Welcome to Walmart Station

It really was silly season at the TTC yesterday.  Commissioner Peter Milczyn asked for a report on naming rights for stations in return for corporate sponsorship.  A short debate ensued during which the Commissioners seemed to forget that barely an hour earlier they had approved a report entitled TTC Corporate Policy Review – Policy 2.8.2 Identification of Routes, Stations and Stops.  This report states quite clearly:

Normally, the station name will incorporate the name of the major cross-street at which it is located, so that the location of the station is clearly identified to customers as they travel through the system. If this is not possible (because, for example, confusion would result with existing station names, or because there is no major nearby cross-street), then the station name may be related to the area in which the station is located, or a major destination nearby.

A good example of the last class of station name is “Museum”.

I have a fundamental objection to corporate sponsorships on the basis of equity.  If you want to build a subway station, it will cost anywhere from $70-100 million, and even more for a large terminal or interchange, not to mention ongoing operating costs.  If Pepsi or Walmart wants to sponsor a station, let them shell out at least 2/3 of the cost so that, on an after tax basis, they’re paying at least half the price of the station. 

Meanwhile, you and I, who actually pay for the station through our taxes should expect that naming rights will stay in the public sector.

No sponsor wants to shell out $35-50 million, and they hope to buy a station for a few million.  For that they get a couple of escalators.   Maybe they could actually pay to maintain the escalators so that their logo isn’t associated with a machine sitting in parts all over the floor more often than it actually carries passengers.