Many of you are probably familiar with the Metro Customer Center at Union Station’s East Portal, but did you know there’s also an information booth at the other end of the station? The info booth, located just outside the old ticketing concourse, is part of the original Union Station and is staffed by 14 L.A. Tourism and Convention Board volunteers. The booth is staffed 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is a great resource for everyone visiting Union Station.
The volunteers play a vital role for those who pass through Union Station. They help up to 5,000 people a month, whether it’s navigating the station and the rest of the city, or just recommending things to do in L.A. The volunteers go through orientation and training, but many of them have lived in L.A. for years and already have extensive knowledge of the city.
One volunteer, Don Young, has been working at Union Station since 1996, which means he’s seen and heard a lot at this historic site. Ten years ago he was lucky enough to meet one of the Harvey Girls who had worked at L.A. Union Station’s Harvey House Restaurant. She showed him the old dormitory adjacent to the restaurant – an area not open to the general public and most people don’t even know exist!
Young also remembers visiting Union Station when he was much, much younger. The biggest impression it made on him was that the waiting area was integrated – not the case at the time in his hometown, Oklahoma City.
According to Young, the three most asked questions at the info booth are 1. Where is the restroom? 2. How do you get to Olvera Street? and 3. Is there a McDonald’s here? Which means there should really be a McDonald’s at Union Station!
Young is clearly dedicated to helping all who drop by the info booth, often stepping out of the booth to walk travelers around the station if they seem especially lost. He works shifts Wednesday through Sunday and welcomes anyone who’d like to drop by and learn more about Union Station.
Another volunteer, Mark Ferem, previously worked at the Downtown BID and knows plenty of interesting factoids about Los Angeles. “I love L.A. I was born and raised here, I’m an L.A. native!”
Ferem loves sharing his knowledge with others and helping them maximize their time when visiting L.A. so they can love the city as he does, and those that he’s helped clearly appreciate him – many make it a point to visit the info booth a second time just to thank him for his assistance. For Ferem, the reward is in seeing visitors embrace and enjoy their journey.
Ferem has met and helped numerous tourists visiting L.A., and recently he’s seen an uptick in locals coming to explore Union Station and rediscover the city via Metro. “It’s so great to see Union Station become a destination, and people are so excited to take transit.” Ferem volunteers at the booth on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays, so if you see him around, don’t be shy and say hi!