||This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (April 2008)|
Tacoma Link at the Tacoma Dome Station.
|System||Link Light Rail|
|Termini||Tacoma Dome Station
South 9th/Theater District
|Opened||August 22, 2003|
|Line length||1.6 mi (2.6 km)|
|No. of tracks||2|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Electrification||750 V DC, overhead|
|Operating speed||max 25 miles per hour (40 km/h); avg <13 miles per hour (20.9 km/h)|
|Highest elevation||At grade|
Tacoma Link is a 1.6-mile (2.6 km) light rail line located in Tacoma, Washington. The line was completed in 2003 and serves the downtown area, and primarily functions to transport commuters between a combined parking garage/transit hub and the downtown core. The service is free of charge to use.
A century ago Tacoma, like many American cities, had an extensive rail transit system. The first two streetcar lines in Tacoma were constructed in 1888 along the lengths of Pacific Avenue and Tacoma Avenue. A pair of horses pulled each of the yellow streetcars. The lines were a success from the start, carrying many passengers, and were very soon thereafter extended. From these few lines others sprang up, each emanating from Downtown Tacoma into the surrounding areas, allowing for houses and business areas to develop.
By around 1912 the city boasted 125 miles of streetcar track (much of it electrified) and almost 30 streetcar lines as well as an electric interurban rail connection to Seattle. Tacoma also had a simple cable car loop running from South 11th and 'A' St. to what is known now as Martin Luther King Jr. Way, down South 13th St. back to 11th and 'A'. This simple and frequent line helped to integrate trolley lines that served each street level. It also helped to ferry passengers up Tacoma’s steep hills which assisted in integrating the eastern and western sections of Downtown Tacoma.
The streetcar lines individually had experienced many troubles over their 50-year lifetime, including many buyouts, defaults, takeovers, worker strikes and one notable tragedy. On a rainy day on July 4, 1900, a trolley derailed and fell into a ravine, killing 43 passengers.
However, the system was still very successful at efficiently transporting people. At its peak the Tacoma Railway and Power Company was transporting in the range of 30,000,000 passengers a year, a number still not reached by the modern Pierce Transit. However, because of increasing government subsidies for road construction (some of which were paid for by transit riders) the trolleys were finding it more difficult to operate in an environment increasingly dominated by personal automobiles and taxis. The year that US 99 was completed commuter traffic between Tacoma and Seattle via the electric Interurban fell off nearly 40%, signaling the end of the trolley era. The last streetcars in Tacoma ran on April 8, 1938. The system was replaced with brand new rubber-tired buses that could more easily move in and out of the growing amounts of traffic in downtown. However, the system failed again and was eventually acquired by the City of Tacoma – becoming the precursor of Pierce Transit.
In the mid-1990s, the Puget Sound region was dealing with increasing traffic, driven mainly by the dot-com boom and Microsoft. Voters approved Sound Move, a three-county transportation package that formed Sound Transit. One of the major projects for the Pierce County/Tacoma area was Tacoma Link.
The 1.6-mile (2.6 km) line runs from the Tacoma Dome through downtown to the Theater District. This allows users to park, or transfer from buses or Sounder and ride Link into downtown destinations. Each station also features artwork that reflects the history of the surrounding area.
Tacoma Dome 
End of the line. Allows connections to Sound Transit and Pierce Transit buses, Sounder trains, plus Greyhound. The Tacoma Dome is only a couple blocks away. Freighthouse Square, an indoor shopping mall, is located across the street.
Artwork at the station reflects the areas history with the railroads (Freighthouse Square, for example, was an actual freighthouse for the Milwaukee Road) and the large amount of lumber mills that existed in the area. Art consists of the following:
- A footbridge that looks like an old trestle
- A dry riverbed with scattered industrial tools and parts around it
- Sculptures that look like dust collectors from sawmills
- Seats at the station that look like railroad spikes
- A clock that displays time by magnetically picking up metal scraps on the hour
South 25th 
Right before the line turns on to Pacific Avenue and heads downtown, we find the South 25th Station. This is a single track station on one side of the street. This station's primary purpose is to serve bus lines on Pacific, but it also targets an area ripe for redevelopment and is close to the Brown and Haley candy factory.
Artwork at this station consists mainly of large fishing lures on the roof of the station platform that move in the wind. This is to reflect the fishing lure manufacture that used to take place in the area.
Union Station 
Arguably the main station of the line, this station serves many museums and other locations in the heart of downtown Tacoma. It is a double-track station in the median. The station serves University of Washington, Tacoma, Museum of Glass, Washington State History Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Union Station, a former train station that is now federal courts, local restaurants and businesses, and new condo and apartment developments. During major events on the Foss Waterway, such as the 2005 Tall Ships Festival this station serves as a major transfer point. Many Tacoma School of the Arts students also use this station to get to their classes around downtown, such as those classes located at the Broadway Center for Performing Arts.
Artwork at the station reflects the area's American Indian culture, and the manufacturing and shipbuilding that took place in the vicinity (including in many of the buildings used by UW Tacoma). Artwork includes:
- The outline of a ship's frame and American Indian fishing tools in the median by the station
- Roof of the station platform is meant to look like the ribs of a ship
- Photos and poems covering manufacturing and fishing in the area on the platform
Convention Center 
This station serves the new Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, the Hotel Murano and major downtown employers such as Rainier Pacific Bank and Davita. The station platforms are split on either side of the street.
Artwork at the station includes colored panels in the roof and towers of rocks, evoking a Buddhist temple that used to exist in the area.
Theater District 
Final station of the line (currently). This station serves the Theater District, Antique Row, City Hall, Pantages Theater, several clubs and businesses, and the Russell Investment Group. It is a single-tracked station on one side of the street.
Artwork at the station reflects the Theater District:
- Seats at the station resemble fold-up theater seats
- Bronze plaques in the ground are reproductions of historical theatrical posters
- Projectors project theatrical scenes on screens at night
Rolling stock 
Shortly after the line was opened, the Puyallup Tribe commissioned a study investigating the extension of the line to their planned casino a short distance East of the current endpoint of the line. This project is still a possibility.
North End Extension 
This routing would head up either South 19th or 6th Avenue and end at the Tacoma Community College transit center. Service would be at ground level, either using the same Tacoma Link trolley cars or Central Link cars. This line could see a large amount of ridership, as the TCC station is a major transfer point. A run along 6th Avenue would serve this growing nightlife spot in Tacoma.
Airport Extension 
This would extend Tacoma Link along Highway 99 through Fife, Federal Way, and SeaTac to the South 200th Station of Central Link near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. This would allow for travel from Downtown Tacoma (or possibly even North Tacoma, if the above extension is implemented) to Downtown Seattle, and to Northgate.
Tacoma Streetcar 
Although not directly related, the popular organization Tacoma Streetcar is calling for a restoration of the original streetcar rail system that existed in Tacoma until 1938. This push has the potential to connect with the existing Tacoma Link light rail line as well as other transit services in the area.
- "Tacoma Link Schedule" (XML). Sound Transit. 2007-08-18. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
- Tacoma Link