Metro Board approves Union Station Master Plan, allowing near-term projects to go forward

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors today approved actions to officially move the Union Station Master Plan, an ambitious long-range roadmap for L.A.’s single largest public transit hub, from planning to implementation.

Metro can now pursue its initial implementation strategy for near-term projects, which includes a programmatic environmental review of the recommended transit improvements as well as the commercial development program. Metro can also seek immediate funding opportunities for improvements to the station’s perimeter, and will form partnerships with the city and county, real estate and investment communities to support related implementation efforts.

“Today is a milestone day in our goal to bring ‘America’s Last Great Train Station’ into the 21st century,” said Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Chair. “Metro is now on the move to make Los Angeles Union Station a world-class transit hub.”

Planned improvements to Union Station’s perimeter include a series of streetscape, open space and transit stop improvements that soften the edges of the station, improve the pedestrian and cyclist experience, strengthen connections to and from the station’s entrances and create a more welcoming environment to transit riders and visitors. Foremost among these improvements is the planned removal of the surface parking lot on the northern side of the forecourt and the creation of a public plaza. This and other improvements will directly link with the El Pueblo Historic Monument, where apprxoimately $1 million in local open space funds has been identified to support the design and implementation of these improvements.

Metro was recently awarded other grant opportunities to improve four bus stops along Cesar Chavez between Alameda and Vignes, which includes creating shelters, additional seating and information, and bike facilities.  Metro has also received a grant from the Congestion Reduction ExpressLanes Net Toll Revenue Project and is providing matching funds to create a Metro Bike Hub on the west side of Union Station that will offer parking for about 300 bicycles, 24-7 secure access control, a space for bike retail and repair services, and a meeting/training space to conduct bike safety training workshops. This bike hub is expected to open in 2017.

The master plan improvements build on ongoing restoration and upgrades for the historic station, which have included new signage, restoration of the historic furnishings, woodwork, metalwork, chandeliers, and repainting. Further planned improvements are renovation of the 75-year-old roof and new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for the historic station. Work will be completed under the watchful eye of the Historic Architectural Consultant firm ARG and the Los Angeles Conservancy. In addition to restoration work, Metro has begun actively leasing spaces at the station. In the past six months, leases have been signed with Café Crepe, T&Y Bakery, and most recently two new kiosks for the east portal and a new gastro pub in the Fred Harvey restaurant, which will be developed and managed by downtown restaurateurs Cedd Moses and Eric Needleman.

Long-term plans, subject to the availability of future funding, call for a new expanded, multi-modal passenger concourse and the relocation of Patsaouras Bus Plaza to the west side of the property.  Both of these concepts are intended to improve the efficiency of transit operations and enhance the passenger experience at the station.

The master plan development program includes 3.25 million square feet of entitlements on the Union Station property.  The master plan preserves the historic station, which is registered as a national historical landmark, yet it also envisions new commercial development that will help make Union Station a world-class destination.  Possible development could include new retail amenities, hotel, housing and much more. 

Metro has been working on the Union Station Master Plan for the last two years with the assistance of a consultant team led by Gruen Associates and Grimshaw Architects.  The station opened in 1939 and primarily 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.

23 replies

  1. What’s the plan re: private development opportunities? Is there the possibility of funding some of the improvements with funds from developers, like the (disputed) program at SF’s Transbay?

    • Short answer: yes. The plan allows for more development on the 40-acre property and some of the components of the plan could be built/funded as part of a public-private partnership with potential developers of those buildings.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Has Metro attempted to undertake a market analysis? The skyscrapers in the renderings look nice, but one imagines that SF’s SoMa is a hotter commodity for developers than a site with scenic views of two huge county jails.

  2. Hooray! But, as it said to the METRO Board today, the Los Angeles Union Station Historical Society wants the new construction to blend better with the station’s historic Spanish Revival Art Deco styling.

    • Agree with all comments. This is a historic facility in the heart of a fairly young city. The current plan is generically modern, and IMO doesn’t enhance the station as a tourist destination. Plus I would imagine that rectilinear construction will be easier and cheaper to maintain as it is more modular.

  3. This looks great! I don’t even commute to downtown anymore and I’m excited for this. 🙂 Sorry if I missed it.. do the new plans incorporate the bus stops by the 10 freeway carpool entrance? That always felt like such an after thought and I had several safety issues there. It would be great if it became a part of the station.

  4. Is there a map that shows where Metro intends to build the Patsaouras Bus Plaza to the west side of the property? Isn’t the west side of the property is where people are dropped off and picked up?

    • Hi Warren;

      The third image is a map that shows the new bus plaza — it runs north-south and sits just west of the train platforms.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. Ask / encourage Greyhound to move their operations closer to Union Station and then there would be a truly intergrated transportation hub. Anyone see how far the bus station is? Not a good area to be at night…

  6. What about a previous proposal which called for to build a bridge to link the property directly to the El Monte Bus Way in order to serve the Sliver Line and Silver Streak? I thought that the revenue from the tolls will be utilized to improve public transit.

    • Hi Ivan;

      I’m not sure what happened to that proposal, but there is a bridge that runs diagonal across the property that would be near the new Silver Line platform to be built. Please see the bridge in the fourth image.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Hi Rick;

      No timeline yet. Depends on funding. The short-term improvements are scheduled for the next two-three years. The big ticket items such as the new concourse and moving the bus plaza will, of course, take much longer.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  7. I hope there will be more women’s restrooms or at least more stalls installed inside the existing ones. Especially on the Vignes side where you have fifteen women waiting for five restroom stalls!….

  8. I’m sure this has been mentioned before, forgive my lack of background. Does the plan really eliminate the apartment building at the SE corner of Alameda and Cesar Chavez?