Riders board a Link light rail train at University Street Station in downtown Seattle.
Media Caption
Riders board a Link light rail train at University Street Station, which will soon be renamed.

Help pick a new name for University Street Station

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Sound Transit wants your help choosing a new name for University Street Station. 

The Link light rail station located in downtown Seattle — and not four miles north at the University of Washington — has a bit of a confusing name. 

Or as a Sound Transit staff memo more stiffly put it, “Based on Resolution R2012-02, this station name is in conflict with our criteria for station naming.” 

There are five criteria for Sound Transit station names: 

  1. Association with a nearby street or with surrounding neighborhood names or landmarks
  2. Be brief and easy to remember
  3. Be no more than 30 characters, per ADA requirements
  4. Avoid commercial references 
  5. Avoid similar names of existing stations

That last criteria is the kicker because today we run light rail to University Street and University of Washington stations. 

And in 2021 we will open U District Station as part of the light rail extension to Northgate.

So it’s time to make the change. 

There are six contenders for the new name.

Two location-based options: 

  • Seneca Street 
  • Midtown

Three culturally-based options:

  • Arts District 
  • Downtown Arts District
  • Symphony 

One landmark-based option: 

  • Benaroya Hall

Take the online survey and find out about upcoming opportunities to let us know your favorite.

How did we get here, and what happens next? 

In all fairness, University Street Station came first, opening as part of the former bus tunnel in 1990. 

University Street itself (the street, not the station) got its name because the University of Washington owns a large chunk of nearby land. A nice piece of trivia, but it doesn’t exactly help riders find the actual university campus. 

In the past, we didn’t have the authority to rename the station because we didn’t own it. But now as we take over downtown Seattle’s Link stations from King County Metro, we’ve resolved to correct this moniker mishap. 

We’re at step two of a multi-step process to select a new station name. 

A graphic shows the timeline of the University Street Station renaming process: station name options April-August 2019, public comment September 2019, board decision December 2019-early 2020 and name change in 2021.

 

In step one, ST staff used the criteria to come up with a batch of recommended names. 

During step two, from September 9-30, we are asking for feedback on the options from riders, stakeholders, businesses and community members. 

In step three, we report the results of the survey to our Board of Directors and they select the final name late this year or early 2020. 

The name change will officially happen in 2021 when we open three new stations at Northgate, Roosevelt and the U District.

Thank you for your help. We look forward to reporting back on the new name. 

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