Tukwila International Blvd. Station (Todd Hobert)

If Friday’s meeting announcement post didn’t seem like a fertile comment thread, you missed a pretty interesting discussion about station names.

For what it’s worth, I’m a big fan of short and unambiguous names. If I were in charge, I’d rename Tukwila’s Sounder station “Longacres” and change TIB to “Tukwila”; ID/C to “Chinatown”, “University St.” to “Symphony”, and “UW” to “Montlake”. We wouldn’t want newcomers to think that Montlake is the only stop serving UW, or heaven forbid that University St. is the way to get there.  But then, I’m someone that types these names a lot and so has to invent acronyms to avoid typing “Tukwila International Blvd.” all the time.

109 Replies to “Station Names”

    1. There used to be a horse racing track there called Longacres, and I know the name is lived on in the nearby Boeing facility.

      1. Tukwila Station is also an Amtrak station, so you’d have to convince Amtrak to change the name too.

      2. Speaking of which, anyone know when the new station will be built there for Amtrak and Sounder? Do we know if they new station will incorporate the bus lines better, including the Rapid Ride line?

  1. I’m in full agreement that short, concise names are desirable.

    A concise name has the benefit that it can be printed in larger, more easily read type on maps and diagrams. It’s also shorter on scrolling messages and announcements.

    Othello, Sodo, Stadium are all great, concise names (though stadium will be ambiguous when the station opens in the Husky Stadium parking lot.) The airport station should just be called “Airport” or “Seatac” either one works.

    Another way to keep the name concise is to eliminate any redundant information – and my #1 gripe is that fact that ST includes the word “station” in the station names, especially on the scrolling signs on Link vehicles. We all know they stop at stations. Ditch the word “station” from the signs and announcements. “Next Stop Sodo”, not “Next Stop Sodo Station”. And the destination sign can just read “Airport” or “Westlake” – that’s it, no scrolling needed.

      1. Doesn’t that depend on whether Stadium is a Latin or English word? Dictionary.com shows both stadiums and stadia as acceptable plurals.

        I’d rather have that station called Safefo Field or Royal Brougham – it’s not really the closest station to Qwest Field.

    1. But if there wasn’t scrolling, then ST couldn’t show off it’s cool scrolling number boards!

    2. Or if they’re so enamored of using the word “station” in the on-board announcements, they could at least change it from “The next stop is Pioneer Square Station” to “The next station is Pioneer Square.”

  2. The ones that vaguely annoy me are “Brooklyn” vs. “Roosevelt”

    If you’re in the U-district, these are only a few blocks apart, which could lead to some confusion. However, Roosevelt station’s actually 20 blocks North of Brooklyn station.

    “45th St” and “65th St”, would be much more useful to most people, particularly those new to the city (say, going to UW)

    “Husky Station” would also be a good name for the Montlake/SouthUW/Husky Stadium station.

      1. Yes it does — Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens all have numbered streets on separate grids….

      2. You’re in an entirely different borough at that point. And the actual instance of name clash is rather low.

      3. Number street names are a no-no? They make much more sense than the proposed Brooklyn and Roosevelt names.

      4. Numbered streets make far more sense, the line runs north -south “fairly” directly, and almost everyone knows that, East-West Cross Streets are far more important to where you are than north south-parallel streets. Never name a station on a parallel, unless it is the secondary part of the name (I.E. Grand & Milwaukee Station on the CTa Blue line (Milwaukee is parallel, but noted second)).

    1. Roosevelt is the name of the dense neighborhood there. Maybe change Brooklyn to University District and change UW to Husky Stadium to eliminate that confusion, although I do like the Brooklyn name.

      1. Montlake would be the most appropriate name for Husky Stadium, since that’s where it is. I agree that the Brooklyn name should be University District.

      1. The “Ravenna” neighborhood fans out both to the east of there (along 65th St) and to the southeast (along Ravenna Blvd and the windy ravine it follows), but it definitely does not include the area known as “Roosevelt.”

