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Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan

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Union Station is the region’s primary transit hub, connecting Southern California counties whose combined population totals more than 17 million. Metro purchased the iconic downtown LA station in 2011.

More than 60,000 travelers and commuters access the station’s transit providers, which include Metro bus and rail lines, Metrolink commuter rail, Amtrak long-distance rail, and numerous municipal carriers and specialty shuttles with connections to downtown Los Angeles. As Measure R funds Metro’s system expansion, Union Station is expected to see upwards of 100,000 boardings per day.

The Union Station Master Plan will develop Metro’s vision and plan to guide future development at the station, including transit operations and new private and/or public real estate development.

Project Goals

Celebrate the site’s history
The Master Plan will celebrate the station and embrace all adjacent neighborhoods’ rich history, providing for development that complements the station’s architecture and heritage to reinforce Union Station’s place in history. 

Improve the Union Station passenger experience
A program of improvements -- including upgraded signage, improved transfers and expanded services -- will be designed to enhance each passenger’s visit.

Create a great destination
Building on the significant attributes of Union Station, the Master Plan will shape the city’s premier destination for transit users, residents and visitors. Potential enhancements include creating a public space that is sensitive to the site’s historic and cultural fabric and adjacent neighborhoods. 

Prepare for High Speed Rail
The Master Plan will be flexible to accommodate anticipated future arrival of high speed rail (HSR) serving Union Station. 

Metro also recognizes the need for greater accessibility to Union Station from surrounding neighborhoods – and has initiated a separate study to look specifically at pedestrian and bicycle improvements in the areas around Union station. This Linkages Study will be closely coordinated with the Union Station Master Plan.

Project Schedule

June 2012 Consultant contract award
September 2012 Project kick-off
Fall 2012 Data collection and analysis
Stakeholder engagement
Union Station Technical Advisory Committee meeting
Winter 2012 Community kick-off
Presentation of program to the Metro Board of Directors
Spring-Summer 2013 Development of conceptual alternative plans
Union Station Advisory Committee meeting
Public workshop #1 (preliminary conceptual alternatives)
Public workshop #2 (refined conceptual alternatives)
Fall 2013 Metro Board of Directors to select preferred conceptual alternative
Fall 2014 Final Master Plan presented to Metro Board of Directors for adoption

Built in 1939, Union Station combines Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne styles. The architecture team included John and Donald Parkinson who also designed Los Angeles City Hall and city landmarks.

Originally intended as a transcontinental terminus station for the Union Pacific, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railways, the station was a major hub for troop movement during World War II.  With the advent of air travel, train service declined at depots across the nation – including Union Station.  The station’s historic 161,000 square foot terminal was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and the station was restored in 1992. Beginning in the 1970s, growing use of Amtrak and expansion of local and regional rail revitalized the station as a major transportation hub. 

Union Station Transit Operations Milestones

  • Amtrak begins operating four long distance trains from Union Station
    • 1971– Coast Starlight
    • 1971– Southwest Chief
    • 1971– Sunset Limited
    • 1982– Texas Eagle
  • 1992 – Metrolink starts operations in Union Station
  • 1993 – Metro Red/Purple Line opens
  • 1995 – Patsaouras Transit Plaza opens, serving bus operations  
  • 2003 – Metro Gold Line begins service
  • 2006 – LAX FlyAway begins offering service to Union Station  

Union Station Property Highlights

  • Approximately 40-acres, transportation hub (Metro, Metrolink, Amtrak) and urban mixed-use development site.
  • Restored historic train station, extensive gardens and courtyards, and a range of dining options.
  • Approved for more than 6 million square feet of new development (Alameda District Specific Plan, adopted 1996).
  • Adjacent to downtown Los Angeles and El Pueblo, with close proximity to the Los Angeles Civic Center, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, the Arts District and Boyle Heights.
  • Headquarters for Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Metrolink and Metropolitan Water District – with 1.1 million square feet of office space.
  • Property operations include agreements with the transit agencies, retail leases, filming locations, special events and parking.

July 17 Special Board Workshop

The Metro Board of Directors held a special workshop on July 17 to receive a progress report on the LA Union Station Master Plan, including a cost estimate.  This workshop was open to the public and the presentation can be found here.

The presentation covered much of the same materials presented at our June 5th Community Workshop.

Development costs are projected to be $1.7 billion, excluding costs associated with private commercial development.  Of that total, $1.3 billion are considered transit costs and will likely be funded by Metro and its local, state and federal funding partners. The remaining $403 million are for projects whose costs can be shared and are likely to be funded through public-private partnerships under cost-sharing agreements.

