Survey shows what patrons most want from an improved Union Station


A word cloud of write-in answers to the most desired amenities.

In a recent survey, Metro recently asked patrons what they would like to see in an improved Union Station. Among the upgrades requested:

  • Easier access to surrounding neighborhoods
  • Better connections between transportation services
  • More options for dining and shopping
  • Enhanced passenger information & help guides
  • Additional or improved signage
  • Better bicycle access and parking
  • Additional transportation options

Metro Research & Development worked with the Union Station Master Plan team to conduct the survey of Union Station visitors. The survey collected data on how people are currently using the station, as well as which new amenities are most desired in and around the new station. Metro purchased Union Station in 2011 and the Master Plan will create a blueprint on how to upgrade the station and develop the areas around it while, of course, preserving the famous structure.

The survey was conducted online from January 28 to February 6 and with paper surveys that were distributed in and around Union Station on Jan. 31. All told, 329 paper surveys and 1,735 online surveys were collected.

When looking at the results, keep in mind that web respondents tended to be less frequent users of the station (not regular-commuters), while paper survey respondents were more likely to use the station on a daily or weekly basis (regular commuters).


We asked patrons how they arrived at Union Station and how they left to reach their destination. Online survey respondents were more likely to be Metro Rail riders, and less likely to walk, bike or take Amtrak or Metrolink.


Presently, most people who frequently use Union Station are currently doing so only for transportation. However, others are also taking advantage of shopping, dining and recreational activities. A third of users are coming to the station for recreation and entertainment, and a quarter are using it for dining and shopping.


Out of 12 suggested improvements, seven stood out as being more desired than the others:

  • Easier access to surrounding neighborhoods
  • Better connections between transportation services
  • More options for dining and shopping
  • Enhanced passenger information & help guides
  • Additional or improved signage
  • Better bicycle access and parking
  • Additional transportation options

The other suggested improvements were:

  • More space to circulate through the station
  • More public art and activities on station property
  • More waiting areas and seating
  • Increased security
  • Additional parking (tip: there is usually space on level four of the parking garage).


More graphics after the jump — keep reading please! 


An analysis of survey respondents by zip code shows an interesting pattern. Most patrons actually live close to the station, but significant numbers of respondents were from more distant areas, likely due to the farther reach of services like Metrolink.

Zipcode Distribution USMP_04-01

Thank you to all who participated in the survey online or in the station! Your input has helped to give us a better idea of what you would like to see at Union Station, and will help team move forward with developing plans for the station.

For more information on the Union Station Master Plan project and to keep apprised of upcoming meetings, check our website and our facebook page for details.

11 replies

  1. What we need is better signage. I am a volunteer for Metro Art and when I walk through the station, people are always asking me “Which track is for…?”. One idea would be to have monitors in the tunnels to indicate which track is for which destination.

    I also agree with the previous post about the bathrooms. I’ve only been in the men’s room, but it often smells very offensive. I must admit that the last time I was there at the beginning of March, 2013, it seems just a tad cleaner.

  2. I totally agree with Johnny Cheezy about the restrooms. And the subject should have been on the survey. I ride Metrolink 5x a week. The Ladies Room is usually well-stocked w/paper, but some of the stalls don’t have hooks to hang your stuff on – they’re broken off – and I certainly don’t want to put my stuff on the floor, so I have to wait for a stall that I know has hooks. It wouldn’t be so difficult to put new hooks where the broken hooks are. I’ve seen some visitors walk in and go Ewwwww but I don’t know if the room can be remodeled or not. Also, they took away the other nearby restroom when they put Famima’s in. There is often a LONG LONG line waiting to get into the Ladies Room. And sometimes a certain clearning lady will be mopping individual stalls while there is a line outside to get in, and she puts cones up so you can’t go in the mopped stall, making the waiting time even longer. At least they finally put a door on the stall that was without a door for about 6 months. I know the MTA employees have their own restrooms, but if they’d just have to experience what we go through to get into the public ones, it might make a difference.

