Last week, I got an awesome tour of Union Station from Metro’s Deputy Executive Officer of Countywide Planning, Jenna Hornstock. I learned about some very exciting changes coming to the busiest rail station west of the Mississippi. Basically, you have two different timelines for planned improvement projects: short term and long term changes. Both are very exciting because it means Union Station is going to get better and better and play a much more prominent and vital role in our region’s growing mass transit network.
List of exciting short term changes coming to Union Station:
- All brand new wayfinding signs will replace existing ones at Union Station with the goal of making it easier for transit riders to navigate the sprawling station including where to find the elusive Flyaway pick-up spot. New signs will also have a consistent design theme that not only strive to complement our historic rail station but give it a stronger identity as well.
- New electronic displays will be installed throughout the station including new Amtrak and Metrolink destination schedules in the main seating area and real-time bus schedules displayed outside in the Patsaouras Transit Plaza. In addition, an interactive info kiosk will be installed in the East Portal near the Red Line subway entrance allowing riders to plan their trip or learn more about nearby communities.
- Repainting many parts of Union Station including the exterior of the historic facade facing Alameda and the newly exposed walls of the main concourse where non-historic tiles have recently been removed during the last few months.
- Other touch ups include refinishing the tunnel floors and restoring the metal framing of Union Station’s beautiful giant arched windows and other woodwork including the original ticket booths in the grand ticket hall.
- The historic grand ticket hall in the front of the station (closed to the public for many decades and only rented out for special events like wedding receptions) will soon be open to the public again as Metro is planning to activate it with possible commercial use (kiosks seem like a possibility).
The short term changes are exciting because we won’t have to wait very long to see some real quick but substantial improvements. Much of the list above will be implemented by this May 2014. However, the proposed long term master plan is really, really exciting. We’re talking about the expansion of the main concourse with a lot more retail space, a brand new consolidated bus concourse replacing Patsaouras Transit Plaza, the redevelopment of land around Union Station into mixed-use projects, and eventual hub for the California high-speed rail. And those huge changes will occur in phases throughout the next decade as the Metro Board of Directors is prepared to adopt the Final Master Plan this summer.
For more info about the Union Station Master Plan, check out Metro’s official transit blog, The Source.
Now back to the short term changes