They can also help put a place on the map. With Phase One of the Silver Line to Dulles opening in 2013, it's time to name the new stops.
But that has caused a bit of a flap over what to call the station near the current Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride.
The town of Herndon lobbied the Fairfax County Board of supervisors to name that station, simply, "Herndon."
Instead, a compromise was proposed: the "Herndon-Reston West" station. Board member Mike Frey argued for the single "Herndon" designation, reasoning, "Herndon is the only incorporated town on the line. To me, the simplest name is Herndon Station."
But Reston-area supervisor Cathy Hudgins tried to flip the names, putting Reston first.
Both failed in their attempts.
In the end, the Fairfax Board will ask the Metro Board to add these station names to the future Silver Line: Tysons-McLean, Tysons I&II, Tysons Central, Tysons-Spring Hill Road, Reston-Wiehle Avenue, Reston Town Center, Herndon-Reston West and Herndon-Dulles East.
The Dulles Airport station is not in Fairfax County, so the county board did not have a say in what official name that will receive.
All of the Fairfax Board name recommendations are subject to the Metro Board's approval. There was no immediate timetable for a decision.