Sound Transit to ditch ‘Red Line’ light rail name in face of criticism

Nov 15, 2019, 10:25 AM

Light rail colors, Red Line...

Sound Transit's previous plan for light rail colors. (Sound Transit)

(Sound Transit)

Sound Transit announced Thursday that it would be dropping the “Red Line” label from its primary light rail route. This came after objections from those who cited Seattle’s sordid history with the practice of racial redlining.

What’s the deal with Sound Transit’s new light rail colors?

Redlining remains a mark against Seattle’s history still evident today, where banks would withhold home loans from minorities. That in turn denied them the chance to accrue generational wealth in the form of property passed down through the years.

“These discriminatory practices caused widespread damage and inequities that have had a lingering impact to this day,” Sound Transit said in a news release outlining its decision to do away with the “Red Line” name.

Previously, the Red Line was used to describe light rail trains starting in Northgate, running to Angle Lake. That was part of a larger color-based conceit divided across at least five separate routes.

The larger original plan was to use red, blue, green, purple, and orange among others. Whether those other colors will continue to be the method by which Sound Transit’s light rail lines are named remains unclear, although a blog post outlining all the various colors is no longer up on Sound Transit’s site.

How segregation was planned, and continues in Seattle

“A new naming convention will be developed in the coming months with a goal of finalizing it by March 2020 when new signs and system maps will start to be developed for the opening of light rail service to Northgate in 2021,” Sound Transit’s statement reads.

What was formerly known as the Red Line is currently the only light rail line in operation. While Sound Transit comes up with a new name, it will simply be labeled “Link light rail.”

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Sound Transit to ditch ‘Red Line’ light rail name in face of criticism