Washington metro ready to dump long station names

For tourists and commuters alike in Washington, the names of the city's metro stations are a bit of a mouthful.

U Street/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo, Mt Vernon Sq/7th St-Convention Center, and New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U do not exactly roll off the tongue, but officials say that will soon change.

Over the next year, officials will work to clip the names to make it easier for travelers - and to conform to long-standing guidelines.

"The shorter, the better," Dan Stessel, a spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, told AFP.

The decision was made "for simplicity, for people for whom English is not their first language, for our international guests - in this world of Twitter and its 140 characters... it makes sense," he said.

The transit authority is taking advantage of work on two of the city's five metro lines to kickstart the project, as new maps will need to be printed.

Stations will now be known by their shortened names of no more than 19 characters - U Street, Mt Vernon Sq or New York Ave. The longer names will be printed below in a smaller font.

Stations with transfer points must have names of 13 characters or less, with one exception - Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

"The airport name is part of federal legislation - we can't change that," Stessel said.

Washington's first metro line opened in 1976. The system, which has 106 miles (170 kilometers) of track, saw a total of 217.2 million passenger trips in fiscal year 2010, according to the transit authority's website.

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