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Sound Transit will drop the “Red Line” name

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At today’s System Expansion Committee Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff informed members that, after hearing from the community and considering the issues, he has instructed staff to create a new naming system for our light rail services that ceases any reference to a “red line.”

A couple of months ago, Sound Transit started using the term Red Line more broadly to represent our current Link service. We are preparing for the addition of a second system line and wanted to start building rider understanding of the current and coming line names. As the term Red Line became more visible we heard concerns from members of our community, that this term carries unfortunate associations with the punitive practice by lenders of “redlining.”

Redlining describes the historical practice engaged in by banks to withhold home-loan funds or insurance from neighborhoods deemed to be poor economic risks. These neighborhoods were primarily comprised of racial and ethnic minorities, who were denied the opportunity to build generational wealth through home ownership.

These discriminatory practices caused widespread damage and inequities that have had a lingering impact to this day. In response, we are going to identify a new system for identifying our routes. It’s the right thing to do, and we are grateful for the community members who encouraged us to take this action.

While numerous transit systems around our country have red lines based on the widespread practice of using primary colors to label transit services, at Sound Transit we want to build a system that welcomes everyone. The term Red Line clearly works against this goal.

In the coming days we will begin ceasing to use the term Red Line and return on an interim basis to the simple “Link light rail” designation used in previous years to describe service running from the University of Washington to Angle Lake.

A new naming convention will be developed in the coming months with a goal of finalizing it by March 2020 when new signs and system maps will start to be developed for the opening of light rail service to Northgate in 2021. The updated maps and materials will appear in stations and elsewhere in advance of opening service to Northgate.

Changes to Sound Transit’s rider notifications and trip planner as well as third-party services such as One Bus Away and Google Maps are scheduled to be completed in late November and early December. Over the coming months Red Line references will also continue to appear in some printed materials, such as Sound Transit’s printed Ride the Wave schedule book, which will be updated as part of the March 2020 service change.

Jackie Martinez-Vasquez is Sound Transit’s Chief EEO, Equity & Inclusion Officer