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Union Station in Los Angeles, Californiamarker, which opened in May 1939, is known as the "Last of the Great Railway Stations" built in the United Statesmarker, but even with its massive and ornate waiting room and adjacent ticket concourse, it is considered small in comparison to other union stations. It was formerly designated the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT), but its current owner, Catellus Development, officially changed the name to Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS).

The facility served as a backdrop for the 1950 film Union Station, which starred William Holden and Nancy Olson. Many television shows and motion pictures have incorporated the station as a backdrop, including Blade Runner, Speed, Can't Hardly Wait, Star Trek: First Contact, Pearl Harbor, The Italian Job, The Island, Drag Me to Hell and the Fox television series 24.

Union Station is located opposite L.A.'s historic Olvera Streetmarker.


The waiting room at the Los Angeles Union Station
Art Deco lights hang from the rafters of the passenger terminal
A bird's eye-view of Union Station

Union Station was partially designed by the father and son team of John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson, or the Parkinsons, assisted by a group of supporting architects, including the famous Jan van der Linden. The Parkinsons also designed Los Angeles City Hallmarker. Their firm designed many landmark Los Angeles buildings from the late 19th century onward. The structure combines Dutch Colonial Revival Style architecture (the suggestion of the Dutch born Jan van der Linden), Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne style, with architectural details such as eight-pointed stars.

Enclosed garden patios are on either side of the waiting room, and passengers exiting the trains were originally directed through the southern garden. The lower part of the interior walls is covered in travertine marble, and the upper part is covered with an early form of acoustical tile. The floor in the large rooms is terra cotta tile with a central strip of inlaid marble (including travertine, somewhat unusual in floors since it is soft).

Attached to the main building to the south is a small masterpiece , the remarkable station restaurant designed by southwestern architect Mary Colter (the last of the "Harvey House" restaurants to be constructed as a part of a passenger terminal). Although now usually padlocked and stripped of many interior furnishings, the topology of its rounded central counter dynamically thrust forward, its streamlined booths, and the inlaid floor patterns still constitute a busy and evocative sense of place . The influential sci-fi film Blade Runner used shots of the waiting area as the 2019 police department.


The station originally served the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, Southern Pacific Railroad, and Union Pacific Railroad, as well as the Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway (LARy). Established on the site of L.A.'s first Chinatown, it saw heavy use during World War II, but later saw declining patronage due to the growing popularity of air travel and automobiles.

Now Union Station is once again heavily visited, especially since the construction of the Metro Red Line and Purple Line subway station and Gold Line light rail station. Union Station also serves as a terminus for 4 of Amtrak's long distance trains, is a major station on Amtrak California's Pacific Surfliner, and serves as the hub for Metrolink's passenger trains.

Historic designations

Current services

Metro provides service to Union Station in the form of three rail lines (Red, Purple, and Gold); and several bus routes at the Gateway Transit Center. Its headquarters is located in nearby Gateway Plaza. Amtrak, Amtrak California, and Metrolink serve the station as well. Both Metrolink and Amtrak trains provide direct rail service to and from Burbank-Bob Hope Airportmarker - the region's only direct rail connection between an airport and downtown. Los Angeles World Airports recently opened a FlyAway express bus service to Los Angeles International Airportmarker, similar to the one already in use for the Van Nuys area.

Union Station currently has 14 train tracks.
  • 10 shared by Amtrak, Amtrak California, and Metrolink
  • 2 for the Red and Purple Lines
  • 2 for the Gold Line

It hosts nearly 400 weekday train departures.
  • 182 on the Purple/Red Line subways
  • 102 on Gold Line light rail
  • 59 on Metrolink commuter rail
  • 35-36 on Amtrak

The attached Patsaouras Transit Plaza serves several bus lines including Metro Rapid and Metro Local lines, as well as downtown DASH shuttles and many municipal bus lines.


Long Distance Services

Amtrak offers four long distance trains out of Los Angeles:

Thruway Motorcoach Services
  • Amtrak offers Thruway Motorcoach Service at Los Angeles Union Station, buses board from the north side of the station, and not through the Patsaouras Transit Plaza.

  • Los Angeles/Las Vegas

Amtrak California Intercity Services

Los Angeles is a stop on the Pacific Surfliner running from San Diegomarker in the south to San Luis Obispomarker in the north, the only multiple-times-daily Amtrak service to Los Angeles.