  3. The interior of Union Station has all the ambiance of a funeral home, and its floor of its “passenger waiting room”. the color of tiled vomit! Bring the interior INTO THE 21ST CENTURY! PLEASE! And yes, have the Silver Line GO INTO THE Patasouras Plaza! There is no reason it should not!

  4. I meant so say the new and coming soon permanent solution to El Monte busway buses platform would still require quite a hike and some time to walk to make a connection.

  5. Victor C.: I’m with you. There is a way all buses in both directions can access the plaza today and until the new platform is built, but even that solution seems to require quite a hike to Union Station and that means too much time to make connections.
    Johnny Cheezy: you are right on. MTA needs to spend whatever it takes to even REPLACE the current restrooms and get them up to capacity and up to clean standards. LA County Health Clinics have pretty clean restrooms, and if they can do it . . . It just takes commitment.
    Human Circulation is awful. I usually have to go to the end of the platform and walk to track 2/3 to enter the pedestrian tunnel because the stairway and ramp are so inadequate. Also the lack of an escalator at Gold Line track 1/2 really slows things down when I can’t make headway UP the stairs because a trains has just let out about 100 people all steaming down both sides of the stairway, and YES, it has caused me to miss a Gold Line trains I otherwise would have made.
    The current large board used to list all trains is really inadequate. I understand that was the original design, but Metro should design a much larger one befitting the architecture and with MORE info and put one at the EAST portal, as well. It would be nice to have that info there instead of walking all the way to the West end. And better sings inside the tunnels, as well, and something better in concert with the architecture instead of the cheap, garish green lights now in use and better signs on all the train platforms.

  6. My one concern that every human needs is bathrooms. Since I am a male, I can not speak for the females, but the mens bathrooms are totally “yuk eww gross …” I go through Union Station 4 times per week, to visit my son at Twin Towers, (he will be released 04/14/2013 yay!! hopefully has has learned) Anyway, I understand its difficult to keep a constantly used bathroom(s) perfectly tidy, but its sad that the bathroom(s) at M.C.J./Twin Towers are clean. Its also sad that in the last 6 months, I had to run like crazy to Tower II for there restroom because I could not “poop” at Union Station due the paperless roll of toilet paper. I wonder how many times in the last 6 months this has happened at times that I was not the person whom needed to go. Also why was this question not on the survey, as the old saying “no job can be completed ’till the paperwork is done.”

  7. Its horrible how Silver Line passengers need to walk 10 minutes to the main area of Union Station. Why can’t they temporary move the stop to Patsouras Transit Plaza until the new station for the silver line is made. The current “stop” at Union Station is not a station as Metro claims it is.

  8. I agree with Transit Rider.

    There needs to be some real planning going on not just at Union Station, but at all stations.

    Platforms need to be wider. Stairs need to be wider. Turnstiles need to go and replaced with wider state of the art electronic fare gates.

    Sooner or later those narrow platforms and stairs are going to spell disaster as people move and shove against each other. We don’t want people shoved off of platforms like the NYC Subway.

    More people using public transit means more people traffic. Metro needs to build station designs with large capacity in mind to future proof the system that many more people will be using trains in the near future.

  9. Foot traffic flow is a problem when it come to transferring big time. At 5pm, ever run from Metrolink to the Subway, and have to wait for the swarm of traffic to pass through the turnstyles or narrow staircases before going down to the platform, only to miss a train by 30 seconds? I have, big problem, and makes for getting home a half hour later! My 10-11 hour day just got extended because of something that costed half a minute.

    The Entrance/Exit System needs to be applied here, and at all major transfer points. There are just too many people without guidance running and rushing to catch whatever connection they need; Or just sitting on the stairs, which in my opinion should be a $1000 fine.

  10. One simple thing is something you can easily see from train platforms and as you go down the stairs and ramps into the station are signs that tell you which way is the bus plaza and which way is the main terminal. Currently I navigate based off of the Ben and Jerry’s signs!