Open door on new Series 2 Link train. Light strips beside the door windows are lit up green. The closed door on the opposite side is lit up blue

One of the distinctive features on the new Link “Series 2” trains are the light strips on the doors. Not only do they add a colorful flair to your ride, they serve the purpose of indicating the state of the doors. With one tweak they could be more informative for a speedy exit.

In their normal state, the Series 2’s door lights glow blue. They flash green when they open and stay a solid green while they are fully open. As the doors close, they flash red. The lights return to blue after the doors close.

My first impression of the door lights was they reminded me of a similar feature on Montreal’s Azur trains which got me excited. But something was missing. The Series 2’s lights do not tell you which doors will open at the next stop.

Lights beside the doors on the left are lit in green to indicate they will open at the next station. The doors on the right side of the train are lit in white.
Montreal Metro’s Azur trains highlight the doors that will open at the next stop.

So let’s use these lights to their full potential. When a train approaches a station, the doors opening at the next stop should change from blue to green. Then a voice announces “Now Entering [Some] Station. Exit to my [left/right]” and the new information screens display an Exit symbol with an arrow pointing toward the exit (more on the screens in a future post). All these done in sync reinforces the message.

This simple visual cue helps riders get ready to exit the train without using a single word, just in a glance.

38 Replies to “Link’s Series 2 Train Doors Light Up”

  1. A smart and simple tweak that would have immediate, tangible benefits. Very good! Now, who to write to…

  2. Genius! I hope Siemens engineers read this and make it so before 2 October!

  3. I like flashing light announcements. I wish that some lights on the Link platforms started flashing two minutes before a train arrives. That way, people within visual distance of the platform could know the train is coming without having to look down the tracks. DC Metro installed flashing lights that turn on underneath the platform edge before those trains arrived.

    1. There has always been a 2-minute audio and text announcement, and you can hear the train even if you can’t always be sure which direction it’s coming from.

      1. Some folk are hearing impaired or deaf. The loud background noise in a station makes it worse. Lights are a great visual cue.

      2. It’s important to signal that the train is coming beyond the audio. It’s probably more important to tell riders before they gets to the platform. They don’t often see the text and train until it’s pulling in — and the audio is often muffled or not broadcast except right at the platform.

        Wouldn’t you like to know the train is due in one minute if you are walking down 40 steps and can’t see the signs or didn’t clearly hear the announcements? Also, there is just a one word difference when either train arrives (“north/south”) and hurrying to find your train isn’t the one arriving is pretty cruel to do to a rider.

  4. Instead of turning green, which indicates an open door, have them flash blue. I miss the blue light special ;-)

    1. @Bernie, I went to the Kenmore Rhododendron park you recommended. Lots of grass, wood groves, rhododendrons blooming, and a number of children playing and their parents watching. Worth a trip if it’s convenient, not if it’s not. There’s construction on the 69th Avenue bridge and in part of the park for a boathouse.

      OT, I rode one of the new trains last week. The trains are roomier and overall better. I saw the door light; I didn’t think it was that special. The stanchions and plastic panels on the sides of the doors are a modernist curved shape like an airplane wing.

      The map above the door goes from Northgate to Angle Lake, and takes up all the horizontal space. I don’t know how they’ll fit additional stations on it. Maybe they’ll have to have two lines on top of each other. I was puzzled because some New York subway lines have a map like that with an LED light at each station that goes off when the station is reached. It has a lot more stations than Link does, yet it still fits in a space not that much wider. Maybe the station names are vertical.

      1. I’d imagine they will have an entirely new map design for East Link and afterwards, and will need to swap out the old maps rather than expanding the current map like they’ve done for previous extensions.

      2. Worth a trip if it’s convenient, not if it’s not.

        That’s a fair assessment. The City took out a bunch of the Rhodes a few years back to put in the grass play space. A shame really since just down the trail on the Bothell Kenmore boundary is Waynes, the old golf course turned park which is about 30 acres of grass.

        What is the bike space like on the new cars?

        Anyone know when new cars are going to be delivered to the Eastside Operations & Maintenance Facility? There was a plan to deliver them by truck prior to the track overhead contact system being installed.

      3. Read the link I guess:

        more seats with space to stow luggage, and four bicycle hooks—twice as many as provided currently.

        That’s good news. Train/bike connections will be awesome with East Link.

      4. My bet is that the diagram will look like a two-pronged fork when East Link opens.

        A variation in my dream map would be for the DSTT segment to be a big C, with Northgate Link extending top right, East Link extending bottom right, right and the current Link extending bottom left.

      5. “What is the bike space like on the new cars?”

        The one I saw holds two vertically and it may be able to hold two more between them in a higher row; I wasn’t sure. There are two seats opposite for riders, facing sideways toward the bikes.

      6. The east OMF has had one new car and one old car for a few months now but I’m sure you meant more cars than that.

        East Link will have a new map. Maybe even a new map for Northgate Link as they are introducing the new line number designations then.

