Link’s Series 2 Train Doors Light Up

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.

An alternative to Link station pictograms

As Link’s map expands, the already detailed pictograms will become less legible.

Each Link light rail station has a pictogram as a secondary identifier intended for people with limited English language proficiency. However well intentioned, the pictograms are poorly implemented and lack a logical system underlying their construction.

The last time we wrote about pictograms was five years ago when Sound Transit unveiled the pictograms for U-Link and Northgate Link. With nineteen new Link stations projected to open in 2023 and 2024, it is near time to evaluate whether they are fulfilling their purpose and whether other methods are more accessible to all users.

One alternative is station numbering. Each station is assigned a short code consisting of a symbol representing the line and a number representing the station. Countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand use it for aiding visitors unfamiliar with local names and the non-Latin alphabet.

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