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Los Angeles Union Station

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Los Angeles Union Station

Los Angeles Union Station
Amtrak, Metrolink and LA Metro station
Complex architecture of the main building and gardens
Station statistics
Address Amtrak/Metrolink
800 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
801 Vignes Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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

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)
Station code LAX (Amtrak)
Owned by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Passengers (2012)1,657,446[1] Increase 3.2% (Amtrak)
Preceding station   Amtrak   Following station
Burbank-Bob Hope Airport
toward Seattle
Coast Starlight Terminus
Terminus Southwest Chief
toward Chicago
Sunset Limited
toward New Orleans
Texas Eagle
toward Chicago
Pacific Surfliner
toward San Diego
Terminus 91 Line
Orange County Line
toward Oceanside
Riverside Line
San Bernardino Line
toward San Bernardino
toward Lancaster
Antelope Valley Line Terminus
toward East Ventura
Ventura County Line
LAMetroLogo.svg Metro Rail
Civic Center
Red Line Terminus
Civic Center
Purple Line
Little Tokyo / Arts District
toward Atlantic
Gold Line
LAMetroLogo.svg Metro Liner
Spring St. & 1st St. /City Hall
toward Harbor Gateway Transit Center
Silver Line
LA County + USC Medical Center
toward El Monte
    Former services    
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Terminus Template:ATSF lines
Template:ATSF stations
toward Template:ATSF stations
Template:ATSF stations
Major stations
toward Template:ATSF stations
Template:ATSF lines
Template:ATSF stations
toward Template:ATSF stations
Template:ATSF lines
Template:ATSF stations
toward Template:ATSF stations
Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal
Template:Designation/text #101
Built 1939
Architect Parkinson,John & Donald B.
Architectural style Moderne, Art Deco, Mission/Spanish Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 80000811[2]
Template:Designation/abbreviation # 101
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 13, 1980
Designated Template:Designation/abbreviation August 2, 1972

Los Angeles Union Station (or LAUS) is the main railway station in Los Angeles, California. It is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States.[3] In recent years the station has become a major transportation hub for Southern California serving 60,000 passengers a day as they access Amtrak 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]

The station opened in May 1939 as the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, replacing the older La Grande Station and Central Station. One of a number of union stations built in the early 1900s it served trains from the Union Pacific, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railways. Built on a grand scale, Union Station became known as "Last of the Great Railway Stations" built in the United States. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.


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, with 90 weekday trains departing (91 on Wednesday, 92 on Friday) as of July 2011.



Amtrak long distance routes

Amtrak operates four long distance trains out of Los Angeles:

Amtrak California regional routes

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


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

Metro Rail

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

Metro Red Line/Metro Purple Line

The Metro Red Line and Metro Purple Line subway lines have their eastern terminus at Union Station and share two tracks below Union Station.[5] 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

The Metro Gold Line is a light-rail line that passes through Union Station as it travels between Pasadena and East Los Angeles. 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

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

Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach

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.): [6]

  • 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 from Union Station.

Long-distance motorcoach


Starting on October 31, 2013 BoltBus will provide service to Oakland and San Jose from a bus stop at on the western side of Union Station (near the taxi stand). [7]


Megabus provides operates several routes from Berth 1 at the Patsaouras Transit Plaza:

California Shuttle Bus

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 a bus stop at the corner of Vignes and Ramirez streets.

FlyAway Bus

Direct FlyAway Bus service is offered between Union Station and Los Angeles International Airport. The blue 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

Bus services using the Patsaouras Transit Plaza:

Most bus services using the 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.


Waiting Room
Original Ticket Lobby. The ticket counter is on the right. The niche at the far end contained 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.

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).

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.

Even with its grand scale it is considered small in comparison to other union stations.[8]


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.[9]

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.” Voters approved demolishing much of Chinatown to build Union Station by a narrow 51 to 48 percent.[10]

The station took over service from La Grande Station and Central Station and originally served 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). It 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 placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980[2] and was designated as Los Angeles Historic–Cultural Monument No. 101 on August 2, 1972.

The Ventura County Line, the Antelope Valley Line and the San Bernardino Line opened in 1992 in part, completely to San Bernardino by 1993, with the Orange County Line opening in 1994. Metro's Red Line subway and Metrolink's Riverside Line began operation from the station the following year.[11] In the early 2000s Platform 1 (serving tracks 1 & 2) was converted for use by electric light rail trains and Metro's Gold Line began operating from the platform on July 26, 2003.

In February 2011, the Metro Board 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 April 14, 2011.[12][13]

Since taking over ownership of the station, Metro has focused on increasing services for passengers at the station. One of the most noticiable changes is the addition of several retail and dining businesses to the concourse.

Amtrak opened a Metropolitan Lounge at Union Station on September 23, 2013.[14] The lounge is open to Amtrak passengers travelling 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, WiFi, and a conference room. Passengers using the Metropolitan Lounge also receive priority boarding.

Future expansion

New transit station on El Monte Busway

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.[15] It will allow buses travelling in both directions on the busway to serve the Union station with a minimum of delay for passengers for other destinations.[16][17] 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. Metro now expects construction to be completed in December 2015.[18]

Southern California Regional Interconnect Project

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.[19]

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.[20] The project’s estimated value is $350 million. Construction on the SCRIP project is anticipated to commence by 2017.[21]

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.[22] 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

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.[23]

California High-Speed Rail

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.[24]

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.[25] All plans include a new concourse for high-speed rail passengers and three platforms with six tracks.

Los Angeles Union Station Transportation Center

The new Los Angeles Union Station Transportation Center will be planned at a new busway terminals to upper level to the transfer centers to the Park & Ride of L.A. Metro, Foothill Transit, Orange County Transportation Authority, Santa Clarita Transit, Burbank Bus, LADOT, Commuter Express, Big Blue Bus, LAX Flyaway Bus, Torrance Transit and Antelope Valley Transit to the new bridge flyover towards a Metrolink, Amtrak and Metro Gold Line Platforms to the new glass elevator is coming in 2015.

In popular culture

The facility served as a backdrop for the 1950 film Union Station,[26][27] 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:

See also

Greater Los Angeles portal
Architecture portal
Trains portal



External links

  • Official Union Station webpage
  • Amtrak – Stations – Los Angeles, CA
  • Union Station overview (Metrolink)
  • LA Metro map of connections in the Union Station area
  • LA Metro map of bus services from Union Station
  • Great American Stations listing (Amtrak)
  • Los Angeles station information (Amtrak Texas Eagle)
  • Public Art Works at the Union Station and in El Pueblo
  • (Episode 222 - September 26, 1994)

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