        There’s no reason not to just name the intersections. Don’t bother with any cardinal directions — just names and numbers. “Roosevelt/65th” is much clearer than “Roosevelt Station.” “Brooklyn/45th” is still terser than “Brooklyn/University District Station.” “3rd/University” is infinitely more accurate than “University Station.”

        Tukwila should frankly just be called “International Blvd;” it is neither near the geographic center of Tuwkila nor near the downtown that Tukwila doesn’t possess. It’s nowhere near Tukwila’s ugly government buildings north of 495, and it’s not a transfer point to the other Tukwila station.

        But since Tukwila is the only Amtrak station between Seattle and Tacoma, it needs to keep the useful geographic identifier. It should probably be referred to as “Tukwila/Amtrak” and maps and signage.

  3. Amen to that. Coming up with a short name that is inclusive of everything around the station works. Atlanta doesn’t want to leave anything to the imagination, though: Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center

    University Street = Waterfront (not to bite off of Vancouver or anything; lessens confusion by dropping ‘university’, closest station to the water – exiting at 2nd and Univ. – and near Waterfront Park)
    University of Washington = UW/Montlake (calling it ‘University’ is whack with SU and SPU in town… name of neighborhood, adjacent bridge and cut)
    Brooklyn = U-District (name of the neighborhood)
    Roosevelt = Roosevelt (name of the neighborhood, adjacent high school – makes sense)

    And I am a fan of dropping ‘station’ from the scrolling front of the train. This weekend when the trains said ‘SODO Station’, it was nice to not see scrolling!

    1. University St. does have an exit on Second but it’s still several blocks from the Waterfront so that’s not a good name.

      1. Ummmmm I said that having that entrance doesn’t justify calling it Waterfront Station, not that that entrance doesn’t exist.

  4. I also agree on short names. And let’s start with Longacres and Tukwila. Or even Southcenter instead of Tukwila. But I suppose Tukwila has something to say about this. And mostly they wanted routing of Link through Southcenter and didn’t get it…

      1. No, they *begged* for Link to go through Southcenter and threatened to stall the whole project if it didn’t. It was the Snoho and Pierce sound transit officials who voted against it because it cost more money and added 7 more minutes to their suburban passenger’s commutes. I think all of the King officials voted for it though.

  5. It really bugs me that on the link trains when it shows International District and China Town the LED sign inside the train says INTL DISTRICT/CHINA TOWN. Were they just too lazy that they couldn’t put the whole word International? It’s not as if there’s not enough space on the sign since the whole thing scrolls.

    1. It used to be “International District/Chinatown”, “Tukwila International Boulevard”, and “Westlake” before they changed to “Intl District/Chinatown”, “Tukwila Intl Blvd”, and “Downtown Seattle/Westlake”.

      “Downtown Seattle/Westlake” really bugs me, considering that Westlake is more midtown than anything… I know that it helps for people at the airport to know that the Westlake train is the one they want to get on, but still.

      1. They should at least change it to “Westlake/Downtown Seattle”. The actual name of the station should be first.

      2. There are three stations in downtown, so downtown should not be considered as a station name. Westlake, or dare I suggest 3rd and Pike, should be the station name.

      3. Downtown wouldn’t be a station name, but it could still be a destination sign on a Link light rail train, just like it is a destination sign on many buses. The Link train serves all the downtown stops and then terminates.

    2. How about NORTH and SOUTH since we only have one line. Or Central Link. Or Blue Line. Or just the Link?!?!

      BART is the only other city I can think of where they use terminus station route names vs. colors. It’s annoying since the lines are colored and easier to remember that way.

      1. The NYC subway also names lines based on destination. During rush hours you need to pay attention to the destination of the train, or that E you got on might terminate at 179th rather than Parsons/Archer.

      2. The London Underground uses both. The District Line for instance has 6 different termini, Metropolitan Line has 5, and Piccadilly 4, plus there are always trains that don’t go all the way to the end of the line, so need the designator to denote how far it’s going.

