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An illustration showing the different signs that will be part of new transit maps.

New line names coming in 2021

Publish Date

Today we are announcing an overhaul of how we name and illustrate our transit lines. Whereas today we use names  for each type of service, such as Link, Tacoma Link, Sounder, and ST Express, next year we will begin naming our lines with numbers and/or letters.  

Here's the new lineup:

A list of the new line names and symbols
An illustration showing how the new line names will be displayed on Link trains and at stations

When the system is complete, Link light rail will have five lines (1, 2, 3, 4, and T), Sounder will have two lines (N and S), and Stride bus rapid transit will have three lines (S1, S2, and S3). 

If you’re interested in the details of why we’ve chosen these names and colors, please read our Frequently Asked Questions page.

We recognize that we are building our system in a region that already has a wide variety of established transit lines, including RapidRide, Swift, and hundreds of individual bus routes across eight agencies.

We have very carefully chosen these new line names to follow global best practices while fitting in with current services offered by our partner agencies.

We want our system to be intuitive and easy to use, especially for riders who do not speak or read English, who have color vision deficiencies, and/or are riding for the first time. 

Why are we doing this? Since 2012 our plan had been to switch to line color names for our light rail lines. In fall 2019 we began using the Red Line for Link and the Orange Line for Tacoma Link, and we planned to launch East Link as part of a new Blue Line in 2023.

The community quickly told us that our use of Red Line was insensitive to the history of redlining in our region. From the 1930s–1970s, banks and insurance companies routinely denied loans or insurance to people of color based on where they lived, concentrating people of color in certain neighborhoods and prohibiting them from other neighborhoods. Redlining perpetuated poverty and denied people of color the ability to build and pass down wealth. 

Though dozens of agencies worldwide use a Red Line in their systems, we agree that in English and in North America, the term Red Line unavoidably carries the weight of that racist legacy. We can do without it, so we will.

Removing the Red Line name gave us an opportunity to think about the system as a whole and design something better. Line colors can work well for a small system, but numbered and lettered lines can more easily grow with our system.

We’re excited to begin rolling out these new line names next year when we open three new 1-Line stations at Northgate, Roosevelt and the U District. With 28 new light rail stations and 24 bus rapid transit stations opening in just the next five years, our new line names will give us a simple, easy to use system that connects our region with fast, reliable transit.

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