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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Brickyard BRT station could bridge both sides of 405

The Brickyard in-line station would lie approximately between the sign span on the left and the bus on the right.

The future Brickyard Stride BRT station in the median of I-405 could provide access to more than just its namesake park & ride lot. Instead of crossing only halfway from the parking lot, WSDOT’s latest concept now has a footbridge extending across the entire freeway, creating a new non-motorized crossing as a shorter alternative to the busy NE 160th St overpass.

The east entrance at 116th Ave NE & NE 155th St puts more of the Queensgate/Kingsgate neighborhood within walking distance to the station and creates a new gateway to the Tolt Pipeline regional trail. The west entrance at the Brickyard Park & Ride is in a more central location, making it more convenient for people parking in the southern lot.

As a former regular user of the Brickyard station, the lack of a bridge to the east side was glaring when I first saw the early concept in 2019. I gave my feedback during the open house in February this year and it is nice to see the project continually refined even as it faces delays.

This latest concept comes from plans included with environmental review documents prepared by Sound Transit for the I-405 BRT project in September. Let’s look at the details.

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Greater Eastside Transit Map

excerpt of map showing Redmond and Overlake area

The need for social distancing has limited Metro’s in-person efforts to inform riders about the North Eastside restructure that it put into service on Saturday but with many of us staying at home, that means more time to read all about it.

For those who are visual learners, I present to you the Greater Eastside Transit Map. My goal is to introduce new and upcoming transit offerings on the Eastside through an engaging and appealing graphic that represents service levels, routing, as well as areas served by the on-demand Community Ride service in a format that is simple to read. Major transit projects like East Link light rail and Stride BRT on I-405 and SR 522 are shown to give people a preview of the near future. The map builds on the design established four years ago by my Seattle Transit Map while incorporating a brighter tone and more streamlined look.

The Eastside map was created in partnership with the Greater Redmond Transportation Management Association (GRTMA), who advocates for better biking, walking and transit in Redmond. They plan to print brochures that include the map.