Tacoma, Washington

From nycsubway.org


Side view of Tacoma Link Skoda tramcar at Pacific/25th. Photo by Peter Ehrlich.


Tacoma, Washington, nestled at the southeast corner of Puget Sound about 31 miles south of Seattle, had electric trolleys in operation until April 1938, with Birney cars providing most service. Puget Sound Electric Railway also provided frequent electric interurban service to Seattle. 65 years later, Tacoma is again home to electric streetcars, with the opening of the 1.6-mile Tacoma Link trolley.

The L-shaped line, constructed at a cost of $80 million, line links the downtown business and Arts districts just south of, and uphill from, the Puget Sound shoreline, the new Convention Center, restored Union Station (now a Federal courthouse) and the Washington State History Museum, and the Tacoma Dome and the Freighthouse Square shop and restaurant complex.

There are five stations on the route--Tacoma Dome, South 25th, Union Station/S. 19th, Convention Center/S. 15th, and Theater District/S. 9th. Service is very frequent--every 10 minutes throughout the day--and performed by three Czech-built low-floor trolleys identical to the ones operating in Portland. The ride is free! The low-floor car layout allows roll-on, roll-off access for wheelchair users. It takes about 8 minutes to ride from end to end, and the trolleys preempt the traffic signals enroute.

As is the case of most new LRT installations, artwork, created by local artisans, graces each station.

There is clamoring for extensions and additions to the line. Whether this comes to fruition depends on planning and available funding.

Station by Station

Tracks for the Tacoma Link line actually begin at 25th and G Street, where a three-track maintenance facility is located. Coming out of the carbarn area, a single track forms and crosses diagonally, then climbs a short hill along the west side of the street to Tacoma Dome Station, which is actually several blocks from the Tacoma Dome, but close by the old Milwaukee Road freight house, a long green building which has been renovated as Freighthouse Square, with dozens of restaurants and boutiques. The station for the Sounder commuter train to Seattle is also located here at the Freighthouse, while a major bus station serving local and regional bus lines is situated on the west side of 25th Street. The Amtrak station is three blocks northward off of 24th Street.

Leaving Tacoma Dome Station, the line dips downgrade again, passing under the I-705 Freeway where it crosses to the east side of the street, stopping at S. 25th Station, located between A and B Streets and serving a historic warehouse district. From S. 25th, the line comes to busy, wide Pacific Avenue, and the line will curve westward here.

Single-track continues, and the line crosses 21st Street, where the spectacular stayed-cable 21st Street Bridge, which crosses the large BNSF railroad yards, is one street north. Except for being on a raised trackway, one could imagine this stretch along Pacific Avenue being an early 20th-Century interurban route! Here, double-track is reached, and the route will remain double-tracked for the rest of the way until approaching the inner terminal.

Union Station/S. 19th Station is next, and is the only island-platform station on the line. It is also the mid-point, and both cars serving the route meet here. The magnificent Union Station has been beautifully restored as the United States Courthouse, and the Washington State Historical Museum occupies what once was the baggage house for the station. The Tacoma Museum of Art is two blocks west.

At 17th Street, the line will cross the eastbound lanes of traffic and run diagonally upgrade to Commercial Street, where the new Convention Center is situated. Convention Center/S. 15th Station, at the west side of the intersection, consists of two side platforms, and the tracks hug either side of the street.

The route now begins a long, steady climb up Commercial Street into the business district and past the main Tacoma bus transfer center. Standard center-street trackage is encountered here. Finally, the tracks come back together and the line terminates at Theater District/S. 9th Station.


Providing service are three new Skoda Dopravni Technica streetcars, built in the Czech Republic, numbered 1001-1003, and identical to cars operating on the Portland Streetcar in Portland. They are low-floor, triple-section, double-articulated LRVs, with a bogie under each end section. In older days, this would be called a "Two Rooms And A Bath" configuration. They operate on 750vdc, with pantograph current collection. The cars are 66 feet long, and 97" wide. Sound Transit, the regional King/Pierce/Snohomish County transit operator, which also operates the Sounder commuter rail and regional buses, and is beginning to build a major LRT line in Seattle, owns, operates and maintains the vehicles.

Photo Gallery

Image 33135
(140k, 720x478)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Pacific & 17th

Image 33138
(132k, 720x478)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: South 25th

Image 33142
(148k, 720x478)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Union Station/S. 19th

Image 33144
(153k, 720x461)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: 25th & D

Image 33145
(133k, 720x478)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Pacific & 17th

Image 33149
(150k, 720x478)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Convention Center/S. 15th

Image 33159
(173k, 720x465)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Union Station/S. 19th

Image 50500
(175k, 1024x795)
Photo by: Herman R. Silbiger

Image 50501
(166k, 1024x795)
Photo by: Herman R. Silbiger
Location: Theater District/S. 9th.

Image 50503
(189k, 708x1023)
Photo by: Herman R. Silbiger

Image 50504
(172k, 1024x772)
Photo by: Herman R. Silbiger

Image 50505
(179k, 1024x795)
Photo by: Herman R. Silbiger

Image 105277
(195k, 930x618)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Tacoma Dome

Image 105281
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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Tacoma Link Maint. Facility (25th & G)

Image 105349
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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Tacoma Link Maint. Facility (25th & G)

More Images: 1-50 51-56

Photos By Location

Tacoma Link Maint. Facility (25th & G), Tacoma Dome, 25th & D, South 25th, Pacific & 25th, Pacific & 22nd, Union Station/S. 19th, Pacific & 17th, Commerce & 17th, Commerce & 15th, Convention Center/S. 15th, Commerce & 13th, Commerce & 12th, Commerce & 11th, Commerce & 10th, Theater District/S. 9th.


Official Site - SoundTransit. The official site of SoundTransit and the Tacoma Link light rail, including schedules, fares, and more.

Page Credits

By Peter Ehrlich.

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