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.