Washington DC Union Station facilities, convenience and experiences

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
25,172
Location
Austin Texas
I'm having lunch right now at Unos before catching my train, it's really depressing upstairs. Mostly dark and empty storefronts.
🥺 Mall's, which is what Union Station had been turned into before the Pandemic are a Dying Breed, so more Trains are what is needed @ Union Station.
 

Mailliw

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
653
Location
Scranton, PA
Also what is up with the seating in the waiting areas now? There are huge empty spaces where seats used to be, but remaining seats are all close together pre-pandemic style.
 

daybeers

Conductor
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
1,704
Location
NHV
Anyone know the status of Amtrak's lawsuit to get full control of Union Station?
I personally won't miss Starbucks, but hate to see this place deteriorate.
Wow this was actually a great article. @joelkfla thank you for the unlocked link!

Starbucks definitely did not leave because of safety concerns and "challenging incidents". Probably due to low customers due to extremely low commuter rail and Metro ridership. Their anti-union activities don't help either.

The whole situation at WAS is summed up pretty well here by DC Council member Charles Allen: “But a lot of this, I believe, is ultimately driven by the fact that Union Station isn’t woven into the surrounding community like it needs to be to thrive. There’s little reason to go inside if you aren’t trying to catch a train.”

I lived in DC for two years and had family there for north of 30. Never once did any of us ever think about going to Union unless it was to catch a train. Everything but the "new" concourse is a beautiful space that could be worth spending time in with great, affordable, healthy food options, space to sit and relax, and revitalizing Columbus Circle outside to be more welcoming to every mode of transportation along with green space. The DC Streetcar is a joke and dedicated lanes, a proper connection to Union, and an extension west to Georgetown. Bike lanes, bus lanes, businesses, and residential units. The parking garage is hardly used anymore and the bus terminal is embarrassing.

No idea why the government thought it was a good idea to give control of the station to anyone but Amtrak in the 80s.

It is so disconnected from the city and that needs to be remedied, fast. That doesn't mean 18 years. That means less than 5 for god's sake.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,711
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
The Pizzeria Uno Bar and grill has been a reliable option for eating during layovers. Union Station is physically located in an out-of-the-way area that would limit people going there for reasons other than catching trains.

IMHO the Washing Metro does not conveniently connect Union station to the mall and the museums.
However, the very popular DC Circulator bus runs all along the National Mall and on to WUS. (Actually, the stop is at the edge of Columbus Circle about half a block from the station's front entrance.)
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
34,419
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
This couldn't be further from the truth. It's right in the middle of the city with the above mentioned bus service and metro service.
And it is a short walk to the Capitol. How much more central can you get?
 

Trollopian

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Messages
377
Location
Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA
And it is a short walk to the Capitol. How much more central can you get?
The Pizzeria Uno Bar and grill has been a reliable option for eating during layovers. Union Station is physically located in an out-of-the-way area that would limit people going there for reasons other than catching trains.

IMHO the Washing Metro does not conveniently connect Union station to the mall and the museums.

I spent my post-federal career commuting to a think tank near Union Station. It was thronged with Senate staffers, think-tankers, network news operations that need to be near the Capitol, the administrative offices of U.S. Courts, several regulatory agencies (FERC and SEC), National Governors Association, a couple of schools, and the list goes on and on. (It's interesting to see who buys the advertising space in the station. There are a remarkable number of ads for weapon systems, narrow legislative or regulatory issues, and the like. I can only assume they know their audience.) The Maryland and Virginia commuter railways, MARC and VRE respectively, terminate there. Historically the Union Station Metro stop is the system's busiest though admittedly those numbers are swollen by people who are transferring between MARC or VRE and other DC employment hubs like the busy Farragut area.

This was B.C. (Before COVID), but when I commuted to Union Station it'd routinely take several minutes' wait just to get on an escalator to exit the station. I purposely didn't think what would happen if it had to be evacuated fast. Some of that pressure has been relieved by opening of the nearby NoMA "infill" station and, of course, by work-at-home.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
25,172
Location
Austin Texas
The Pizzeria Uno Bar and grill has been a reliable option for eating during layovers. Union Station is physically located in an out-of-the-way area that would limit people going there for reasons other than catching trains.

IMHO the Washing Metro does not conveniently connect Union station to the mall and the museums.
I disagree, it's right in the Middle of the Capitol Hill Complex, and there's lots of Transportation and Activity (in the Daytime) all over the area.

If you'd been talking about Union Station in Chicago I'd agree!
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2022
Messages
10
Location
Virginia
Really? There are several Metro stations within 4 blocks of the Mall/Museum. At least 2 are on the Red Line. The others are easy transfers from the Red Line.
Not to mention the Connector bus svc if that is still running.


correcton,I meant the DC Circulator not Connector. (I've been covid hibernating)
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Nov 3, 2022
Messages
10
Location
Virginia
Wow this was actually a great article. @joelkfla thank you for the unlocked link!

Starbucks definitely did not leave because of safety concerns and "challenging incidents". Probably due to low customers due to extremely low commuter rail and Metro ridership. Their anti-union activities don't help either.

The whole situation at WAS is summed up pretty well here by DC Council member Charles Allen: “But a lot of this, I believe, is ultimately driven by the fact that Union Station isn’t woven into the surrounding community like it needs to be to thrive. There’s little reason to go inside if you aren’t trying to catch a train.”

