Seattle - Link, RapidRide

Link Light Rail

Sound Transit Link Light Rail's Kinkisharyo vehicles each have four interior LED displays used for the passenger information shown here. Each vehicle also has two side destination signs (one in each end of the car) that display the destination on the interior and exterior sides.

Specific Gripe Time!

The configuration of Link headsigns is made much worse by the overuse of scrolling and the inclusion of "STATION" for all destinations. Thus, at most specific moments, the headsign is not showing a clear, unambiguous destination of the train. Scrolling text is also harder to read for people with vision impairments (and most people with 20/20 vision!).

Most of the time, the headsign displays UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON STATION northbound and ANGLE LAKE STATION southbound. To illustrate the problem with the scrolling technique, I recorded and timed how long these headsigns show clear, unambiguous information:

Of the 10-second loop:
Clear: 17%
Unclear but unambiguous: 25%
Ambiguous with "Westlake": 17%
Useless: 42%

Of the 14.5-second loop:
Somewhat Clear (whole word "Washington"): 10% - 1.5 sec
Unclear but unambiguous: 38% - 5.5 sec
Ambiguous with "University Street": 21% - 3 sec
Useless: 31% - 4.5 sec

By using names short enough not to scroll, like simply "ANGLE LAKE" and "UNIV OF WASH", the Link headsigns could be useful to a glance 100% of the time, up from 10-20% of the time. They would be useless 0% of the time, compared to 30-50% of the time.


RapidRide is King County Metro's "BRT" service, with specifically branded buses and Rapid stop spacing. The passenger information system is different than a standard Metro bus -- other routes don't have the pre-announcement chime but are otherwise similar.