      3. I know this is probably another topic all unto its own, but does anyone know of tentative color designation for the Link lines once East Link comes online? I’ve been curious about this for awhile. Also kind of confused if the whole “Central”, “South”, “University” and “North” Link naming convention will have continued usage as they are really all part of one line, especially compared to East Link once it opens. I suppose this really depends on the designated trains themselves versus the track they run on, as East and Central obviously will share Central north of ID.

      4. I would have suggested that they name the current line “A” and East Link “B” but that would get confusing when Rapid Ride starts service.

      5. Time for regionalized route numbering similar to Ny…

        you could have

        S= Seattle
        E= Everett
        T= Tacoma
        B= Bremerton
        X= Regional Express

        For the County portions
        P=Suburban Pierce
        SK=South King Generic/Renton/SouthCenter
        AU=Auburn Area
        EK=EastKing Generic
        NK= North King Generic
        N=Night Owl Routes (anywhere)

        and the list goes on
        so you;d have the S1 (Metro Route 1), T1 (PT Route 1), X50 (ST 550), WS24 (124), FW74 (174), RD71 (271), and on and on and on some more

  6. I’m in full agreement in dropping the word “Station” from each of the names. Also agree that the [University St / UW / Brooklyn ] situation needs work. Both the stops near UW need to indicate they’re near UW, and University St. does need to change to something else. Yes, name changes will cost a little bit of money in the short run (mostly labor hours – there are lots of system updates to make) but in the long run it will be beneficial. And if they’re going to make updates, they might as well take some time and make all the changes in a reasonably short period of time.

  7. I like what Phoenix does with Valley Metro: station names are the street intersections where the station is

    1. That’s not helpful if you’re not familiar with the area, and will get really confusing with our street grid system as Link expands. Right now I still need clarification every single time between 15th Ave NW in Ballard and 15th Ave E in Capitol Hill.

      1. I find street names and numbers as the station more useful than a generic neighborhood name when I’m visiting cities. It’s descriptive and I can then look at a non-transit map and still figure out where I’m at.

      2. My point is that isn’t the case for Seattle. The map would need to have a big explanation of the street grid system that asks you to ensure that the address your brother-in-law gave you isn’t actually in West Seattle when you’re boarding a train to Capitol Hill.

      3. I’m originally from Phoenix, so I can speak a little as to why they call out the grid. Orienting yourself by that grid (and associated adresses) is really only useful because the entire metro area is one continuous grid, and there are very few geographic barriers. Also, since most cross streets that the system would be calling out are more than 30 miles long, it becomes necessary to be more precise when specifying a location.

        In general, I very much prefer neighborhood names when they are practical. They are often more distinctive than potentially very long cross streets, and I like how it implies that a much larger area is close to the station than a simple intersection, and for the tourists, where they need to turn their guidebook to.

        What about calling out the intersection as a subtitle for only the large in-station maps? Something like
        (Brooklyn & NE 45th)

    2. I actually think that the Phoenix naming scheme is tragically unfortunate. I understand that this might be unavoidable since their whole city is based around the street grid, but intersection names do little to provide neighborhood/community identity. Stations providing neighborhood/community is one of the most underrated and overlooked benefits of transit systems in my opinion.

  8. Related question, since Randay206 brought up the subject of last weekend’s short turns at SODO Station — when trains turn short like that and connect via bus bridge to their ultimate destination (Westlake in this case), should the trains be signed to SODO or to Westlake?

    To me, Westlake is less confusing because getting on that train will still get you to Westlake, just with the addition of a transfer to a bus.

    When I see a train to SODO, my immediate reaction is the train stops at SODO and I’ll be on my own from there. I can see uninformed riders on the platforms in Rainier Valley, letting SODO trains pass, waiting for the train to Westlake that isn’t coming for a very long time.

    What say the transit experts and users here?

