Transit Briefs: Sound Transit, CATS, RTD, DART | So Good News


Written by

Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor

Part of the preferred station map and numbering approach for the Link system.  (Credit: Sound Transit)

Part of the preferred station map and numbering approach for the Link system. (Credit: Sound Transit)

Sound Transit will replace pictograms with a new station coding system across the Link network. Also, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is entering the next phase of building its new transportation system; Regional Transportation District (RTD) seeks corporate partner for A Line naming rights; and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) offers free cell service and phone to eligible riders.

Sound transport

According to a report from The urbanist, Sound Transit will deploy a new station coding system across the Link network “similar to sequential numbering systems used for airport gates and major train station tracks and platforms,” ​​which will supplement regular station names, replacing the pictograms currently in place. This decision, according to The urbanist report, follows a summer of testing and rider engagement that focused on three different station code options.

Sound Transit’s preferred option is unique stop codes. (Credit: Sound Transit)

In accordance The urbanist report, agency staff last week briefed Sound Transit board members on “the need for the changes and a preferred approach that will be rolled out in Link system expansions on the horizon.” Sound Transit staff, according to the report, are trying to address some unique issues with the change, including utility, scalability and meeting legal requirements.

In accordance The urbanist Report, Sound Transit is required by state law to “use some form of alternative station identification for Link” and is “required to incorporate signage at stations” that is easily understood by the traveling public, including, but not limited to, persons with disabilities, non-English speaking persons and visitors from other nations.'” The Act, The urbanist reports, also specifically states that signage “uses signs or pictograms developed by the authority as a means of identifying stations and may identify points of interest along the corridor for persons using languages ​​not based on the Roman alphabet.”

According to engagement results, and as reported by The urbanist, “pictograms are neither popularly used nor highly useful among surveyed Sounding Board members and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) focus groups. Less than 20% of Sounding Board members and less than 10% of LEP participants said they use pictograms. Even worse, most participants – including three-quarters of the target audience (LEPs) – said they did not find pictograms useful. Conversely, most participants said station codes were useful and scored incredibly high in intuitiveness (75% to 80%), helpfulness (78% to 90%) and ease of use (75%). In fact, participants in the LEP focus groups quickly picked up how the maps worked and were able to make successful transfers in travel scenarios using station codes. Among people with visual impairments, there was not as clear a preference for approaches, but Sound Transit received strong feedback on using a braille format on tactile signage that would be very clear about the information being presented.”

(Credit: Sound Transit)

sound transport, The urbanist reports, will retain universal icons in media and signage such as airplanes and ferries for airport and ferry terminal connections, adding that Sound Transit’s preferred approach is Option 2B, a bubble system that gives each station one to three stop codes.

Each code, according to The urbanistis “a three-digit number with the first number identifying the line serving the station and the last two digits being specific to a station. The latter two numbers can also be considered a base number. For example, Northgate will be given the base number 58 and will be served of the 2 and 3 lines. Therefore, the station will have two stop codes: 258 and 358. The use of three-digit numbers is an issue that the agency has looked into given that the local and regional bus system often uses three-digit numbers for bus routes, so as to avoid confusion is a design priority.”

In accordance The urbanist report, “due to the sequential nature of the stop code system, riders will be able to more easily navigate the direction they want to go or even know how many stops to go. On lines 2 and 3, higher numbers correlate with going north, while lower numbers correlates to going southbound (and eastbound or westbound where they branch). Riders can also mathematically calculate that going from stop 155 (University of Washington Station) to stop 150 (International District/Chinatown Station) will be five stops. The Stop Calculation Feature however, carries with it some complexities as base numbers are sometimes reused by completely different stations or skipped in certain circumstances by branch lines. The numbering plan is centered on the regional hub station: International District/Chinatown Station.”

The question of whether Tacoma’s T Line streetcars will get station codes remains a matter of agency personnel, according to The urbanist report, said “it is not required for the line and pictograms are not currently used on it, but the design concepts built in the potential for the line to work seamlessly with the 1 line.”

In accordance The urbanist report, “riders can expect to see station codes rolled out and pictograms removed in the upcoming East Link and Lynnwood Link expansions. Those project openings tend toward late 2024 due to construction delays, but there are efforts for a partial East Link opening next year, and the idea has support from Claudia Balducci (Sound Transit board member and chair of the Systems Expansions Committee) and interest from Sound Transit Executive Director Julie Timm.”


