Posted 14 August 2017 - 04:17 PM
The thread titled Suitcases in Chicago got me to thinking about my recent experience at CUS. It has been a few years, around or less than 7, since I have traveled through Chicago. I found my July experience de-training EB to be more stressful than I remember that it had been.
Is the re-modeling of the Station done? If so, it seems to me that Amtrak has made it less customer friendly.
I felt the Concourse level to be confining with better signage needed. The Baggage Claim area did seem somewhat familiar. The Baggage Check-in area, as was stated in the previous thread, is next to Baggage Claim, but seemed rather small and inadequate for the business that I would think it does. After claiming my luggage, where to go to get a taxi? I had to search for a sign and then discovered I needed to find an elevator. Poor signage, again, slowed me down. Once I found the elevator, I was surprised, very negatively, that the taxi stand was across the street from where I was. I was not a "happy camper" by that point in time. The on-duty Amtrak policewoman with whom I spoke at the side of the Station/street to which the elevator delivered me appeared to sense that I was stressed and unhappy. She did her job to insure that traffic would stop as I crossed the street dragging my luggage. Once getting to the taxi stand, the Taxi Dispatcher quickly got me into a taxi.
Red Cap service appeared minimal. When I traveled through CUS before, there appeared to be many more Red Caps available to service a LD train.
I think I remember a CUS during the mid-late 1950' and early 1960's where the Concourse area was open and spacious. I recall, accurately or not which I now wonder, that one could stand outside the Gates for the North side tracks and see the Gates for the South side tracks. There were kiosks for the Pullman Conductors to check-in Pullman guests in that area. And, there was some limited seating. If my memory is accurate, it surely is not so now! It appears to be a maze to get from one side to the other. That's making the interior environment of the Station customer friendly?
I'd appreciate learning other posters reactions to my experience. Is my memory faulty? If so, don't shy from saying so; I won't be offended.
What might I have done differently to make my transfer from train to taxi (or even taxi to train) a better experience?
Don't blame Amtrak. The sale of the air rights and the destruction of the open Concourse building you are obviously describing took place before Amtrak (1968-70) and resulted in the maze you see today, sitting in the basement of the office building constructed in the Concourse's place. It was uglier before the 1990 Amtrak refurbishment, although Amtrak then moved all station services into the concourse at that time, which made it somewhat more cramped although much prettier (no more exposed cinderblock). The ongoing renovations now are at least partly attempt to reverse that mistake, and the changes have only gotten started. The move of the taxi stand to the other side of Canal by the Headhouse is in keeping with making more use of the Great Hall/Headhouse and returning it to its traditional role.
People rightly celebrate the preservation of Chicago Union Station, but really only one half of it was preserved, the headhouse/Great Hall. The Concourse suffered the same fate as Penn Station. Which makes sense, given that the Pennsy was the majority owner of Chicago Union Station. It was pretty much the same management that made both those decisions.
From what I have seen of the plans, the long term plan is to open up a lot of that space in the concourse again making it primarily a boarding area and moving services into the Headhouse/Great Hall, while still having to live with the office building overhead.
Edited by zephyr17, 14 August 2017 - 04:36 PM.
Pre Amtrak: SP Coast Daylight, AT&SF San Diegan, AT&SF Super Chief, D&RGW Rio Grande Zephyr; Amtrak: Southwest Limited/Chief, San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Cascades, California/San Francisco Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited (LA-ORL), Desert Wind, Pioneer, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited (NY Section), Cardinal, Hoosier State (Amtrak), Hoosier State (Iowa Pacific), Ann Rutledge, Adirondack, Maple Leaf, NE Regional, Capitol Limited, Crescent, Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited (Boston Section)
Via Rail Canada: Via Canadian (CP route), Via Super Continental, Via Atlantic Limited, Via Hudson Bay, Via Skeena, Via Canadian (CN route), Via "Corridor" (Toronto-Montreal);
Other: BC Rail Cariboo Dayliner, Alaska Railroad, Eurostar, Thalys, DB, Netherlands Rail, Austrian Railways, BR, Korail (conventional), Korail KTX