The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


Boston's MBTA Should Avoid Selling Naming Rights of Subway "T" Stops

Letter Describes Advertising’s Harmful Effects on Developing Children


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) should not move forward with plans to sell corporate naming rights to subway "T" stations, Public Citizen said in a letter sent today to the agency.

Any names attached to public sites and services should reflect history and honor civic virtue - not crass commercialism, the letter said. MBTA's previous attempts to sell naming rights to Boston's T stations have not been successful, and in other cities, transit naming rights have not yielded significant revenues. Whatever MBTA would be able to raise likely would be a drop in the bucket when compared to the reported $150 million deficit the agency faces in fiscal year 2013.

"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?" said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. "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."

Added Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen's Commercial Alert project, "Americans already face a deluge of advertising everywhere they go. In the historic city of Boston, citizens should be shielded from confronting the names of products and brands that not only are a nuisance and drain on our culture, but also are often injurious to our health."

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

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