Advisory: seating area at Union Station now open only to Amtrak and Metrolink passengers

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UPDATE, 1:50 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Metro is working on creating a smaller waiting area for BoltBus and Megabus customers. 

Los Angeles Union Station patrons may have noticed a change that went into effect Monday: the seating area at the front of the facility is now available only for passengers with tickets to board Amtrak or Metrolink trains within two hours of their departure times.

Union Station is owned by Metro and agency officials say the change was prompted by an increased number of homeless individuals who have been using Union Station as shelter — an average of 135 per night in recent weeks (numbers were higher over the summer). That, in turn, has at times created extremely unpleasant sanitary issues in the seating area that in some cases posed a health threat to passengers using the station.

Metro had been receiving complaints about the number of homeless in the station for quite some time and over the past summer began trying to find some remedies to the issue, said Ken Pratt, the director of Los Angeles Union Station Property Management for Metro. That has included bringing in workers from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority who have been meeting with homeless individuals to try to connect them to shelters, potential housing opportunities as well as psychological and medical care.

The new rules for the seating area are part of a pilot program. Security guards will be checking tickets in the seating area. The seats are not open to Metro riders because Metro bus and rail service at the station is frequent compared to long-distance and commuter rail offered by Amtrak and Metrolink.

The pilot program comes as Metro is beginning more work to restore Union Station, which opened in 1939. In coming weeks, some of the seats in the waiting area will be removed so that wood and metal materials can be reconditioned.

“All this really comes down to this question: who does Union Station really serve?,” Pratt said. “Our customers were being accosted and couldn’t even use the restroom at times because people have been camping in there. We really are trying to do this on two fronts — not just enforcement, but with outreach to homeless in the area surrounding Union Station to bring people to services they need and services to individuals. We are trying very hard to figure things out and working to solve this problem in the right way.”


Coffee tastes better and is more likely to wake you up when served in new Metro mug available in new Metro store!

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Isn’t she lovely? The 15-ounce mug was added today to the new Metro online store. At $6.75, it’s just screaming to be stuffed into stockings or squirreled away for next year’s Chanukah.

Long Beach through the eyes of artist Christine Nguyen

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Have you spotted the latest poster from the popular Through the Eyes of Artists series riding rail and bus? Long Beach artist Christine Nguyen designed an imaginary, underwater dreamscape that playfully intertwines jellyfish, sea vegetation and caves with iconic Long Beach landmarks, including the Astronaut Islands, El Dorado Nature Center and the Walter Pyramid at California State University, Long Beach.

Metro commissions local artists to create original artworks for the Through the Eyes of Artists poster series, which expresses the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore destinations served by the agency. The newest design, celebrating Long Beach, is the 30th poster in the series.

For more information about this award winning series and to view all 30 posters, click here.

Union Station has starring role in new Pharrell Williams 24-hour video for ‘Happy’

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At the risk of sounding like I’m aware of current trends in pop culture, you simply must drop everything and watch Pharrell Williams’ new music video for his song “Happy.”

It’s not just a regular video — it’s a 24-hour video featuring different people dancing to the song across Los Angeles. That includes more than a dozen different people dancing at Metro-owned Los Angeles Union Station beginning at 9:53 a.m. of the video’s 24-hour clock.

Screen grabs are above of the different dancers (I think I got most of them). The video was filmed earlier this year.

P.S. If the dancer at 9:57 a.m. would like to be extensively interviewed for The Source, click here to reach me.

Then & Now: Vermont & 8th, 1950 vs 2013

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Our latest installment in our Then & Now series takes us to the intersection of 8th & Vermont in Los Angeles. The top photo was taken Sept. 2, 1950. I took the bottom photo last month, so roughly 63 years later.

What’s changed? The Bank of America building is there still — sans the bank and now under a coating of stucco or stucco-like substance. The church is still there, too — now with solar panels.

The old Los Angeles Transit Lines streetcar is, of course, gone to the mists of time. Matching the photos was a bit difficult as the Vermont bus no longer turns west onto 8th Street. But you get the idea.

Again we find that a lot of Los Angeles’ past has survived into the 21st century. I think in some ways that’s a good thing — but it sure would be nice to see a lot less stucco and newer buildings a little more architecturally inspired than the apartment building in the bottom photo between the old bank building and the church.