A final refinement of the LA Union Station Master Plan and an implementation strategy, including a more detailed financing plan, will be brought to  the Metro of Board of Directors in September 2014.

June 5 community workshop

Following a public meeting in August 2013 and Metro Board of Directors authorization in October 2013, Metro has been finalizing the selected preferred approach for the Union Station Master Plan (USMP). This approach improves transit operations of the Station for the 21st Century while preserving its historic architecture.  The Union Station Master Plan preferred approach includes creation of an expanded multi-modal concourse in an east/west configuration and the relocation of Patsaouras Bus Plaza to the west side of the site in a north/south configuration. On June 5, the Union Station Master Plan Team presented further refinements to these concepts, as well as the results of additional study on commercial development opportunities, landscaping and open space, bicycle and pedestrian connections across the site, a sustainability plan, and a phasing and implementation strategy. 

LEED Certification: A first for a transit station!

The Master Plan effort has been precedent-setting for sustainability. Union Station is the first transit station to be registered for LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) certification with the U.S. Green Building Council. 

Next steps

Over the next three months, Metro will delve deeper into the implementation approach, including coordinating with the Alameda Specific Plan, developing a governance structure to shepherd the future of the station, and providing feasible and realistic approaches to financing. The final Union Station Master Plan, with recommendations for next steps, is scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors at its September 25 meeting. 

Other projects underway in and around Union Station

In addition to wayfinding (i.e. signage) improvements, there are two other projects currently taking place under Metro’s leadership in and around Union Station. The Linkages Study (in partnership with SCAG and the City of Los Angeles) will improve cultural and historical connections between Union Station and adjacent communities by enhancing pedestrian and bike options along the arterial streets. The Southern California Regional Interconnector Project (SCRIP) will add long term rail capacity at Union Station to accommodate increased Amtrak, Metrolink and eventually High-Speed Rail service.

Union Station’s 75th anniversary celebration

Thousands of people from across the region celebrated Union Station’s 75th Anniversary May 3.  Revelers listened to mariachis, rock and roll, and swing bands, waited in line to see the popular historic rail car on Platform 13 – and dropped in at the Master Plan booth to learn more about the project.


The Union Station Master Plan will guide future development of the station to help it become an even greater destination. This conceptual animation offers a glimpse of how the station may evolve over the years to come.

A look at the future of LA Union Station



Showing the latest posts relating to: Union Station Master Plan

One Day in LA video looks into the future of Union Station
Posted by Anna Chen on August 14, 2014 12:41 pm
A nice, short video on beautiful Union Station by FORM follows FUNCTION. The video interviews Metro Deputy Executive Officer Jenna Hornstock, who provides a brief overview of the Los ...
Connect US seeks to better link Union Station to neighborhoods via new esplanades and bike paths
Posted by Steve Hymon on July 23, 2014 11:10 am
View this document on Scribd As most of you likely know, Metro has been developing the Union Station Master Plan to preserve the historic train depot while also renovating it and redeveloping parts ...
Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 2
Posted by Steve Hymon on July 2, 2014 9:58 am
Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Pick your social media ...
Reflections on Union Station: an essay by John C. Arroyo
Posted by Heidi Zeller on June 25, 2014 3:32 pm
On the occasion of Union Station’s 75th anniversary, Metro created a special commemorative publication, Union Station: 75 Years in the Heart of LA, featuring eight written and five photographic ...
Transportation headlines, Wednesday, June 4
Posted by Steve Hymon on June 4, 2014 10:36 am
Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Pick your social media ...
Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 3
Posted by Steve Hymon on June 3, 2014 9:55 am
Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Pick your social media ...
More details and renderings on the evolving Union Station Master Plan
Posted by Steve Hymon on June 2, 2014 8:04 pm
A rendering of the Union Station property in the future after the Master Plan is implemented. Click above to see larger. This rendering shows the new concourse and bus plaza, which would move from ...
Community meeting on June 5 for Union Station Master Plan update
Posted by Steve Hymon on May 20, 2014 12:25 pm
Work continues to chug along on the Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan; please see the above flier for the upcoming meeting on June 5. The Metro Board last year approved a plan concept that ...
The week that was: more photos and video from Union Station’s big birthday party
Posted by Steve Hymon on May 9, 2014 1:05 pm
Photos by Peter Atkinson and Joshua Southwick/Metro We’re still sorting through photos and videos shot at Saturday’s celebration for Union Station’s 75th ...
Signage project to improve way-finding at Union Station is set to begin March 11
Posted by Steve Hymon on March 10, 2014 9:00 am
View this document on Scribd When Metro started the Union Station Master Planning process, the agency kicked off with a series of focus groups including many kinds of stakeholders – transit users, ...

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