Here are the weirdest & most aggravating station names on the Tyne & Wear Metro

A Metro train at Monument. Image: Callum Cape/Wikipedia.

Editor’s note: On Twitter, after publishing yet another rant about London station names, I noted that I would be delighted to publish similar rants about other cities, if only anyone thought to send them to me. One hero stepped forward.

1. West Jesmond

There are two Metro stops in this suburb – Jesmond, and West Jesmond. Here’s a map of the two:

Image: Open Street Map.

In the name of accuracy, I’m petitioning to either have Jesmond renamed “South Jesmond”, or West Jesmond renamed “North-by-North-by-Northwest Jesmond”.

2. University

Which university? Newcastle University, student population 23,700? No, that’s at Haymarket.

Northumbria University, student population, 27,200? No, that’s also at Haymarket (or Four Lane Ends, if you want the out-of-town campus).

University of Sunderland, student population 13,000? Yes! Well, sort of. The Sunderland City Campus is at University – but the St Peter’s Campus is at St Peter’s.

So if you’re heading to a university on Tyne & Wear, statistically speaking you almost certainly do not want University Metro station.

3. Central

Central is the Metro station that connects to Newcastle railway station, so its name makes some sense. The only problem is it’s not really central to anything – nor is it the central interchange on the Metro network.

The network map. Image: Nexus Tyne & Wear.

If you want central Newcastle – or any destination towards North Shields – you should head to Monument, the next station along and a fair walk uphill from Central.

4. Percy Main

I was going to give this one a pass, since although there’s nothing “Main” about it, Percy Main is also a (weirdly-named) village. But I looked it up on Wikipedia and it tells me the village “is named after the Duke of Northumberland's railway station, Percy Main”.

So it’s a railway station, named after a village, named after a railway station, owned by a guy called Percy, who apparently had so many stations he needed to note which was his main one. This is a dangerous level of recursion.

(UPDATE: The internet tells us that this one is actually named after the Main coal seam. The things you learn.)


5. Tyne Dock

This one is a relic of history, but one that’s potentially disastrous for tourists. There was once a huge port at Tyne Dock (part of South Shields), but much of it was filled in in the 1980s and today it’s just warehouses.

The passenger terminal of the Port of Tyne, which is where the ferry to Amsterdam departs from, is actually on the other side of the river. The port is really badly connected to the Metro network anyway, so I wouldn’t try it unless you fancy a mile-long walk down a dual carriageway.

6. Four Lane Ends

I like the quaintness of this one, but there’s no getting away from the fact those four lanes are now two busy A-roads and they don’t so much “end” as “cross each other”.

7. Bank Foot

It’s at the foot of a bank I guess? It used to be called Kenton Bank, but for some reason when they inaugurated the Metro they deleted the useful word “Kenton” – the village it’s actually near – and added the useless word “Foot”.

It’s a pointless station – it used to be where the shuttle bus to the airport went from, but now there’s an extension right up to the airport terminal so the remotely-placed Bank Foot serves no real purpose. It’s the fourth least-used on the network, and frankly I’m surprised it’s even that high.

Anyway, it’s the only Tyne and Wear Metro station that could be clearly and unambiguously signposted in emoji.

8. Hadrian Road

A classic example of the problems with naming a station after a road. Hadrian Road is a fairly long road along the north bank of the Tyne, mostly lined with industrial units. And there are two, maybe three stations on it: Hadrian Road, Wallsend and arguably Howdon.

If you actually had to use Hadrian Road station, you probably wouldn’t approach it from Hadrian Road anyway, but from the housing estate to the north. That said, few people do have to use Hadrian Road: it has the third fewest passengers of any station on the network.

9. Stadium of Light

Pretty self explanatory, right? It’s the station for Sunderland FC’s home ground, the Stadium of Light.

Except it’s not, if you’re actually from Sunderland. To prevent overcrowding on match days, the Stadium of Light station is only meant to be used by fans travelling from Newcastle and other northern stations. Those coming from stations to the south – an area which includes most of Sunderland – should use St Peter’s, which is actually slightly closer to the stadium anyway, instead.

That said, the fact that St Peter’s is the least-used station on the entire network suggests Sunderland fans don’t take that rule entirely seriously.


10. Byker

Not a problem in itself, but whenever the announcement comes on, you can be pretty sure some out-of-town idiot will sing, “Byker, Byker, Byker Grove!” in cod-Geordie. (Full disclosure: I have definitely been this idiot.)

Honourable mention: MetroCentre

It's not a Metro station but a normal railway station, which is precisely what makes it so confusing.

Things used to be worse: until 1993 it was called "Gateshead Metro Centre", which given the fact it's connected by bus to both Gateshead Metro station and Central Metro station all sounds like the set-up to a terrible "Who's on first?" joke.

If the extension plans go ahead, this will eventually be part of the actual Metro network. I'm not sure if that will result in any less confusion.

Stephen Jorgenson-Murray tweets as @stejormur.