I lived in DC for two years and had family there for north of 30. Never once did any of us ever think about going to Union unless it was to catch a train. Everything but the "new" concourse is a beautiful space that could be worth spending time in with great, affordable, healthy food options, space to sit and relax, and revitalizing Columbus Circle outside to be more welcoming to every mode of transportation along with green space. The DC Streetcar is a joke and dedicated lanes, a proper connection to Union, and an extension west to Georgetown. Bike lanes, bus lanes, businesses, and residential units. The parking garage is hardly used anymore and the bus terminal is embarrassing.

No idea why the government thought it was a good idea to give control of the station to anyone but Amtrak in the 80s.

It is so disconnected from the city and that needs to be remedied, fast. That doesn't mean 18 years. That means less than 5 for god's sake.
I lived in DC area for a long time (and still do) and many times walked from Capitol Hill and other DC areas to Union Station (or vice versa). The metro also connects right there as do numerous bus lines and DC metro is also right there to take you to various places in DC, VA, and MD. There is or was also a streetcar going from the back into H st NE. And there is or was the Connector buses which take you to various neighborhoods. At Union Station the MARC train takes commuters and others to to MD, and the VRE takes them to Virginia. Several long-distance bus lines also leave from there and it is possible to take Metro from Union Station to DCA and, as of today, to Dulles Airport. (It's also possible to take the MARC train from Union Station to BWI. Union Station is right in the city. You are a few blocks from the Capitol, Chinatown, etc. The Connector goes right to the Mall as do a couple metro stops. Really it is quite easy to get to, from, and to many parts of DC from Union Station.
 
Joined
May 6, 2021
Messages
14
Location
Atlanta
The Pizzeria Uno Bar and grill has been a reliable option for eating during layovers. Union Station is physically located in an out-of-the-way area that would limit people going there for reasons other than catching trains.

IMHO the Washing Metro does not conveniently connect Union station to the mall and the museums.
Apparently it's an unpopular opinion but I agree with you on this one - both on Uno Pizzeria being the best place to eat and on Union Station not exactly being the center of town. The silver / blue / orange lines offer a one-seat ride between basically all of DC's biggest tourist destinations, but getting to Union Station requires a transfer to the red line. Same goes for walking: there are all sorts of museums and monuments between the Capitol and the reflecting pool, but between Union Station and the Capitol is just a 20 minute walk among uninviting office buildings and an unremarkable, if pretty, park. As to the bus - I will only say that the people discussing it will know better than me becaise I've never once ridden it.

Unless you're going to the postal museum (not exactly DC's top attraction), nobody just passes by Union Station on the way to someplace else. It could be worse (Maricopa Station, anyone?), but there is a lot that could still be done to integrate Union Station with the far livelier National Mall area IMO.
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,850
Location
Virginia
DC's Union Station is really neither convenient nor inconvenient. It is a bit out of the way vis-a-vis a lot of touristy things, but it's not really in the back end of beyond either. It's only a few blocks from the Capitol (and so on). Basically - it could be worse, and I'm struggling to think of too many "better placed" stations vis-a-vis major tourist/business districts. Chicago and New York, yes. LA - there's nowhere "great" there. Philadelphia - not a great location (across the river, etc.) New Orleans? Not really. Atlanta? Nope. Miami and Orlando? No way. Honestly, it's comparable to Richmond Main Street.

So, while saying that it is "better than most cities" might be damning it with faint praise, that also fits.
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
5,216
Location
Baltimore. MD
I think a lot of the convenience of the location of Union Station depends on (1) your tolerance for walking, (2) where you need to go, and (3) the weather. Washington is a pretty decent town for walking, with nice wide sidewalks in the downtown and motorists who (usually) obey the traffic laws. On my trip last week to see the doctor, I took the Red Line, a one-seat ride to Farragut Square and the K Street lobbyists corridor. I did have to walk a block to the doctor's office on Eye St. (The Red Line, by the way, also gives a one-seat ride from Union Station to the Zoo.)

After I finished with the doctor, I took the Blue line from Farragut West to L'Enfant Plaza and walked 2 blocks to the American Indian Museum. After I was done with my visit, I walked back to Union Station. It was a nice day, and a pleasant walk, all of the crossing of major streets had perfectly good traffic signals.

The Red Line to Blue/Orange/Silver at Metro Center to get to Smithsonian Station works perfectly well and lets you look at the intersecting barrel vaulted Metro Center Station. However, it's also not much of a walk down 12th St. to get to the Mall if you don't want to change trains.

It's also important to remember that the system was designed primarily to get people to and from work, and, as someone who used the Metro to get from Union Station to my office, it worked pretty well for that. I usually just walked two blocks down 13th St., but if the weather was bad (and I mean icy sidewalks or a real downpour), I could transfer trains and get off at Federal Triangle, right at my front door.
 

Ryan

Court Jester
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
18,004
Location
Off looking for his sense of humor
Union Station not exactly being the center of town
1668882928068.png

That may well be the case if you’re a tourist (although I would still argue that literally the center of town) is right on top of where you want to be), but if you’re someone that lives and works here, the calculus is different. Would it be better if the station was serve by multiple metro lines? Sure, but changing trains isn’t rocket surgery.

There is a lot more to DC than The Mall.
 
Top