Union Station (Los Angeles)

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Los Angeles Union Station
Amtrak, Metrolink and LA Metro station
Union Station profile, LA, CA, jjron 22.03.2012.jpg
Complex architecture of the main building and gardens
Station statistics
Address Amtrak/Metrolink
800 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Metro
801 Vignes Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
 United States
Coordinates 34°03′19″N 118°14′07″W / 34.05515°N 118.23525°W / 34.05515; -118.23525
Platforms 6 island platforms (Amtrak/Metrolink)
1 island platform (Metro Gold Line)
1 island platform (Metro Red/Purple Lines)
1 island platform (Metro Silver Line)
Tracks 15 (Amtrak/Metrolink)
2 (Metro Gold Line)
2 (Metro Red/Purple Lines)
Parking 3,000 spaces ($6 a day)
Bicycle facilities 24 bike rack spaces
20 locker spaces
Other information
Opened May 3, 1939; 75 years ago (May 3, 1939)
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Station code LAX (Amtrak)
Owned by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Traffic
Passengers (2013) 1,643,706[1] Decrease 0.87% (Amtrak)
Services
Preceding station   BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak   Following station
toward Seattle
Coast Starlight Terminus
Terminus Southwest Chief
toward Chicago
Sunset Limited
toward New Orleans
Texas Eagle
toward Chicago
Pacific Surfliner
Metrolink
Terminus 91 Line
Orange County Line
toward Oceanside
Riverside Line
San Bernardino Line
toward Lancaster
Antelope Valley Line Terminus
toward East Ventura
Ventura County Line
LAMetroLogo.svg Metro Rail
Red Line Terminus
Purple Line
toward Atlantic
Gold Line
LAMetroLogo.svg Metro Liner
Silver Line
toward El Monte
  Former services  
Preceding station   BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak   Following station
Terminus Desert Wind
Discontinued in 1997
toward Chicago
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe
Terminus Main Line
Major stations
Main Line
Surf Line
toward San Diego
Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal
Union Station (Los Angeles) is located in Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Union Station (Los Angeles)
Coordinates 34°03′19″N 118°14′07″W / 34.05515°N 118.23525°W / 34.05515; -118.23525Coordinates: 34°03′19″N 118°14′07″W / 34.05515°N 118.23525°W / 34.05515; -118.23525
Built 1939
Architect Parkinson, John & Donald B.
Architectural style Moderne, Art Deco, Mission/Spanish Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 80000811[2]
LAHCM # 101
Significant dates
Added to NRHP 13 November 1980
Designated LAHCM 2 August 1972

Los Angeles Union Station (or LAUS) is the main railway station in Los Angeles, California and the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States.[3] It opened in May 1939 as the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, replacing La Grande Station and Central Station.

Approved in a controversial ballot measure in 1926 and built in the 1930s, it served to consolidate rail services from a number of railroads (the Union Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific) into one terminal station. Conceived on a grand scale, Union Station became known as the "Last of the Great Railway Stations" built in the United States. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Today, the station is a major transportation hub for Southern California, providing 60,000 passengers a day access to Amtrak (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) long distance trains, Amtrak California regional trains, Metrolink commuter trains, and several Metro Rail subway and light rail lines.

The Patsaouras Transit Plaza on the east side of the station serves dozens of bus lines operated by Metro and several other municipal carriers.[4]

History[edit]

In 1926, a measure was placed on the ballot giving Los Angeles voters the choice between the construction of a vast network of elevated railways or the construction of a much smaller Union Station to consolidate different railroad terminals. The election would take on racial connotations and become a defining moment in the development of Los Angeles.[5]

The proposed Union Station was located in the heart of what was Los Angeles' original Chinatown. Reflecting the prejudice of the era, the anti-railroad Los Angeles Times, a lead opponent of elevated railways, argued in editorials that Union Station would not be built in the “midst of Chinatown” but rather would “forever do away with Chinatown and its environs.” In 1926 voters approved construction of Union Station by a narrow 51 to 48 percent.[6][7]

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway's combined Super Chief/El Capitan at the station in 1966

The station took over service from La Grande Station which had suffered major damage in the Long Beach earthquake of 1933 and Central Station, which had opened to replace Arcade Depot in 1914. Passenger service was provided by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, Southern Pacific Railroad, and Union Pacific Railroad, as well as the Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway (LARy). Union Station saw heavy use during World War II, but later saw declining patronage due to the growing popularity of air travel and automobiles.