    1. Big Rider Alerts at all station platforms

      I saw it mentioned before and I’m throwing it here for thoughts: what if the RFA was temporarily extended to the Busway @ SODO station just during closures?

      1. But not at the bus stops. I suddenly decided to take the 550 Sunday, and was coming from Ballard so I couldn’t check online. I hoped it would stop at 4th & Stewart like it did when the tunnel was undergoing renovations, and it did. But there was no rider alert there or at 3rd & Pine stop, which is the other place someone would naturally look. Not a good day for riding buses when you have to go to every stop in a 3-block area looking for your bus (and possibly missing it).

    2. Yeah, definitely saw both this weekend. I would still display Westlake, and brand the buses as ‘rail replacement service’ (ala TfL) – http://www.ssfoto.net/images2/ldnb37.jpg

      That way someone at the airport will still see that they can go all of the way to Westlake. I’m glad that ST had some staff at SODO to direct traffic.

    3. I think Downtown would be better. Would avoid having to explain to tourists where Sodium is and at the same time would avoid lying.

  9. Or we could just sell the naming rights to the stations and use the money to expand the system…….

  10. Before the 2005-2007 retrofit, International District/Chinatown Station was called just plain “International District Station.” WHY did they have to change the name of the station?

    1. The neighborhood was traditionally called Chinatown, but in the 80s the politically-correct name International District came into vogue. Never mind that it was really Asian District and not truly International District. But in the 00s when they actually interviewed some non-Chinese residents, they said they weren’t offended at it being called Chinatown, so the name came back.

      1. Anyways, the International District is still officially divided up into Chinatown, Japantown, and Little Saigon, and the station is in the Chinatown section.

      2. Chinatown may have been the original name of part of the area, but Japantown formed not too long after, and these days there’s a Little Saigon. The mayor proclaimed the area “International Center” in 1951, and the phrase “International District” appears pretty regularly in the papers thereafter. The International District Improvement Association was formed in 1968, and the International Examiner was founded in 1974. The “ID” label wasn’t simply a product of 1980’s PCness.

      3. Oh, and as for why they added “Chinatown” to the station name, I assume there was a debate similar to the one in 2004 over the name of a community center: while most younger inhabitants of the area don’t have a problem with “International District”, some of the older folks of Chinese descent take it as a slight against their community and its roots there.

      4. I think most people say “I’m going to Chinatown” not “I’m going to the International District,” not just the older people but the younger people too. Most people I know at my school just call it Chinatown.

      5. Er, I thought the “International District” was only west of I-5, and Little Saigon was outside it.

        As for Japantown, I haven’t heard of one in the ID, but I read that the Central District had a concentration of Japanese before it became black.

      6. The hill near Sixth and Main is called Japantown Hill. There are still a few Japanese businesses there, including the great restaurant Maneki, and quite a few Japanese residents.

    2. Is Chinatown/International District not the official name of the area rather that International District/Chinatown?

      After the development agency for the district is called Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area, and on its website it says Chinatown-International District.

      Furthermore, the area gained federal status as the Seattle Chinatown Historic District.

  11. Great notion.
    UDub & The Ave for the Montlake/Brooklyn stops. The City of Seatac ought to pay the Port for naming rights, since they’ve muddied up the way the Airport stop ought to be named. Boeing and Paine Fields may yet have passenger service in the lifetime of the Link, so there’s another source of confusion. Roosevelt is the name of the nabe at 65th, but maybe a Teddydam stop could give it a fresh handle. stop

    1. So you want the City of SeaTac to pay for the name of the station at the Airport but you want to give it away for free to the University of Washington?

      1. Seatac the city ought to pay the Port for using a previously nonexistent name in another yet similar context, stealing the brand in other words. The Link stop names would just be place names, no fees in either direction. Alas, no one has offered me the Crown, so this is an unlikely outcome.

    2. Should the stadiums pay for “Statium station”, Bellevue for “Bellevue Transit Center”, and Northgate Mall for “Northgate station”? These are landmark names, and a fundamental part of any transit system. It was ingenious of Sound Transit to come up with “SeaTac/Airport station”, which is instantly recognizable as “Sea-Tac Airport” and as “SeaTac, the town that has the airport”.