According to a WCNC Charlotte report, CATS, which spent the past month engaging riders to get feedback on its new transportation center, is entering the next phase of building the new transportation system, which includes finalizing the design. CATS presented its findings to the Transport, Planning and Development Committee on Monday 7 November (presentation video below).

“The last few weeks have really been about hearing from people who use the bus and light rail, as well as the bus drivers; CATS executives aimed to learn more about their needs when it comes to creating a better travel experience and reliable service. WCNC Charlotte reported.

“The transit center is a key component of our total mobility system,” said CATS CEO John Lewis, who added that “the current transit center is outdated and no longer meets the needs of customers.”

Through pop-ups, virtual meetings and surveys, in October CATS presented two options to hundreds of riders and bus drivers, according to WCNC Charlotte report.

“A modified two-level terrace option on one level at light rail, then above street level … and then a street level portion of that,” said CATS director of planning Jason Lawrence, as reported by WCNC Charlotte. “Then we modified the concourse option to better improve traffic flow with buses going in and out of the facility.”

according to WCNC Charlotte report, the agency, which said “safety and overall personal safety are priorities,” found that most participants “preferred to transfer in Uptown over other locations throughout the city. A third did not feel safe crossing the bus lane at today’s center. Improved lighting and visible security presence were also ranked as important factors for the new facility.”

according to WCNC Charlotte report, the agency’s goal is to have a temporary center built by 2024 or 2025 with a permanent location, priced at about $89 million, to be built and operated between 2028 and 2029.

CATS Leaders, WCNC Charlotte reports, plans to have a final recommendation on January 3 and an action review in the city council on January 9.


RTD announced Nov. 8 that it is seeking a corporate partner interested in naming rights opportunities for the agency’s A Line commuter train, which runs between Union Station and Denver International Airport.

According to RTD, the end of the latest A Line corporate partnership agreement – ​​the first opportunity for naming rights under RTD’s corporate partnership program, which began in 2014 – opened up the opportunity for naming rights for this internationally recognized line to interested parties. RTD says it will receive proposals for the A Line company partnership until 14.00 on 30 November and intends to make a final choice shortly afterwards.

Corporate partnership opportunities, which may include brand visibility on signage, stations, vehicles, recorded announcements, digital properties and marketing collateral, “allow businesses to align their brands with a burgeoning marketplace throughout the Denver metropolitan area and reach the consumer base of one of the nation’s top transit systems ,” RTD said.

“RTD is a key contributor to the economic vitality of the Denver metro region, not only by connecting people to where they need to go, but by increasing corporate exposure through our advertising and corporate partnership opportunities,” said General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson. “In the case of A Line, this service is well-known to customers and travelers worldwide, with high visibility and an excellent service record. It provides great value for a branded company.”


DART announced on Nov. 8 that it has partnered with Assurance Wireless to offer free cell phone service and a free cell phone to eligible riders currently enrolled in a qualifying federal or state assistance program. Attendees, the agency adds, can also receive a Discount GoPass® Tap Card, 50% off the regular price of a DART pass, when they attend one of several upcoming events.

More information about free mobile phone service is available here.

To determine eligibility, DART riders should bring proof of participation in qualifying programs (supporting documentation) to the following events. The documentation must contain full name and address and be dated to show current participation.

  • Tuesday 8 November at 15.30 – 18.30; Buckner Station (8008 Elam Road, Dallas, TX 75217)
  • Thursday 10 November at 15.30 – 18.30; Downtown Irving/Heritage Crossing Station (201 Rock Island Road, Irving, TX 75060)
  • Monday 14 November at 15.30 – 18.30; Bernal/Singleton Transfer Location (5151 Singleton Blvd., Dallas, TX 75212)
  • Wednesday 16 November at 15.30 – 18.30; Parker Road Station (2600 Archerwood Street, Plano, TX 75074)
  • Friday 18 November at 15.30 – 18.30; Glenn Heights Park & ​​Ride (1200 E. Bear Creek Road, Glenn Heights, TX 75154)

DART riders may qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a government program that lowers a customer’s bill for broadband Internet access, if they participate in the following:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Riders can qualify for Texas Lifeline if they participate in any of the three programs above, or in one of the following:

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP)
  • DHA: Housing Solutions for North Texas
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (Part 8)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)


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