For a city known mostly for its embarrassingly robust driving culture and clogged freeways, it’s no surprise that LA lagged behind other large urban cities (i.e., New York, DC, Chicago, Philly, etc.) when it comes to train travel even though we’re the second largest city in the country. However, we are making great strides as the Pacific Surfliner — serving LA and San Diego up to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo — is now the busiest Amtrak route outside the northeast corridor with 2.7 million passengers in 2013. And now another symbolic sign that LA is getting its “train mojo” back is the opening of the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge at Downtown LA’s Union Station.
What was announced by Amtrak in 1992, the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge is now finally open at Union Station. The 21-year delay makes total sense since the notion of urbanism in Los Angeles — using trains or walking for example — was non-existent during that time when suburbia reigned supreme. When everyone lived in a cul-de-sac and drove everywhere, the last thing on anyone’s mind was a train lounge at some place no one’s ever seen called Union Station in that “scary” part of town called Downtown LA.
Oh how things have changed!
The new Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge quietly opened two months ago in late October and will be celebrating an official grand opening this week on Thursday, December 19, 2013 from 11 am to 2 pm. Located on the second floor above the Amtrak ticketing counter in the passenger terminal, the spacious lounge is stocked with comfy plush chairs with flexible tray tables (perfect for a laptop), an LCD television, complimentary snacks and drinks/coffee, ticketing assistance, and two things every traveler is grateful for: free WiFi and clean bathrooms.
According to Amtrak, Metropolitan Lounges are available to sleeping car passengers, business class passengers with the same day travel ticket (departure or arrival) and Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus or Select Executive members.
Los Angeles now proudly joins both Chicago and Portland as the third city in the country to have an Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge while the four major east coast cities — New York, DC, Boston, and Philly — have ClubAcela lounges that cater to passengers on the higher speed Amtrak service.
For more info, please visit Amtrak online.