Public Citizen Objects to Selling Naming Rights to Public Transport

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December 21, 2011; Source: Common DreamsNPQ has for the past few years been tracking the flow of private money into public systems. Of course there are many schemes designed by public systems to attract private investment in infrastructure and one is the selling of naming rights to public installations. Many have been concerned about such strategies in that the installations are still primarily supported publicly while named for a corporation. Now Public Citizen, a Washington based nonprofit that is aimed at protecting communities from commercialism, is objecting to the fact that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is investigating the strategy of selling naming rights for public transportation stops to corporations. Its statement reads in part as follows:

“The sale of corporate naming rights to T stations will force citizens to pronounce the name of corporations in order to describe their destination or location. With each utterance of whatever corporation chooses to pay for this privilege, transit-takers are compelled to promote the brands of products and services. Which corporations will co-opt citizens into their advertising schemes? Will it be ones that contribute to marketing-related diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and smoking related illnesses? Or will subway riders travel to stations named for corporate felons, big business cheats, or major polluters? When a public service is named for a commercial interest, the city is explicitly endorsing the products or services associated with that name. These long term ethical and social concerns must take precedence over the desire for a quick buck.”

The study that is being done on the proposition will not be done for two years and in 2013 the MCTA will be facing a $150 million deficit. – Ruth McCambridge