Don’t expect to find a “Red Line” on Sound Transit

Nov. 15, 2019
Transit agency drops name to promote inclusion and will refer to the University of Washington to Angle Lake section as Link light rail until a new naming convention is finalized.

Sound Transit will continue to develop a new naming convention for its expanding light-rail network, but future maps will not include a “Red Line.” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff informed members of the System Expansion Committee the color name, which had been used to describe the University of Washington to Angle Lake section of the Link system, will no longer be used and the section will be referred to as the Link light rail.  

“A couple of months ago, Sound Transit started using the term Red Line more broadly to represent our current Link service. We are preparing for the addition of a second system line and wanted to start building rider understanding of the current and coming line names. As the term Red Line became more visible, we heard concerns from members of our community, that this term carries unfortunate associations with the punitive practice by lenders of ‘redlining,’” Sound Transit Chief EEO, Equity & Inclusion Officer Jackie Martinez-Vasquez wrote in a recent blog.

Redlining, by definition, is the refusal of services, such as a home loan, to a person deemed a poor financial risk based on the area where the person lives. As a practice, this denial of services was motivated by race or ethnicity and is pointed to as a clear example of institutionalized racism. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed the practice, but its effects linger.

“While numerous transit systems around our country have red lines based on the widespread practice of using primary colors to label transit services, at Sound Transit we want to build a system that welcomes everyone. The term Red Line clearly works against this goal,” wrote Martinez-Vasquez.

Sound Transit’s goal to finalize a new naming convention in March 2020, prior to the opening of the Northgate extension in 2021. The transit provider says new signs and system maps will be developed and appear in stations in advance of the start of Northgate service.

More information on Sound Transit’s decision to drop the “Red Line” term can be found in Martinez-Vasquez’s recent entry to Sound Transit’s blog.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.