Metro seeks OK to move Union Station Master Plan from planning to implementation

The Metro Board this month will consider recommendations for finalizing and implementing the ambitious Union Station Master Plan. That process begins Wednesday at the Board’s Planning Committee meeting at 2:30 p.m., with the full Board scheduled to vote on the issue at its Oct. 2 meeting. Here is the latest Metro staff report.

(UPDATE: At the request of Board Member Diane DuBois, the Planning Committee on Wednesday decided to consider the item in next month’s Board meetings in order to have more time to digest the plan and understand some components of it.) 

The staff recommendations set a path for short- and long-term projects and future commercial development at the station. Metro purchased Union Station from a private firm in 2011 and wants to turn the facility into a world class transit hub that can better handle a growing number of transit riders, protect the historic core of the station and accommodate high-speed rail and some development in the future.

One of the Metro staff’s primary recommendations is to officially begin a program environmental impact report (a ‘program EIR’ considers a series of actions an agency wants to take) for some of the big ticket improvements in the Master Plan, such as building an expanded multi-modal concourse under the current tracks and relocating the Patsaouras Bus Plaza closer to a raised north-south plaza on the west side of the train tracks.

The environmental work will also enable Metro to begin the first stage of near-term improvements to Union Station’s perimeter. Specific improvements include the removal of the surface parking lot on the northern side of Union Station’s forecourt and the creation of a public plaza.

These improvements, according to the Master Plan, “will soften the edges of the station, create better connections to the Civic Center and historical and cultural communities surrounding the station, and welcome transit riders and visitors to the public transportation hub of Southern California.”

Several grants have already been identified to help fund early design work for the perimeter improvements. Metro staff is seeking Board approval to pursue the grant opportunities.

Metro has been working on the Union Station Master Plan for the last two years. Union Station opened in 1939 and mostly served passenger trains connecting to cities across California and the United States. Ridership has increased tenfold since the station opened and is now approaching 110,000 trips per day. Daily ridership is expected to jump to nearly 197,000 trips per day by 2040 as the Metro Rail system continues to expand.

10 replies

  1. Thank you Mr. Sotero for your report. Do you know if the Master Plan includes a dedicated bike path that connects Union Station to the LA River?

  2. Wow. This reminds me of the New Transbay Terminal up in SF but better! As a daily traveler through Union Station, I am glad to see them pushing for such a grand vision, and why not. LAX is getting a complete makeover. California’s Central Train station deserves the same. I also love that there are plans to better integrate the station with it’s surrounding neighborhoods. That’s exactly what L.A. needs to do more of.

  3. As great as it is to work on connecting Union Station to the surrounding neighborhoods, let’s remember that the vast majority of people arriving at and leaving from Union Station are doing so by rail or bus. The primary focus of any re-design should be to make it work more efficiently as a transit hub.

  4. I really like the idea of turning the Alameda-facing parking lot into a pedestrian plaza.

    It looks like the plans involve the demolition of (among other things) 200+ condos at and near the southeast corner of Alameda and Cesar Chavez. According to Assessor’s records the buildings were built in 2006. It seems like a shame to lose that housing, both because housing is badly needed in greater LA and because the buildings were just built. From an environmental perspective, the energy it took to build those structures gets wasted.

  5. I for one have first hand knowledge of how much energy goes into preserving the historic station and how cautious Metro is to make sure that they do this project right. This a great change for the station and for Los Angeles as a whole. There are some very talented and caring people working on this project and really want to see LA Union Station be a destination transit hub that would attract people from around the world.