Video: Fly Through the Future Of Union Station



For rainy Tuesday night viewing, watch Metro’s updated Union Station explainer video.

Ridership expected to xxx by xxxx. Chart via Metro staff report
L.A. Union Station ridership expected to double from 2012 to 2040. Chart via Metro staff report [PDF]
There are plenty of big changes coming to Union Station in next few years. In October, Metro’s Board of Directors approved $15,000,000 for preliminary engineering and environmental work on the long-discussed cut-through tracks (officially called the SCRIP – Southern California Regional Interconnector Project.) During the SCRIP presentation, Metro staff presented the above bar graph showing forecasted growth in Union Station ridership. From 2012 to 2040, people using Union Station will double from current totals around 110,000 to an estimated 220,000 – with increases in people riding the bus, subway, and Metrolink/Amtrak, plus new high speed rail. 

There are too many projects to elaborate thoroughly today, but look forward to future SBLA coverage of Union Station improvements including:

  • Bike-Share: Metro’s 1000+ bike-share system is expected to open in downtown L.A. by mid-2016, including bikes at Union Station.
  • Bike Hub: Metro’s The Source reports that a Union Station bike hub is expected to open around 2017.
  • Silver Line BRT station: Reported by the Daily News, Metro is delayed in getting its new El Monte Busway Bus Rapid Transit station underway.
  • Pedestrian Plaza: Reported by KPCC, Metro was recently awarded a $12.3 million California Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant for “wider sidewalk, streetscaping and better crossing facilities at the Alameda Street entrance.”
  • SCRIP: According to last month’s Metro staff report [PDF], the new Southern California Regional Interconnector Project run-through tracks will increase the number of trains that can use the station each day from 180 to 278 trains, and reduce train dwell times from 20 minutes to 5 minutes.
  • GlobalLA

    Very nice project and it’s great to see some tall towers as part of the plan.

  • ubrayj02

    “We will cap the freeways! We will build glass boxes! But never shall ye see a pedestrian on Alameda that safely crosses.”

    I can’t wait for construction to start on 100% of the things that don’t matter to me as a user of Union Station.

    Things that matter deeply to me: safe and non-scary pedestrian entrances; protected (guarded) bike parking; clean bathrooms.

    Things IDGAF about: new buildings; ripping up the guts of the station; planting more “trees” using CAD drawings; construction for the rest of my adult life.

    They can build a flying bridge over the trains but they just … can’t .. narrow … a … single … street … around … the sta- … tion. Ith too hawd to do dat. But wook whud we can mak wif ow duplo bwocks!

  • Joe Linton

    Some of the “things that matter” to you are in the plans: pedestrianizing the Alameda entrance, protected bike parking – 300 space bike hub.

  • ubrayj02

    And Cesar Chavez and Alameda? Cesar Chavez and Vignes? Alameda and Arcadia/El Monte busway/5 freeway?


    Praise Allah for the bike parking. But no cycletracks/bike lanes leading into Union Station? I know it’s moving the goalposts from my earlier statement, but I feel like the focus is on stupid shiny new things instead of making things just work for people on the ground, day-to-day.

    The porta potties at Patsouras Transit Plaza are a half-assed god send. How about showers and lockers and a permanent bathroom setup instead of a flying pedestrian bridge built with borrowed money from my grand childrens sales taxable purchases?

  • Chewie

    This’ll be good. New buildings, especially office buildings, rght at the hub of the regional rail system obviously make a lot of sense in terms of generating ridership and funding for transit. The pedestrian plaza out front will be welcome, since the entrance is shockingly car oriented today, considering what Union Station is. I agree that the cleanliness of the restrooms leaves a lot to be desired, plus urinals without dividers, c’mon, that’s a little awkward. The interior remodel will be welcome too, since its getting a bit crowded in the central hall below the tracks.


    The proposed changes would compliment a bikecar on every train running through Union Station (at least). Can’t wait to see how the proposed changes encourages residents to use more ‘active modes’ of transportation.

  • Phantom Commuter

    The bikecars on Metrolink trains are hardly ever used outside of weekends. The result is less seating capacity on already crowded trains, with hundreds of peak hour commuters sitting on the dirty floor on their way home from work. Please…no more bikecars ! Serve the majority of riders, not a few vocal spandex cyclists !


    Contrary to your opinion, there is a growing bicycle culture — a bicycle commuting culture within the weekdays. Further, at the 12th of June Metrolink Board meeting earlier this year, a decision was made to incorporate a “Utility Passenger Car” (i.e., a 1/2-bikecar) on every Metrolink train by the end of the calendar year for bicycles and surfboards.

    The problem with the current situation is that there is not “consistency” in frequency and location (within a train). With the addition of a “consistent” (in location and on every train), bicycle commuters/adventurers will board in a defined area. You are more than welcome to sit on another car if you are without a bicycle. For the growing bicycle culture and in addition to other emerging programs to encourage active transportation (i.e., bike share programs), this solution will be useful over time.