      7. I recall ST saying the train sets for East Link would need to be trucked to the East OMF for final assembly in order to meet the scheduled opening in 2023. I assume they would come one or two at a time so I’d expect them to have started the build up process by now.

  5. Prediction … Someone will pretend to be outraged at the color of the lights, saying the colorblind will have difficulty differentiating between red and green.

    1. Hi, colorblind person here, thanks for implying we don’t matter! [ad hominem]

    2. It’s a fair point. I’ve moderate color blindness in that I can see the colors, but if you put red and green together in one of those vision tests and ask me to tell you the number I’m not able to do it.

      The point is that for people that are truly colorblind the color cues ARE useless. So really the signal should be a flash for about 10 seconds before it’s going to open, a solid when open, flash for about 10 seconds before it’s going to close, and then solid when closed. You can make the pretty colors for those who are able to see them, but the basic functionality of alerting to an upcoming action shouldn’t be based on color.

      1. Yes, that’s a great idea. Do both. Those of us who can see the colors will be able to tell using them; those who can’t will be able to tell using the sequence of flashes.

      2. My original draft had the lights on the opposite door turn red but I dropped it due to color contrast with the green on the other side.

        Red/Green blindness is the most common. My dad has it.

        For doors about to open I’d use a slower pulsating light instead of a quickly flashing light. The latter implies urgency.

    3. Thanks for bringing up the issue. Most accessibility/legibility improvements aimed at specific groups tend to end up being accessibility/legibility improvements for everyone.

      Certainly, someone here must know a tested best practice for the sequence of flashing and solid lights, and for how much difference there should be between the lightest and darkest colors.

      The one exception I can think of is how it was decided to have two-car trains stop in the middle of the platform lengths, thereby reducing the walkshed of each station by 90 feet, in practice. But having stations located where they have only one exit, or you have to go to a certain end of the platform to exit, is surely a larger missed opportunity.

  6. With this round of trainsets, will there be truly dedicated wheelchair areas, or will those still be taken up by fold-down seats, causing people sitting in those seats to have to move to accommodate wheelchairs?

    Are there safety features for wheelchair riders that were missing from the Kinkysharyo trainsets?

  7. Why did Sound Transit order new trains that couldn’t link with the old trains. If you could walk between sections, it would make sense. Portland has 3-4 generations of light rail cars. And all of them can be linked. If this was a choice for cost savings, maybe. But Sound Transit is always over budget. So why can’t old and new trains link up?

    1. The trains are physically interoperable but not electronically. So if a train is out of service, a train from another series could tow it, but ST cannot run a mixed trainset in revenue service.

      There’s nearly a decade of technology change between the series; if they were fully interoperable, ST would be stuck with electronic standards set in the early 2000s. Given the electronic issues with Series 1 (difficulty with electronic messages crossing trains), I think they made the right decision.

    2. Type 1,2,3 trains in Portland cannot operate with Type 4 and 5. Type 2 and 3 can operate with type 1 because type 1 is high floor and needs to be connected with something that is ADA accessible. Type 4 and 5 can connect together but they are both S70s. The KinkiSharyo trains can connect with the Siemens ones but cannot operate together in service.

  8. Happened to get one of these Series 2 cars yesterday, while riding to Sounders. My second Link ride since the start of Covid. Much nicer interiors, much more room. Oran’s idea is great, too.

  9. Yes, the NDR’s are very happy with the lighting, makes it easier to pee on the train. Popsicles, pony rides and blue lights, denials, ST. Ignore the problem of NDR’s. Greyhound therapy at its finest.

    1. …what?

      I feel like I’m listening to my grandpa mutter under his breath while watching TV. It’s actually somewhat nostalgic.

    2. Does NDR mean non-destinational rider? I’ve hardly seen anyone like that on Link in my twelve years of riding. There was a slight increase when Link was free, but that was months ago. Metro has a larger problem with it, as do bus agencies throughout the country, because trains just attract a more middle-class clientele than local buses do. As for Greyhound, there are no non-destinational riders. The driver checks tickets outside the bus, at a Greyhound office, with security standing by. Rural stops without offices have few on/offs total.

      Peeing I’ve seen a few times in the downtown elevators (Westake Century Square, Intl Dist), but not on trains or platforms or non-downtown stations. Anybody can use the elevators, and there’s no evidence the people ever boarded a train or intended to.

      There are problems outside a few Seattle stations that sometimes spill into the stations, but rarely onto trains or Greyhound buses.

    3. Where’s the Block button Frank? “Realistic” is spinning gossamer tales.

  10. I’m sure ST would blame “signal technology limitations” or the types of LED lights they chose as an excuse for why something like this cannot happen before 2035, following several studies and committee meetings of course.

    1. Don’t forget the months of meetings with stakeholders, tent peg carriers and affiliated pole vaulters.

      1. These comments (and Brian Bradford’s and ctishman’s above) made my morning.

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