First Time Link Rider Guide

The ultimate guide on how to ride Tacoma’s Link light rail

The Link light rail extends the service areas of the Sounder train, making it easier to get around Downtown Tacoma and Seattle. Service is fast and convenient, with operating hours seven days a week so it’s easy to get where you want to go sustainably! 

Save on time, save money and lower your carbon footprint by stepping onto the Link light rail! Continue reading for the step-by-step guide on how to take your first ride.


The Sound Transit Trip Planner makes it easy to plan your trip route:

  1. Enter your starting location and destination.
  2. Choose if you’d like to ‘Leave now,’ or ‘Arrive by’ or ‘Depart after’ a designated date and time. 
  3. Enter optional filters, such as wheelchair accessibility and maximum walking distance between transfers.
  4. Select ‘Plan your trip.’
  5. The trip planner shows you the best route(s), including mixed use of the bus, Sounder train, or Link light rail and total walking time and distance between transfers based on your itinerary.

If you’d like to explore only the Link light rail service area, check out the routes and schedules for the T Line from Tacoma Dome to Commerce Street and the 1 Line from Northgate to Angle Lake

Once you know your route, get ready for your trip by packing the essentials, dressing for the weather and buying your fare.

First time link riding guide - PLAN YOUR TRIP


You can buy your Link fare at a ticket machine, available at all Link light rail and Sounder stations. You can use cash, credit/debit cards or your ORCA card (the easiest way) to pay. You can also get a new ORCA card or reload at the ticket machines.

Or buy a ticket ahead of time through the Transit GO ticket app!

First time link riding guide - BUY YOUR FARE


Arrive ahead of the scheduled departure time, with enough time to buy your ticket if necessary.

If you’re biking, you may want to bring your bike on board with you. The Link can accommodate four bicycles per car. If you want to securely park your bike while you ride, all Sounder stations have free racks and some have paid cages and lockers available. Check out the Sound Transit bicycle parking page for more information on storing your bike safely.

If you’re driving to the station, check out parking options to securely park your vehicle while you ride.

First time link riding guide - GET TO THE STATION


Be aware of visual and auditory announcements letting you know it’s time to board. When boarding, give priority to seniors and people with disabilities. If you need help boarding, train conductors are trained to help, so simply let them know how they can help you.

First time link riding guide - BOARD THE LINK

How to present your fare or ticket on the Link

  • If you’re using your ORCA Card: Make sure you have enough loaded on your card for your trip and then tap the card on the yellow card reader when starting and ending your trip. ORCA calculates the cost of your trip and deducts the amount from your account. Fare inspectors may ask to check your ORCA card.
  • If you purchased your ticket using the Transit GO Ticket app: Activate your boarding pass before getting onto the Link. Fare inspectors may ask to see your mobile ticket.
  • If you bought a single ticket through a ticket machine: Be sure to carry your ticket with you for your entire ride. Fare inspectors may ask to see your printed ticket.

Link riding etiquette

Keep the ride enjoyable and safe for you and others by following these Sound Transit Rules and Etiquette guidelines.


Remain seated or hold onto handrails until the Link comes to a complete stop before deboarding. Be sure to gather all of your belongings before exiting the Link, and give priority to people with disabilities and seniors so everyone can get off safely.

If you’re riding with your ORCA card, tap the card at the yellow card reader when you reach your destination so your fare can be calculated.

Now continue to your destination or your transit journey by following your planned route. Take a look at these tips for transferring between rail and bus.

First time link riding guide - ARRIVE AT YOUR DESTINATION


For every trip you log into the RTP Trip Calendar you can see how much money you’re saving and be entered to win prizes!

First time link riding guide - LOG YOUR TRIPS