  • Phantom Commuter

    You are more than welcome to ride your bike instead of taking up valuable seating areas on crowded trains.


    Each of us has a right to be on the train.

  • calwatch

    But you don’t have a “right” to carry a large amount of cargo with you. You pay the fare and occupy a seat. Now, if there is additional space, I have no problem with storing bikes, but on crowded trains, that space a bike takes up could accommodate one or two seated passengers. The only bike that does not take space would be a folding bike, properly folded and stowed underneath the seat in front or below you, or a bike on a bike rack in front of a bus.

    That bicyclist might not be riding the train if there wasn’t bike space, but if that person could be replaced by two other paying customers who now have seats, then banning bikes is actually a benefit to the agency since those two individuals have a much better ride and are more likely to keep using transit.

  • Phantom Commuter

    The Caltrain solution might be a better option. Take out a few seats in the front of the cab car and make a bike storage area. Every train has a cab car.

  • Phantom Commuter

    L.A. is insane. Can’t wait to get a job closer to home.


    That goes without saying — ALL passengers should read the instructions on the Metrolink website. There is no benefit to banning bicycles on public transit — not a viable or equitable solution.


    We are trying to motivate the Metrolink system to move toward the Caltrain model with a “bikecar” on every train. Caltrain is in the process of addiing a 3rd Bikecar to every train (which they are purchasing old rail cars from Metrolink). Change takes time.

  • Phantom Commuter

    Three bikecars on every train ? Complete overkill. The problem is not enough bike usage of the existing bikecar, taking up too much space and forcing many paying commuters to sit on the floor. On O.C. and 91-Line weekday trains, the bike areas are taken up by passengers, leaving no room for the bikes ! Bikes should have a “corral” in the front of the cab car. The loss of a a few seats would be better than losing the entire seating capacity on the bottom level of three coaches for just a few bikes.


    Caltrain is in the process of adding a 3rd bikecar to every train. The weekday numbers for each train seem to float around 80-90 bicycles per train. Metrolink is a completely different story — as you have pointed out in your earlier comments.

    Although, change has to start somewhere. Therefore, starting off with even a single dedicated (consistency in location and frequency) is a good place to build bicycle commuting. We understand that you are not for greater use of bicycles on board. This circular process (the chick and egg argument) will hopefully result in greater frequency of service on Metrolink’s part. As a result, more trains will provide more space and less crowding.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Actually the solution is to charge for a bike. That is common practice in Europe.

    For example, this picture from Germany Northrhine Westphalia region shows four options for “Fahrrad” tickets, which allow you to travel with your bike on commuter trains.

  • I would agree. The Netherlands does the same, which only makes sense since 40% of Dutch train trips begin by bike. There’s no way that they could fit upwards of 400k bikes on their trains every day, which is why they have excellent (usually free) bike parking at stations as well as bike share integrated into transit available at most.

  • Some trains are now standing room-only and Metrolink has even started using an eight car consist on one train a day on the San Bernardino Line because the trains are so crowded.

  • That’s Caltrain, not Metrolink. Although it should be noted that earlier this year, Caltrain opted for bike storage over bathrooms on their trains with the new electric models that they’re buying which is equally as ridiculous.

  • While bikes are a great way to get to transit, their benefits on transit are markedly more questionable. On buses, they add quite a bit of dwell time, though not necessarily more than loading wheelchairs. On trains, especially commuter and rapid transit oriented services, they take up valuable space on board that especially during peak hours, exacerbates crowding issues. If someone switches from transit back to driving due to being unable to find a comfortable spot on a train, that’s a net loss for society. Since more people can fit on a train without bikes than one with bikes, it’s an acceptable trade-off to have more people on the train without bikes, even if that means those with bikes go back to driving. Chances are, especially with infrastructure improvements that are being worked on, more and more bicyclists will find it acceptable to just ride anyway.

    As such, bikes and transit work best together when bikes are not on transit, certainly not in large quantities. Now to that end, I would certainly agree that bike parking at train stations in America is generally next to atrocious, if it even exists at all. That’s undoubtedly one reason that many people prefer to bring their bike on board. The lack of a bike at the other end is another reason along the same lines. However, adding decent bike parking is certainly cheaper than adding train capacity, though I’m sure that might not necessarily be a reviled move by the general populous. Transit operators should focus their efforts on expanding good bike parking at stations, not trying to provide space for bikes on board. If biking ever even reaches a decent fraction of Dutch levels, there would be no room on trains for bikes. But that point is too late to start looking at addressing the problem.


    Marvin, this speaks to a solution that does not simply involve adding seats that might have been removed for a bikecar. Really, Metrolink does need to step it up and add more trains (not just cars on each consist). I am rather surprised that they are not running more lines during the peak hours. Do you know why not? Has anyone really brought this up with the Board of Directors for Metrolink? Wow, I just looked at the schedule, that line is running trains almost every half hour during that time. I guess that Metrolink needs to step it up to every 15 minutes? What are your thoughts? Thank you for the video.


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