Thruway Motorcoach Services
Amtrak California offers Thruway Motorcoach Service at Los Angeles Union Station. Buses board from the north side of the station, and not through the Patsaouras Transit Plaza. Connections to Amtrak California's San Joaquins line are provided through bus services to and from Bakersfieldmarker. Connections to ferry services to Catalina Island and the cruise ship terminals are provided by bus services to Long Beach & San Pedro.
  • Los Angeles/Bakersfield
  • Los Angeles/Bakersfield (via Santa Clarita-Newhall Metrolink)
  • Los Angeles/Long Beach & San Pedro
  • Los Angeles/Santa Barbara
  • San Diego/Bakersfield (via Los Angeles)
  • Santa Ana/Bakersfield (via Los Angeles)
  • Van Nuys to Los Angeles


Union Station is the "heart" of Metrolink's operations, acting as the major hub for the system and providing connections between six of Metrolink's seven lines. Service as of May 12, 2008:

  • 121 trains daily, Monday-Friday
    • 22 on the Ventura County Line
    • 24 on the Antelope Valley Line
    • 34 on the San Bernardino County Line
    • 12 on the Riverside Line
    • 19 on the Orange County Line
    • 9 on the 91 Line

  • 40 trains on Saturday
    • 12 on the Antelope Valley Line
    • 20 on the San Bernardino County Line
    • 8 on the Orange County Line

  • 28 trains on Sunday
    • 6 on the Antelope Valley Line
    • 14 on the San Bernardino County Line
    • 8 on the Orange County Line

Metro Rail System

Red and Purple Line Subways

The Red and Purple line subways share an island platform in the station's basement. The car yards are located just east of the station. This station serves as an important transfer point, with connections with Metrolink and Amtrak, and several bus routes at the nearby Gateway Transit Center. The Union Station is the eastern terminus for both the Red and Purple lines.

There are two entrances to the subway platform, one through the Patsaouras Transit Plaza on the east side of the complex and another through Union Station's main entrance on the west side of the complex, facing Alameda Street.

Gold Line Light Rail

Gold Line train platform at Union Station

The Gold line's platforms are also at this station on grade level. The Gold line's platforms are located beside those of Metrolink and Amtrak. The art installation is that of Beth Thielen. The artwork is entitled Images of Commonality/Nature and Movement.

Gold Line platforms are accessible only via a passageway containing a staircase and an elevator, and use Tracks 1 and 2. The Gold Line is the only rail line to run through Union Station, as all other rail lines use Union Station as a terminus.

Bus Services

Patsaouras Transit Plaza

The Patsaouras Transit Plaza is located next to Union Station on its eastern side, it provides a direct link to the rail services of Union Station and provides connections and transfers between many bus lines and serves as a major stop for two of Metro's Transitways. The transit plaza is part of the Metro Gateway Transit Center which includes the MTA headquarters building..

The following lines stop on Cesar Chavez Ave. & Vignes St., outside of Patsaouras Transit Plaza:
  • Metro Local: 40, 42, 68, 70, 71, 78, 79,378
  • Metro Rapid: 704, 728, 770
  • LADOT DASH: Lincoln Heights/Chinatown

The following lines stop on Alameda St. & Los Angeles St., outside of Union Station:
  • LADOT DASH: B (weekdays only), DD (weekends only)

The Transit Plaza is named after Nick Patsaouras, former RTD board member who was an advocate for public transportation.

El Monte Busway

All lines stop nearby at Alameda St. & the El Monte Busway entrance, except line 699 which has a stop within the Patsaouras Transit Plaza.
  • Foothill Transit: 481, 493, 497, 498, 499, 699, Silver Streak (All lines except for the Silver streak operate only during weekday rush hours.)
  • Metro Express: 484, 485, 487, 489, 490


Direct FlyAway Bus service is offered between Union Station and Los Angeles International Airportmarker. The blue buses operate every 30 minutes between 5 am and 1 am and on the hour between 1 am and 5 am from Berth 9 of the Patsaouras Transit Plaza. The service is mainly intended for those who are able to use public transportation to get to Union Station and then transfer to the bus to complete their journey. There is, however, a parking garage available for those who wish to drive to Union Station.

Run-through tracks project

With the number of trains using Union Station expanding, the stub-end layout of trackage at the station is becoming a liability. Trains are required to back out of the station (in push-pull configuration with the use of cab cars) resulting in delays as multiple trains must use the same tracks to get out of the station. The run-through tracks are envisioned for use by southbound trains departing Union Station: Amtrak Pacific Surfliners the Southwest Chief, and the 91 and Orange County lines of Metrolink, as they currently must make a near-180 degree turn just outside the station in order to proceed south. Northbound trains headed for Union Station would also use the run-through tracks allowing them to bypass the same curved track they must currently use. Most of the delays caused by the current configuration are suffered by arriving trains, as departures are usually given priority, often to free-up needed platforms and to keep departing trains from experiencing delays along their route should they depart late.

Caltrans and the Federal Railroad Administration have drafted a plan to create two run-through tracks that would connect the south end of Union Station with existing BNSF trackage south of US Route 101, which is directly south of Union Station. The Run Through Tracks would exit Union Station on a bridge crossing over the freeway, and continue on an elevated structure for approximately one mile until they reached the BNSF trackage on the west bank of the Los Angeles River.

The final environmental impact report was published by the FRA in November 2005.

California High-Speed Rail

Union Station is planned to be a major hub for the future California High-Speed Rail System. To accommodate the future service, three platforms with six tracks will be built on an aerial structure above the existing platforms. Upon completion, passengers will be able to get from Union Station to the planned Transbay Terminalmarker in San Franciscomarker in 2 hours and 38 minutes.

See also


External links

An aerial view of Los Angeles' Union Station from the late 1990s.

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