Several improvements to Link station signage are in development. Numbered exit signs will be piloted at downtown Seattle stations next week, and other enhancements will be rolled out with system expansions in future years. The changes were introduced at a meeting of the System Expansion Committee on Thursday as the Committee approved a contract for sign services. At the same meeting, CEO Peter Rogoff indicated Sound Transit would drop the term “Red Line” and perhaps color-coded lines generally.
Exits will be numbered and paired with directories. The first signs will be piloted in downtown stations next week and the pilot will continue through 2020. Overhead number signs will direct riders to exits. Nearby wall-mounted directories will explain which numbers correspond to which streets or nearby destinations. The directories will include pictures of popular destinations nearby. Labelled exits were identified as a best practice in other systems, and are particularly useful for visitors, first-time users, non-native speakers, and high-functioning illiterate users.
Current station line maps show the entire line and the same map is used across stations. Future station maps will be location-relevant. They will confirm the direction of travel, highlight the current location and connecting routes, and grey out the ‘traveled’ portion of the route. The new maps will be deployed with the Northgate Link opening in 2021.
New dynamic signs will be deployed in stations and in vehicles with the East Link opening in 2023. The East Link opening will be riders’ first experience with transferring between rail lines.
Few details were shared about the dynamic signage. Vehicle and station signs are managed under separate contracts. Standards for consistency across all signage will be integrated through the Passenger Information Management (PIMS) project for station information. Vehicle signs will be rolled out with the ST2 Siemens vehicles.
Sound Transit is dropping the “Red Line” name for the Link rail line through downtown. Adopted in 2012, Sound Transit has used the name more extensively in recent months as it prepares to open new lines. Stakeholder organizations (identified in the Seattle Times as Transportation Choices Coalition and Puget Sound Sage) asked for a different name, drawing attention to the association with historic “redlining” by banks. Redlining was a set of practices that discriminated against geographic communities, frequently on racial grounds. At Thursday’s committee meeting, Peter Rogoff indicated that changing the name of the Red Line would mean changing names for other lines, and hinted that color-coded lines would be discontinued generally. A decision on the new naming scheme is targeted by March so Sound Transit can proceed with other signage development ahead of Northgate opening.
Also discontinued is the “regional T”. You may have forgotten this one as surveys indicated most customers did not recognize the icons and were more likely to follow signs with mode images. It will be going away as new signs are rolled out. Expect new signs to more prominently feature the mode icons.