      “Westlake/Seattle” is a stupid name but at least it helps visitors find downtown Seattle. (And visitors don’t care that Rainier Beach is the first Seattle station.) And ST itself has backed away from the name. Some maps say “Westlake/Seattle”, others say “Westlake”, the onboard marquee says something like “downtown Seattle/Westlake”, and the voice announcement I think says “Westlake station”.

      As for commercial flights at Payne Field and/or Boeing Field, that’s several years into the future at least, and the current Link line won’t have anything to do to them. The Airport station can be renamed later, oh wait, it doesn’t have to if it keeps its “SeaTac/Airport” name.

    1. No. Names that visitors and locals identify with should be used. Native names are just as confusing as what we have now.

    2. Seattle/Westlake, Columbia City, Othello(?), Rainier Beach, Tukwila are native names. Agreed with Ben, native names get a little old considering everything around here is named for a native and visitors have no idea how to spell or pronounce them. Station names should reflect the surrounding area.

    3. I think he meant Native American names. Tukwila and Seattle are the only ones that fit the bill.

  12. Stationss should have primary and secondary names. Primary names should be neighborhoods/landmarks and should be on all signs. Secondary names should denote the nearest intersection, and should appear on major signs only.

  13. Also Generally for what it’s worth

    Heavy Rail stations are generally named after cities or towns or even CDPs (Census designated places) whereas light rail and bus stations are generally named after neighborhoods, cross streeets, major destinations.

  14. Link southbound from Westlake was delayed today about 20-30 minutes around 5 pm today. Anybody know why?

    1. I noticed all the buses at Westlake were backed up around 5:30 today, and then my southbound Link train just crawled out of the ID station. I’m not sure what was up, but I did see the police talking to someone at the entrance to the tunnel where the car bomb barriers are. I know that occasionally someone tries to drive into the tunnel and that will back everything up for quite awhile.

      1. I was at International District Station around that time waiting to board Link southbound.

        A bus was stalled at the front of a line of six northbound buses, all unable to maneuver around the bus at the front. A couple different people were trying to help the operator get the bus going again.

        My theory is that this operator hadn’t driven that model before, so it was a hiccup that goes along with the pick change.

        When the southbound Link was finally allowed into the station, it was packed to fire capacity, and several people passed up on boarding. The next train was also packed. I don’t know if the 5:30 trains southbound are generally packed, or if this was the result of the backup.

  15. In all this, let’s remember that the time for these discussions is now, not after the fact. Getting it right the first time is infinitely easier than letting early-adopters of nostalgia or simple inertia preclude sensible changes later.

    I remember how in 2007 the MBTA in Boston refused Boston Public Library’s request to add its name to Copley station, either for Copley/BPL or Copley Square/Library. They balked due to the $10,000 cost required to rebrand all system maps and signage. Earlier this year, however, Tufts University paid the MBTA $150,000 for a long-anticipated change of an Orange Line stop from New England Medical Center to Tufts Medical Center. So the process is laborious, but money talks.


  16. The one that needs the most immediate attention is “University Street.” That needs to be changed before 2016. For the sake of visitors and new residents, we can’t have a “University Street” station and a “University of Washington” station on the same line. Symphony seems too reliant on one entity. What if the Symphony moves to Seattle Center in 15 years? There should be a naming workshop including residents and businesses to determine the name. Business District? Center City? West Edge? I don’t know what it is but “University Street” needs to go.

    1. Enough already. Stop suggesting renaming streets that have existed for generations and claiming it makes things easier. If you haven’t figured it out you haven’t lived here long enough to know what your talking about. People visit London and I don’t see any push to rename Waterloo Station, Charring Cross or Piccadilly Circus because; well, Napoleon didn’t lose in London, no cross burnings have occurred for centuries and there never was a circus at Piccadilly.