The station was designated as a Los Angeles Historic–Cultural Monument No. 101 on 2 August 1972 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[2]

Metrolink commuter rail service began using the station in 1992 and service expanded in 1993 and 1994. In 1995 Metro's Red Line subway and Metrolink's Riverside Line began service to the station[8] and on 26 July 2003 Metro's Gold Line began operating from platform 1 at the station.

Metro Gold Line train at Union Station

In February 2011, the board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) approved the purchase of Union Station from Prologis and Catellus Development (a descendant of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads) for $75 million. The deal was closed on 14 April 2011.[9][10] Since taking over ownership of the station, Metro has focused on increasing services for passengers at the station. One of the most noticeable changes is the addition of several retail and dining businesses to the concourse.

Amtrak opened a Metropolitan Lounge at Union Station on 23 September 2013.[11] The lounge is open to Amtrak passengers traveling in sleeping car accommodations, business class on the Pacific Surfliner and some Amtrak Guest Rewards members (Select Plus and Select Executive levels only). The lounge features staffed ticket counter, complimentary refreshments, Wi-Fi, and a conference room. Passengers using the Metropolitan Lounge also receive priority boarding.

Architecture[edit]

Waiting Room
Original Ticket Lobby, with ticket counter on right and niche at rear once containing a drinking fountain

Union Station was partially designed by John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson (the Parkinsons) who had also designed Los Angeles City Hall and other landmark Los Angeles buildings. They were assisted by a group of supporting architects, including Jan van der Linden. The structure combines Dutch Colonial Revival architecture (the suggestion of the Dutch-born Jan von der Linden), Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne style, with architectural details such as eight-pointed stars.[12]

Enclosed garden patios are on either side of the waiting room, and passengers exiting the trains were originally directed through the southern garden. The lower part of the interior walls is covered in travertine marble, and the upper part is covered with an early form of acoustical tile. The floor in the large rooms is terra cotta tile with a central strip of inlaid marble (including travertine, somewhat unusual in floors since it is soft). The ceiling in the waiting room has the appearance of wood, but is actually made of steel.[13]

Attached to the main building to the south is the station restaurant (the last of the "Harvey House" restaurants to be constructed as a part of a passenger terminal) designed by southwestern architect Mary Colter. Although now usually padlocked and stripped of many interior furnishings, the topology of its rounded central counter, streamlined booths, and inlaid floor patterns remain.

The original ticket concourse has 62-foot (19 m) high ceilings and a 110-foot (34 m) counter. It is now closed to the public.[13]

Even with its grand scale it is considered small in comparison to other union stations.[14]

Location[edit]

Union Station and the MTA Building
Aerial view of LA Union Station area in 2014.

Union Station is located in the northeastern corner of Downtown Los Angeles, on the property bounded by Alameda Street, Cesar Chavez Avenue, Vignes Street, and the Hollywood Freeway. It is across Alameda Street from L.A.'s historic Olvera Street and El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park. The historic Terminal Annex building is on the opposite side of the Chavez Avenue underpass. Chinatown and Civic Center are a short distance away.

The Patsaouras Transit Plaza on the east side of Union Station hosts several connecting bus lines, including Metro Local, Metro Rapid and Metro Express lines, as well as downtown DASH shuttles, many municipal bus lines, FlyAway express bus service to Los Angeles International Airport, and University of Southern California campus shuttles. The Transit Plaza is named after Nick Patsaouras, former RTD board member and advocate for public transportation.

The Gateway Transit Center includes the station itself, Patsaouras Transit Plaza, and the western terminus of the El Monte Busway, as well as Metro's headquarters building.

Amtrak and Metrolink share 12 of Union Station's 14 outdoor tracks (as of July 2011), with 90 weekday trains departing (91 on Wednesday, 92 on Friday).

Services[edit]

Amtrak [edit]

Amtrak long distance routes[edit]

Amtrak operates four long distance trains out of Los Angeles:

Amtrak California regional routes[edit]

Amtrak California operates multiple-times-daily regional rail services to cities across the state:

Metrolink [edit]

The station is the hub for Metrolink and six of Metrolink's seven lines serve the station:

Metro Rail [edit]

Three Metro Rail lines serve the station with about 300 Metro Rail trains departing every weekday.

