Tacoma LINK Light Rail

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 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.

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 directly across the street from the Sounder and Amtrak Tacoma Dome railroad station. Nearby is the old Milwaukee Road freight house, a long green building which has been renovated as Freighthouse Square, with dozens of restaurants and boutiques.

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.

Union Station/S. 19th Station is next, and is the only island-platform station on the line. It is also the mid-point, and 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 alongside Tollefson Plaza, 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 continues 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. As is the case of most new LRT installations, artwork, created by local artisans, graces each station.

Beyond Theater District, an extension to the line will continue into the Stadium District and Hilltop District, consisting of seven new stations. This extension is due to open in late 2023. When completed the entire line will be approximately four miles long.


Providing the service from the opening of the line are three Škoda 10T 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. They operate on 750vdc, with pantograph current collection. The cars are 66 feet long, and 97" wide.

Sound Transit ordered five additional for the extension of service. These "Liberty" model streetcars, from Brookville Equipment Corporation of Pennsylvania, are numbered 2001-2005, and all five were on the property by November 2022.

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

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Photo by: Herman R. Silbiger

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Photo by: Herman R. Silbiger

Photos By Location

Photo locations: 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., Old City Hall, South 4th Street, Stadium District, Tacoma General, 6th Avenue, Hilltop District, St. Joseph


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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