Using Lyft at LA Union Station

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Oreius

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Well, just 8 weeks until my big Coast Starlight trip—dependent on whether that burnt-out bridge is repaired in time. Here’s a question:

My parents and I are supposed to arrive in LUS at 9:00 PM—though I’ve read the Starlight can often be late. We are going from the station to Anaheim, but we must use Lyft or some other transportation as we are not renting a car. Should we use Lyft or should we reserve a private limousine service? It will be the three of us, plus 4-5 suitcases. Like I said, 9:00 is late, and the train can often be delayed.
 

neroden

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I have found taxis waiting at LA Union Station at every hour, including larger "van" type taxis. I would simply use a regulated taxi.
 

Oreius

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I get “free rides” as part of a promotion with my AGR Credit Card. Would I be able to “reserve” Lyft ahead of time once I know what time we are arriving at Los Angeles? Lyft would be cheaper than a taxi—I can ask for a van.
 

Oreius

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We’d have to take Lyft after Disneyland to get to LAX for our flight home to Baltimore. I wish it could be a train, but I’m not retired like my parents..☹
 

Oreius

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I checked a taxi fare estimate. It would cost us about $78 to get from the station to Anaheim…
 

Oreius

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I’ve asked for a quote from a reputable LA van service. It costs extra to get a bigger Lyft vehicle. A dinky car won’t do for three large adults and 5 suitcases…
 

adamj023

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Union station in Los Angeles, CA has a dedicated pickup and drop off location as posted below. Decide whatever transportation option you want to use. I have found Lyft to be most competitive due to promotions and availability of luxury vehicles including SUVs where prices come in at lower than car service and you don’t have to schedule a pickup or drop off early in advance.

 

Maglev

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I once arrived in Los Angeles on a tardy Coast Starlight at 1 am, and had trouble getting a taxi. Apparently there was one taxi serving the station, and none in the crowd waiting were able to get other cars dispatched. The driver would drop off one fare then come back to the station for the next in line. I was third in line and waited for an hour. Some of those waiting were able to get Uber or Lyft rides.
 

joelkfla

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I get “free rides” as part of a promotion with my AGR Credit Card. Would I be able to “reserve” Lyft ahead of time once I know what time we are arriving at Los Angeles? Lyft would be cheaper than a taxi—I can ask for a van.
My understanding is that prescheduling Lyft or Uber doesn't actually guarantee a ride; rather, it just causes their system to issue a request at the time you've set. I've heard that prescheduled rides can actually arrive early, which increases the chance of getting hit with a no-show charge if the driver gets there before you. The same can happen if you request the ride before you're actually at the pickup location.
 

roadman3313

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You could extend your reservation to connect to Amtrak 796 south from LA to Anaheim. The connection time is just over an hour and is guaranteed meaning Amtrak (in theory) would need to find a way to get you to your final destination should the connection be missed. You would then take a Lyft from Anaheim (or Fullerton) to your final destination (a local trip).

I mention this as I tried to Lyft back from Anaheim (Disneyland ironically) two weeks ago back to LA around 11pm just after park closing and it took almost 2 hours to get a driver who wouldn't cancel the ride due to it being too long at that hour. Just missed the last northbound Amtrak train by 2 minutes and the Thruway bus after that was sold out. You may have better luck from LA to Anaheim as there would be (in theory) more Lyft drivers at LAUS.

I haven't ever had an issue catching a Lyft from LAUS to local destinations and have done this several times in the past few months. I usually book Union Station West on the Great Hall side of the station. Just be sure to be waiting in the actual pick-up area as the security are pretty strict about moving cars trying to pick up outside of the pickup zone as it creates a traffic jam. I took the Starlight in was about 3 weeks ago and I had no issue getting a Lyft to a hotel in LA (granted the train arrived early around 8:20pm).
 

Oreius

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You could extend your reservation to connect to Amtrak 796 south from LA to Anaheim. The connection time is just over an hour and is guaranteed meaning Amtrak (in theory) would need to find a way to get you to your final destination should the connection be missed. You would then take a Lyft from Anaheim (or Fullerton) to your final destination (a local trip).
There is a Surfliner that runs that late out of LUS?? If so, do you think I should book it? Do they have checked baggage?
 

zephyr17

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There is a Surfliner that runs that late out of LUS?? If so, do you think I should book it? Do they have checked baggage?
Yes, there is. In fact, there almost always has been a Surfliner (San Diegan) that connected with the southbound Coast Starlight.

In fact, in Amtrak's very early days there was a through coach and sleeper to San Diego from the Starlight.

Unfortunately, while most Surfliners handled checked baggage until the pandemic, they haven't resumed checked baggage service, so, no, there isn't checked baggage service right now.
 