Metro Red Line/Metro Purple Line[edit]

The Metro Red and Metro Purple subway lines have their eastern terminus at Union Station and share two tracks below Union Station.[15][16] There are two entrances: one is located inside Union Station's main concourse on the west side of the complex, near Alameda Street, and the other is located at the Patsaouras Transit Plaza on the east side of the complex.

Metro Gold Line[edit]

The Metro Gold Line is a light-rail line that passes through Union Station as it travels between Pasadena and East Los Angeles.[17] Trains use Tracks 1 and 2 of Union Station's 14 outdoor tracks. The platform is accessible from the main passenger tunnel via staircase and elevator. The platform features an art installation, entitled Images of Commonality/Nature and Movement, created by Beth Thielen.

Metro Liner[edit]

Metro Silver Line[edit]

One Metro Liner bus rapid transit line makes a stop outside Union Station. The Metro Silver Line operates between El Monte Bus Station, Downtown Los Angeles, and Harbor Gateway Transit Center using the El Monte Busway and Harbor Transitway. The Metro Silver Line stops near the southwest corner of the station at the entrance to the El Monte Busway at Alameda Street.

Bus and coach services[edit]

Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach[edit]

Amtrak California operates several routes under the Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach brand from Union Station using dedicated bus bays at the north side of the station.

Connections to San Joaquin trains are provided through bus routes 1A & 1B that travel to and from the Bakersfield Amtrak Station (Route 1B also serves the cruise terminals and Catalina Island ferries in Long Beach & San Pedro.): [18]

  • Route 1A: Bakersfield - Los Angeles
  • Route 1B: Bakersfield - Los Angeles - San Pedro

When trains aren't running during the overnight hours several bus routes provide service along the Pacific Surfliner route (to Santa Barbara, San Diego and select intermediate stations) and the San Joaquin route (to Fresno and select intermediate stations.):

  • Route 1A: Bakersfield - Los Angeles - San Diego
  • Route 1A: Bakersfield - Los Angeles - Santa Ana
  • Route 1B: Fresno - Bakersfield - Los Angeles
  • Route 4: Santa Barbara - Los Angeles

Amtrak also offers thruway service to Las Vegas, Nevada from Union Station.

Long-distance motorcoach[edit]

BoltBus[edit]

BoltBus operates long-distance motorcoach routes from a bus stop at on the western side of Union Station (near the Mozaic apartment complex):[19][20]

Megabus[edit]

Megabus operates several long-distance motorcoach routes from Berth 1 at the Patsaouras Transit Plaza:

California Shuttle Bus[edit]

While it does not stop on the Union Station property, California Shuttle Bus provides service to San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose from a bus stop across from the Patsaouras Transit Plaza at the corner of Vignes and Ramirez streets.

FlyAway Bus[edit]

Direct FlyAway Bus service is offered between Union Station and Los Angeles International Airport. FlyAway buses run every 30 minutes between 5 am and 1 am and on the hour between 1 am and 5 am from Berth 9 of the Patsaouras Transit Plaza.

Metro and municipal buses[edit]

Bus services using the Patsaouras Transit Plaza:

Union Station bus stop for El Monte Busway services

Most bus services using the nearby El Monte Busway use the bus stop west of Alameda Street at the entrance to the busway (southwest corner of station):

Bus services using the bus stop on Cesar Chavez Avenue & Vignes Street (northeast corner of station):

Bus services using the bus stop on Alameda Street & Los Angeles Street (outside western entrance):

* Indicates commuter service that operates only during weekday rush hours.

Platforms and tracks[edit]

Lower level

Metro Red/Purple (2 tracks) Red Line toward North Hollywood (Civic Center)
Purple Line toward Wilshire/Western (Civic Center)

Future expansion[edit]

New transit station on El Monte Busway[edit]

A new transitway station for the Metro Silver Line and other transit buses operating on the El Monte Busway is being built to the south of the Patsaouras Transit Plaza in the median of the El Monte Busway funded by tolls on collected as a part of the Metro ExpressLanes project.[22] It will allow buses traveling in both directions on the bus way to serve the Union station with a minimum of delay for passengers for other destinations.[23][24] When completed a bridge will allow passengers to walk directly from the Patsaouras Transit Plaza to the busway station, eliminating a long, convoluted walk across the Union Station property to the current stop located on the El Monte Busway at Alameda.

