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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.

When Metro began the Union Station Master Planning process last year, a consistent thread of comments emerged: people found the station confusing to navigate. This made catching a bus, finding the right exit or visiting nearby areas difficult. Rather than waiting until the full implementation of the Master Plan to address this current issue, Metro brough in Selbert Perkins Design, a local environmental graphics firm, to develop a plan to improve signage in the station. Work to implement this improved signage will begin March 11.

This signage plan was developed after extensive research on passenger movement patterns through the station. It will create a clear and consistent set of directional messages that also enhance the station’s historical beauty. New information technology hardware that Metro is pilot testing will also be included in these improvements.

Highlights of the signage plan include:

Preserve four existing historic signs.  Metro has been sensitive to maintaining the station’s history and will retain the few remaining signs from the station’s original construction.  A “gate” and the information cabinet will be removed and stored under careful supervision of an historic architect.

Open up the concourse. Clear sightlines from the passageway to the Alameda Street side of the station will simplify paths for travelers. This involves removing the gate and cabinet referred to above.



Move the “queuing” in the concourse. Crowds of baggage-carrying passengers lined up through the concourse and waiting room blocked the path of many other travelers. These passengers now get their information at the Amtrak service desk and wait in the historic seating area.

Add new electronic signage. To provide information to passengers in the waiting room, two new electronic LED signs will be installed. These signs will show current arrival and departure information for both Amtrak and Metrolink services, closely mirroring the data currently provided in the information cabinet. Metro has worked in close cooperation with Metrolink on this element.



Unify terminology. The signage plan also standardizes names of station elements and areas to improve general orientation and communication. We have designated “Union Station East” and “Union Station West” to help orient first time visitors, a convention that continues on maps and directional signage.

Improve perimeters.  New signage also includes several perimeter signs for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.  Pylons at the station’s three main corners -- Alameda/El Monte Busway, Cesar Chavez/Vignes and the entrance to Patsaouras Bus Plaza – will also be installed.  


Introduce new technology.  Metro’s trip planner and website, as well as other information on regional destinations will be available on a new pylon to be installed in the East Portal. The pylon will include four 55-inch interactive touchscreens and provide a clear marking point for Union Station East. The pylon will be located outside of travel paths so as not to create barriers to foot traffic and is part of an effort to develop a countywide system of similar units.


Upgrade bus bay markers at Patsaouras Bus Plaza.  To help clarify bus bay locations, Metro will install new markers. Each marker is also equipped with Metro’s real time NextBus system to tell passengers when their bus will be arriving.


These improvements and others are scheduled to be complete by May 3, when Metro will host activities commemorating LA Union Station’s 75th anniversary. Metro Headquarters parking garage is not included in this signage plan, but will be addressed in a later phase projected to be complete by Fall 2014. 

Sustainability Grant from Global Green

In January 21, 2014, Metro received a technical assistance grant from Global Green, USA for the Union Station Master Plan.  The grant provides sustainable design consultation with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program. We plan to pursue a LEED for Neighborhood Development designation for the Union Station Master Plan and this assistance supports our efforts.  Look out for more information on this at our next Community Workshop.

Celebrate Union Station’s 75th Anniversary

Much has changed since Union Station’s opening day back in May 1939!  Metro is planning to commemorate the station’s anniversary on Saturday May 3rd, 2014. This event will be combined with Amtrak’s National Train Day. Stay tuned for information about the festivities.

What’s Next?

Metro continues work on the Union Station Master Plan, which will help guide future development at the station, including transit operations and real estate development.  At its October 2013 meeting, the Metro Board of Directors approved the concept of an east-west concourse and relocating Patsaouras Bus Plaza to the west side of the property in a north-south configuration.  The Board directed staff to continue refinements, develop the financial plan and further define the sustainability goals for the Master Plan.  We have been asked to brief the Board again at a special workshop in June 2014.  Prior to that, we will host a community workshop with progress updates. Staff intends to present the Final Master Plan for adoption to the Board of Directors and at a community meeting in early fall 2014.  We will notify you when those workshops are scheduled.

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

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, ...
Maintenance and restoration work at Los Angeles Union Station to take place this winter and spring
Posted by Steve Hymon on January 2, 2014 9:01 am
Work being done in the old ticket room at Union Station. Photo: Metro. In 2011, Metro purchased Los Angeles Union Station, the hub of our region’s rail system and a busy bus stop for Metro and ...
The Source’s big, honkin’ 2013 roundup post has landed; take it, it’s yours
Posted by Steve Hymon on December 20, 2013 3:38 pm
UPDATE TUESDAY, 12:55 p.m.: I added a few items concerning Metro’s bike program that are worth putting on the record! :)  Above is the very nice rainbow seen Thursday afternoon over East Los ...
Roundup of today’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors; here’s what the agency’s deciders decided
Posted by Steve Hymon on October 24, 2013 4:20 pm
A long meeting today clocking in at four hours and five minutes — about 1 1/4 Hobbit movies by my estimation or enough time to watch the new Captain America trailer 180 times or so. In the ...
Metro Board to consider approval of concept for Union Station Master Plan that would add new concourse and relocate bus plaza
Posted by Steve Hymon on October 22, 2013 11:37 am
20131024rbmitem19handout Work on the Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan has been underway for more than a year, with Metro staff and contractors tackling some big questions about the best way to ...
New PowerPoint presentation available for Union Station Master Plan with some nice graphics and maps
Posted by Steve Hymon on September 18, 2013 10:54 am
LAUS Bd Workshop 091813 v8 Rev Above is a new presentation on the ongoing Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan process. The presentation was prepared for use at a Metro Board of Directors workshop ...
Transportation headlines, Tuesday, September 17
Posted by Steve Hymon on September 17, 2013 8:04 am
Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which ...
Free Screening of Alfred Hitchcock Film at Metro’s Historic Los Angeles Union Station on Friday, Sept 20
Posted by Heidi Zeller on September 11, 2013 7:30 am
Metro and Echo Park Film Center will host a free public screening of a classically enthralling Alfred Hitchcock film at historic Union Station on Friday, Sept. 20. Don’t miss the chance to see ...
L.A. Union Station Master Plan comment period is extended
Posted by Steve Hymon on August 20, 2013 11:53 am
Thank you to everyone who attended the Community Workshop on Thursday, August 1, 2013. We hope the presentation and workshop provided a clear understanding of the revised alternatives and our vision ...
Here’s the presentation and video from last night’s Union Station Master Plan community workshop
Posted by Steve Hymon on August 2, 2013 11:26 am
Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan community workshop Aug. 1 Couldn’t attend last night’s community workshop for the Union Station Master Plan? Above is the presentation given at the ...

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