RELATED POSTS:

Then & Now: 11th & Broadway, the land that time forgot

Then & Now: a streetcar and a bus on Brand Boulevard in Glendale

Photo gallery: streetcars in Los Angeles in the 1940s in glorious black and white

Then & Now: downtown Sierra Madre

Then & Now: In L.A. getting rid of streetcars easier than getting rid of billboards

Then & Now: a streecar and a bus in Highland Park, 1955 and 2013

Then & Now: streetcars along the Crenshaw/LAX Line alignment

Then & Now: a streetcar and a bus on Florence Avenue in Inglewood, 1955 and 2013

Metro Art Moves: Fall Art Tour Nov. 7

tour_nov_sourceOn Thursday Metro continues its free art tours, Metro Art Moves. The tours pair local artists with docent guides, who share stories about the artworks and lead activities to heighten tour-goer engagement, demystifying the Metro system along the way.

Meet promptly at 5:30 p.m. at the Union Station information kiosk, just inside the Alameda Street entrance.

The guided, artist-led tour will lead to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), which offers free admission on Thursday evenings.

Want to grab a snack before Metro Art Moves, or feeling a little hungry afterward? Show your TAP card and take advantage of special Metro Destination Discounts at locations near the tour route:

Union Station
Traxx Restaurant at Union Station

7thStreet/Metro Center Station
• Casey’s Irish Pub
• Boba 7
• Qdoba
• Tossed

Pershing Square Station
Noé Restaurant & Bar at the Omni Hotel

Check out MOCA’s new permanent collection on view starting Oct. 5 and receive a 2-for-1 discount when you show your valid TAP card at the box office.

General Information
Fall tours take place on the first Thursday of October and November from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Tours begin at Union Station and end just north of Pershing Square Station at MOCA.

Tours have limited capacity.

The tours are approximately 90% walking; there are elevators and escalators in all of the stations.

Restrooms are available at Union Station and at MOCA.

Metro Art Moves Tours

Metro Art Moves tours are designed to attract new riders through arts-based transit experiences. The tours highlight Metro’s diverse collection of artworks, heighten the passenger experience in fun and engaging ways to boost public perceptions about transit, promote rider etiquette and offer opportunities for discovery.

Metro Art Program

Metro Art implements the agency’s percent for art program, manages the care and maintenance of the system’s existing artworks and directs a volunteer docent council. From rail and bus stations to construction fences and poetry cards, art creates a sense of place and engages transit riders.

Since 1989, Metro has commissioned artists to incorporate artworks into a wide array of transportation projects throughout Los Angeles County. The agency has received numerous design and artistic excellence awards, and is renowned for its approaches to integrating art into the transit experience, and for engaging artists at all levels of their careers.

Docent-guided tours are offered the first Saturday and Sunday of every month. Tours for groups of fifteen or more are also available by special arrangement. For more information visit metro.net/art and click on Art Tours or call (213) 922-4ART.

Preview of November Metro Service Council meetings

Due to two federal holidays this month — Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving — there has been a slight rejiggering of the Service Council meetings.

To avoid a conflict with Veteran’s Day, the San Gabriel Valley Service Council elected to shift their meeting to Wednesday, November 20. The time (5 p.m.) and location (Metro Division 9 building adjacent to El Monte Station) will remain the same.

The other Service Councils will conduct their meetings on their regular schedules, as indicated below. Please note that some of the presentations listed below are tentative at the time of this posting.

All November Service Council meetings will include a report from Metro Service Council Director Jon Hillmer, who will provide statistics on August ridership, performance and other measures of Metro service. Other agenda items at Council meetings include:

San Fernando Valley (6:30 pm, Wednesday, 11/6) –Presentation on East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Study; Presentation on Metro’s Bike Program; Report on Orange Line Lassen Bridge Closure; Update on Lines 94/794, 154 and 239 Proposed Minor December Service Changes.

Westside/Central (5 pm, Wednesday, 11/13) – Report on Dodger Express; Report on Expo Line/Bus interface with Culver City; Presentation on Metro’s Bike Program.

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