      1. I don’t think he was talking about renaming University Street. He was talking about renaming University Street Station. I see the point, though I don’t necessarily think it has to be changed.

      2. As a point, it’s Charing Cross, not Charring Cross. It is named after a former hamlet and has nothing to do with anything burning.

      3. Right, the crosses were never lit on fire which makes it even more confusing. The point is it makes no sense to rename it because the cross is no longer there as it makes no sense to rename University St. or University Station because the UW campus is no longer there:

        Charing Cross was one of 12 “Eleanor Crosses” erected by a disconsolate Edward I when his wife Queen Eleanor of Castile died in 1290.

        When Eleanor died at Harby, near Lincoln, in November 1290, a grief-stricken Edward ordered her embalmed, and her entrails were buried at Lincoln Cathedral. Her body was then carried in a somber procession to Westminster Abbey in London.

        At each place where the procession stopped for the night, Edward had built a memorial cross in her honour. Today only the crosses at Waltham Cross (Hertfordshire), Geddington, and Hardingstone (both Northamptonshire) remain, and the cross at Charing is remembered only in the name Charing Cross.

      4. The problem is not University Street, which rightly honors the original university, the way Capitol Hill honors the once-was-going-to-be-the state capitol. The problem is that “University Street station” is a particularly bad name for a station far from the university, when a central subway is heavily used by visitors going to largest university in the region and one of the major universities in the country. They could have called it “Seneca station” or “Financial District station” or any number of things.

        “Symphony station” could be spun as “Seattle is a symphony” rather than “Seattle has a symphony next door”. Or, “I went to Seattle and one of the most interesting things was a station named Symphony.”

      5. I’m pretty sure anybody visiting the UW will know that it’s not in DT Seattle. If it was a problem people trying to get to Seattle Central Community College would be getting of in the CD.

  17. Sound Transit adopted the current names by board motion. No decision that I know of has been made on U Link stations, the current names are just working planning names. I agree Tukwila International has to go, but I am not sure what to name it. I think the Rainier Valley stations are all well named.

    International District/Chinatown was actually a contentious debate between different groups feeling strongly about the name and even debating the order. Deal with it, it is Seattle.

    I will dissent from those who want to change the name of University Street. That has been the name for 20 years and I doubt people will be confused with the UW or any other university. Plus all of the other names suggested sound clunky.

    As for the UW stations I would suggest that in line with what I have seen in other places you link the stations with the name. UW/Montlake and UW/Brooklyn might be simple names, although I could live with University District as well.

    Roosevelt is Roosevelt, not Ravenna. Perhaps Roosevelt/65th would be descriptive.

    Bernie hits the nail on the head about London. When we do have a system, the map will be more important than the perfect names.

    And ST, please drop the word station, we know that is where the train stops…

  18. Okay, how about “Rainier Beach” and the forthcoming “Rainier” station on Eastlink? Too similar or different enough being on different lines?

      1. I thought about that too, although Judkins more refers to the neighborhood on and north of the lid. I like the way Judkins sounds, but I do think something with Rainier signals connection to important Rainier Ave.

      2. Goodwill?

        Of course the confusion is that the primary venue for the Goodwill Games was Husky Stadium so everyone bound for Montlake would end up on East Link and getting off at Rainer Ave S.

        Stop would be shorter than Station. Of course it’s a stop or else it wouldn’t be on the sign. So yes, the reader board saying SODO Station is just as stupid as scrolling, “SODO and yes the train does stop here not just provide a tourist vista”.

        On a more serious note, how about Yesler? Sort of a stretch but no other station is better located to serve Yestler/Yestler Terrance.

    1. Rainier Beach is OK. The very south end of Rainier Valley has been called Rainier Beach for decades and hasn’t caused any confusion. And Rainier station has been called Rainier freeway stop for years without confusion.

      At least it’s not Chicago which names almost all stations after cross streets, and thus has multiple stations with the same name, including two on the same line (“Western” on the Blue).

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