at the end of its Broad Street subway line, thanks to a $3 million sponsorship deal with AT&T.

In the Miami area as well, Miami-Dade Transit talked about opening up corporate sponsorship of its downtown Metromover skyway stations for up to $40,000 a piece to add revenues.

Some observers worry that rebranding transit stops may put the systems out of touch with the communities they server, and even cause confusion among riders. But at a time when there's no blood left to be squeezed from state and local government stones, the authorities see corporate naming rights as an opportunity to help close yawning budget gaps.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com