If you would like to complain about the names of stations in your city, you know where we are.

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Self-driving cars may be safe – but they could still prevent walkable, liveable communities

A self-driving car, driving itself. Image: Grendelkhan/Flickr/creative commons.

Almost exactly a decade ago, I was cycling in a bike lane when a car hit me from behind. Luckily, I suffered only a couple bruised ribs and some road rash. But ever since, I have felt my pulse rise when I hear a car coming up behind my bike.

As self-driving cars roll out, they’re already being billed as making me – and millions of American cyclists, pedestrians and vehicle passengers – safer.

As a driver and a cyclist, I initially welcomed the idea of self-driving cars that could detect nearby people and be programmed not to hit them, making the streets safer for everyone. Autonomous vehicles also seemed to provide attractive ways to use roads more efficiently and reduce the need for parking in our communities. People are certainly talking about how self-driving cars could help build more sustainable, livable, walkable and bikable communities.

But as an urban planner and transportation scholar who, like most people in my field, has paid close attention to the discussion around driverless cars, I have come to understand that autonomous vehicles will not complement modern urban planning goals of building people-centered communities. In fact, I think they’re mutually exclusive: we can have a world of safe, efficient, driverless cars, or we can have a world where people can walk, bike and take transit in high-quality, human-scaled communities.

Changing humans’ behavior

These days, with human-driven cars all over the place, I choose my riding routes and behavior carefully: I much prefer to ride on low-speed traffic, low-traffic roads, buffered bike lanes or off-street bike paths whenever possible, even if it means going substantially out of my way. That’s because I’m scared of what a human driver – through error, ignorance, inattention or even malice – might do to me on tougher roads.

But in a hypothetical future in which all cars are autonomous, maybe I’ll make different choices? So long as I’m confident self-driving cars will at least try to avoid killing me on my bike, I’ll take the most direct route to my destination, on roads that I consider much too dangerous to ride on today. I won’t need to worry about drivers because the technology will protect me.

Driverless cars will level the playing field: I’ll finally be able to ride where I am comfortable in a lane, rather than in the gutter – and pedal at a comfortable speed for myself rather than racing to keep up with, or get out of the way of, other riders or vehicles. I can even see riding with my kids on roads, instead of driving somewhere safe to ride like a park. (Of course, this is all still assuming driverless cars will eventually figure out how to avoid killing cyclists.)

To bikers and people interested in vibrant communities, this sounds great. I’m sure I won’t be the only cyclist who makes these choices. But that actually becomes a problem.

The tragedy of the commons

In the midsize midwestern college town I call home, estimates suggest about 4,000 people commute by bike. That might not sound like many, but consider the traffic backups that would result if even just a few hundred cyclists went out at rush hour and rode at leisurely speeds on the half-dozen arterial roads in my city.

Technology optimists might suggest that driverless cars will be able to pass cyclists more safely and efficiently. They might also be directed to use other roads that are less clogged, though that carries its own risks.

But what happens if it’s a lovely spring afternoon and all those 4,000 bike commuters are riding, in addition to a few thousand kids and teenagers running, riding or skating down my local roads? Some might even try to disrupt the flow of traffic by walking back and forth in the road or even just standing and texting, confident the cars will not hit them. It’s easy to see how good driverless cars will enable people to enjoy those previously terrifying streets, but it also demonstrates that safety for people and efficiency for cars can’t happen at the same time.


People versus cars

It’s not hard to imagine a situation where driverless cars can’t get anywhere efficiently – except late at night or early in the morning. That’s the sort of problem policy scholars enjoy working on, trying to engineer ways for people and technology to get along better.


One proposed solution would put cars and bicycles on different areas of the streets, or transform certain streets into “autonomous only” thoroughfares. But I question the logic of undertaking massive road-building projects when many cities today struggle to afford basic maintenance of their existing streets.

An alternative could be to simply make new rules governing how people should behave around autonomous vehicles. Similar rules exist already: Bikes aren’t allowed on most freeways, and jaywalking is illegal across most of the U.S.

Regulating people instead of cars would be cheaper than designing and building new streets. It would also help work around some of the technical problems of teaching driverless cars to avoid every possible danger – or even just learning to recognize bicycles in the first place.

However, telling people what they can and can’t do in the streets raises a key problem. In vibrant communities, roads are public property, which everyone can use for transportation, of course – but also for commerce, civil discourse and even civil disobedience. Most of the U.S., however, appears to have implicitly decided that streets are primarily for moving cars quickly from one place to another.

There might be an argument for driverless cars in rural areas, or for intercity travel, but in cities, if driverless cars merely replace human-driven vehicles, then communities won’t change much, or they may become even more car-dependent. If people choose to prioritise road safety over all other factors, that will shift how people use roads, sidewalks and other public ways. But then autonomous vehicles will never be particularly efficient or convenient.

The Conversation

Daniel Piatkowski, Assistant Professor of Community and Regional Planning, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.