The station was originally expected to be completed in June 2014, but because all bids came in over budget, they were cancelled. After the acceptance of revised bids, and an increase in the project's budget that was adopted by the Metro Board of Directors in January 2014, Metro now expects this project to be open for revenue service in December 2016.[25]

Southern California Regional Interconnect Project[edit]

A Metrolink train at Union Station

With the number of trains using Union Station expanding, the stub-end layout of trackage is limiting the station's capacity. Trains can only enter or exit from the north side of the station. The configuration forces trains without cab-cars to slowly reverse in or out of the station and trains heading to or from the south to make a near-180 degree turn. Compounding the problem, is that while the station has 14 boarding tracks, multiple trains must squeeze onto just 5 tracks as they enter or exit the station. This choke-point can delay arriving trains as they are forced to wait outside of the station to allow a departing train to exit the station (departures are usually given priority, to free up platforms and to keep them from experiencing delays along their route).

Therefore, Metro has proposed the Southern California Regional Interconnect Project (SCRIP) which would extend tracks 3–10 as run-through tracks, which will exit Union Station and cross over US Route 101 on a long, elevated "S-curve" that will tie into the existing tracks along the Los Angeles River. The plan also includes several bridges over the river that would create a "loop" around the station allowing all trains (including those to/from the north or west) to use the run-though tracks.[26]

The Metropolitan Transit Authority authorized preliminary engineering for the project in July 2012. A Request For Proposals (RFP) for the SCRIP was being prepared as of June 2013.[27] The $31-million contract for the engineering work on the project was approved on April 24, 2014.[28] The project’s estimated value is $350 million.[28] Construction on the SCRIP project is anticipated to commence by 2017,[29] and be complete by late 2019.[28]

During construction, several tracks may be taken out of service due to their extension. To make up for the temporary loss of those platforms, track 13 was revitalized for use and tracks 14 & 15 were re-constructed. The project was completed on October 17, 2012.[30] Once the SCRIP project is finished, the run-through tracks and tracks 13–14 will be in regular use (track 15 will be used for storage), resulting in a 40% increase in track capacity.

Former Run-Through Tracks Project[edit]

California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Federal Railroad Administration previously drafted a plan to create run-through tracks at Union Station, but the project involved just four tracks and lacked the station "loop" limiting usage of the tracks just to trains heading to or from the south.

The final environmental impact report for the "Los Angeles Union Station Run-Through Tracks Project" was published by the FRA in November 2005.[31]

California High-Speed Rail[edit]

Union Station is planned to be a major hub for the future California High-Speed Rail System. Upon completion, it's projected that passengers will be able to get from Union Station to the planned Transbay Terminal in San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes.[32]

As a part of its Master Plan, Metro is currently studying how to best integrate tracks and platforms for high-speed trains into Union Station. Options include an aerial structure above the existing platforms, an underground structure under Alameda, an underground structure under Vignes and an aerial structure east of Vignes.[33] All plans include a new concourse for high-speed rail passengers and three platforms with six tracks.

In popular culture[edit]

The facility served as a backdrop for the 1950 film Union Station,[34][35] which starred William Holden and Nancy Olson. It has been used in many vintage motion pictures, many of the film noir variety. Movies that have featured Union Station as a filming location include:

The station also appears as Unity Station in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2013 California Report )". Amtrak. Retrieved 9 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  3. ^ "Union Station > History". metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 10 Jan 2014. 
  4. ^ "Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan". metro.net. Metro. Retrieved 31 Jan 2013. 
  5. ^ Axelrod, Jeremiah (2009). Inventing Autopia: Dreams and Visions of the Modern Metropolis in Jazz Age Los Angeles. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-520-25285-1. 
  6. ^ Bottles, Scott (1987). Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of the Modern City. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-520-05795-1. 
  7. ^ "The matter finally came to a head during a historic 1926 city ballot measure. On the ballot were two choices to finally resolve the dispute — a) remove a large chunk of Chinatown to build Union Station, or b) build a new, citywide network of elevated rail lines. As you guessed, Union Station won the vote, but by the barest of margins — 51 to 48 percent. ", http://tracks.lionel.com/las-union-station-75-years-old-and-still-a-beauty/
  8. ^ Katches, Mark (31 Jan 1993). "Red Line Rolls to Raves – It's Smooth Railing As L.A. Subway Opens". Daily News of Los Angeles. 
  9. ^ "Metro to purchase Los Angeles Union Station". metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 24 Feb 2011. Retrieved 10 Jan 2014. 
  10. ^ "Metro tonight officially becomes new owner of Los Angeles Union Station". metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 14 Apr 2011. Retrieved 10 Jan 2014. 
  11. ^ "Los Angeles Metropolitan Lounge opening next Monday, 9/23". www.flyertalk.com. FlyerTalk. Retrieved 19 Sep 2013. 
  12. ^ Waldie, D.J. (May 1, 2014) "Union Station: L.A.'s nearly perfect time machine" Op-Ed Los Angeles Times
  13. ^ a b Allen, Dan (May 2014). "Forming a More Perfect Union". Westways (Automobile Club of Southern California): 53. 
  14. ^ Poole, Matthew R. (2010). Frommer's Los Angeles 2011. Frommer's. p. 30. ISBN 0-470-62619-4. 
  15. ^ "Red Line Map and Station Locations". metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 2 Feb 2014. 
  16. ^ "Purple Line Map and Station Locations". metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 2 Feb 2014. 
  17. ^ "Gold Line Map and Station Locations". metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 2 Feb 2014. 
  18. ^ "Amtrak California Operating Timetable No.45" (PDF). Caltrans. Retrieved 1 Feb 2013. 
  19. ^ "BoltBus To Launch Service In California On Oct. 31". PRNewswire. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  20. ^ "BoltBus Expands From Los Angeles; Adds Las Vegas, San Francisco Service". www.prnewswire.com. PR Newswire. 10 Dec 2013. Retrieved 12 Dec 2013. 
  21. ^ "Union Station layout map". metro.net. Metro. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  22. ^ "Metro ExpressLanes". metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 11 Jan 2014. 
  23. ^ "Patsaouras Plaza/El Monte Busway Station". www.eekarchitects.com. Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects. Retrieved 11 Jan 2014. 
  24. ^ "Patsaouras Plaza Connector (Conceptual Plan)". www.flickr.com. Retrieved 11 Jan 2014. 
  25. ^ "Patsaourus Plaza Busway Station (PPBS) Approve Increase To Life-of-Project Budget" (PDF). metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 16 Jan 2014. p. 5. Retrieved 2 Feb 2014. 
  26. ^ "Regional Rail Capital Funding Plan For FY 2012-13" (PDF). metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  27. ^ "Planning and Programming Committee – June 19, 2013 – Regional Rail Update" (PDF). metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  28. ^ a b c Hymon, Steve (24 April 2014). "Metro Board approves contract for Union Station regional rail improvements". metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  29. ^ "Union Station Master Plan – Board Workshop". www.scribd.com. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 18 September 2013. p. 6. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  30. ^ Hymon, Steve (17 October 2012). "Ribbon cutting this morning for new platform at Los Angeles Union Station!". metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  31. ^ "Los Angeles Union Station Run-Through Tracks Project". www.fra.dot.gov. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  32. ^ "CALIFORNIA STREETS AND HIGHWAYS CODE SECTION 2704.09 (b) (1)". www.leginfo.ca.gov. Retrieved 13 Jul 2013. 
  33. ^ "Union Station Master Plan Presentation" (PDF). metro.net. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. pp. 38–66. Retrieved 13 Jul 2013. 
  34. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Leon (1988). Hollywood Goes on Location. Los Angeles: Pomegranate Press. pp. 179–181. ISBN 0-938817-07-8. 
  35. ^ Union Station at the Internet Movie Database
  36. ^ Bible, Karie (2010). Location Filming in Los Angeles. Arcadia Publishing. p. 27. ISBN 9780738581323. 
  37. ^ "Union Station". www.flickr.com. Retrieved 11 Jan 2014. 
  38. ^ "Internet Movie Cars Database". Retrieved 11 Jan 2014. 
  39. ^ "Internet Movie Cars Database". Retrieved 11 Jan 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Musicant, Marlyn, ed., with William Deverell and Matthew W. Roth. Los Angeles Union Station (Los Angeles: Getty, 2014. xvi, 109 pp.; Heavily illustrated.

External links[edit]