Rambling Robert

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My ride was astonished when we arrived at the drop off place at LAUS, firstly that we could park just to the left of the entrance - 4 way flashers on - then secondly she was able to get out of her car to say goodbye:

I tipped the Amtrak cop for hailing a redcap and gave the redcap a five and when the redcap dropped me off - I grabbed my two bags and got in line for a reserved seat. My redcap took off. I was stranded.

The elephant in the room is very long ramps to the track platforms. A popular tennis player once said: “Are you kidding me?” I had a cardiac event but I thought it was reparatory. How does LAUS get away with being so blatantly not ADA compliant?

How many people do the ramps kill a year? No joke.
 

zephyr17

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How does LAUS get away with being so blatantly not ADA compliant?
Same way Superliners do with their narrow, steep stairs, the ramps predate the ADA. Los Angeles Union Station was completed in 1939. The ramps on the north side of the tunnel are original and quite steep. The ramps on the south side were rebuilt in the 1980s when they built the Red Line subway beneath the platforms and passenger access tunnel. Those newer southern ramps, though significantly longer, are considerably less steep than the original ones on the north side. However, even those newer, less steep ramps pre-date the ADA, although those may actually be compliant, I am unsure. In any case, both the steep northern ramps and the gentler southern ramps are grandfathered in.

The Red Cap carts can navigate the less steep southern ramps. They can't really use the northern ones.

Not to worry though. The tunnel is slated to be replaced by a wide concourse, complete with shops, as part of the reconstruction of the platform tracks to allow through service. That will have to be ADA compliant since it will be new construction.
 
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Rambling Robert

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Thanks much Z for all the info. Funny I guessed in my head 1939. The waiting room is lovely Southwest motif but the doom ramps - even thise in the south. Since there are ramps for emergency egress the stairways could have been converted to elevators. I’ll bet the elevators would come with federal money.

in Emeryville I twisted my knee AND ankle boarding the California Zephyr. That’s a funny way to start a dream trip. haha. The asst. conductor fetched the conductor as I complained only 45 minutes out of Chicago. Both asked why didn’t I report the injury earlier / I said I was having to much of an experience. They knew.

When on the SWC we were running 2 1/2 hours late - according to the app. The last announcement that evening was that the asst. conductor and conductor would be in the dining car all nite for updates. It was around 3AM and I headed to the dining car. I explained I was meeting high school friends for the first time in 55 years and traveling in the SurfLiner. The AC said there are plenty of trains. Then in an unlit corner with the four teal strips on his shoulder boards said “you’ll prolly make it in time”. We did.
 

Oreius

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So, would it be wise to tack on the Surfliner to my existing reservations? My mom (and likely myself) will need a golf cart to get to the train based on your stories of the very long walk. I just had spinal surgery 2 weeks ago. Here’s my number one question: Should the Starlight be delayed, would Amtrak take care of our transportation to Anaheim if we “miss” the connection? I’d rather us 3 spend $45 rather than over $100. The Anaheim Resort has shuttles that can take us to our hotel from that station.
 

Rambling Robert

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I made the mistake of asking the Red Cap (cart driver) to wait after he stopped by the Amtrak ticket window/beautiful waiting room. It was a very short trip - the main cart ride is to - and up the ramp to the correct track platform.

In short appreciate the waiting room, find a red cap especially to take you up the ramp. You’ll be fine.
 

zephyr17

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You'll also be able to use Amtrak's Metropolitan Lounge to wait between trains. Before COVID, the Red Caps always used to come to the lounge before every train for any passengers that needed them. I don't know the practice now, though.

The only drawback is if you Red Cap to and from the lounge, you'll miss the stunning interiors of the station proper. The Red Caps go directly to and from the lounge, which is at platform level, without going through the station itself. The lounge, while quite nice, is a nondescript recent addition that resembles the public areas of a Marriott Residence Inn. However, if you and your mother are mobility impaired that might be a small price to pay.

It is a guaranteed connection. If you are one reservation, or manage to link the reservations, Amtrak will take care of you. However, how they will typically take care of you in that case would be to put you on the night bus to San Diego and intermediate points that leaves at 2:25 am.
 
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Oreius

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We’ve decided to use a van service. Prime Transportation. They’ll charge us $60 to take us from LUS to our hotel in Anaheim. We want to go to Disneyland the very next day, and just want to get to the hotel. Thanks for the suggestions.
 

Oreius

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My mother and myself do not like motor-coaches. The train probably wouldn’t be an issue, but if the Starlight is delayed and we miss the train, we don’t want to be crammed into a charter bus.
 

Sandwalker

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You could always buy the Starlight last minute, if your train ends up being in time for the 10:22 connection to Anaheim. The Anaheim station is a new one, right next to the stadium with lots of transportation options. Sometimes there's traffic even that late leaving LA, so personally I'd keep that open.

I used to live in Anaheim and visit LA frequently. LMK if you have any questions for the locale.
 
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