Los Angeles Union Station and environs

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Charles785, Jun 4, 2019.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Jun 4, 2019 #1

    Charles785

    C

    Charles785

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2017
    Messages:
    68
    I think there have been quite a few renovations of Los Angeles Union Station since I was through there in about 2010 and I definitely want to see the place coupled with a trip on the Southwest Chief.

    However, I'm not at all familiar with Los Angeles and I've been hearing quite a bit lately about how vagrants and homeless folks have been trashing a lot of areas in that city, including apparently using public streets and sidewalks as bathrooms, and causing communicable disease problems for the public as well as for law enforcement officers.

    Would anyone here know if this situation involves the area where Union Station is located, or if the depot itself has any kind of a problem with vagrants and others that would represent a threat to public health?
     
  2. Jun 4, 2019 #2

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Messages:
    426
    Location:
    West Palm Beach, Florida
    Plenty around last time I was in the area. They are in every city not just LA.
     
    Pere Flyer and zepherdude like this.
  3. Jun 4, 2019 #3

    pennyk

    pennyk

    pennyk

    Conductor Staff Member Administator Moderator Gathering Team Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2009
    Messages:
    9,253
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I was in LA Union Station for a few hours last December and went outside and walked around the area. I felt safe,even there appeared to be transients in the area.

    A few years ago, I was in LA for a few days and stayed at a hotel less than a mile away. I routinely walked between my hotel and Union Station, often past an area where homeless slept over night. No one bothered me and I felt safe. However, I only walked during daylight hours.
     
    dogbert617 likes this.
  4. Jun 4, 2019 #4

    PaTrainFan

    P

    PaTrainFan

    Service Attendant

    Joined:
    May 1, 2017
    Messages:
    132
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, Pa.
    I was in LA early last week and, yes, there are a sizable number of homeless around Union Station. However, I don't know that they bother very many people. Security is in strong evidence right in and around the station. I just mind my own business, don't make eye contact and go on my way. But this is a problem everywhere it seems.
     
  5. Jun 4, 2019 #5

    anumberone

    anumberone

    anumberone

    OBS Chief AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    754
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    What do you plan on doing, visiting the station or walking the streets. Homeless are here and there, shouldn't be an issue though getting from transportation to inside the station and you will not have a problem inside.
    Probably not the best place for walking around sightseeing, although Olvera St. Is close, safe and a nice place to visit.
     
    zepherdude likes this.
  6. Jun 4, 2019 #6

    seat38a

    s

    seat38a

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,914
    Location:
    Orange County California
    Unfortunately the city that I grew up in has become a dump. Couple people have caught typhoid fever and city hall just got caught hiding an independent report showing that the cause of the rats are from the homeless camps. I'd be very careful of sitting on anything like park benches or the grass. Between public defecation and used needles/syringes being tossed anywhere.

    I pretty much stopped taking public transit in LA and drive now.

    https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow...ep~filth-612pm~~1~yes-art~curated~curatedpage
     
  7. Jun 5, 2019 #7

    trainman74

    trainman74

    trainman74

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,542
    Location:
    Sherman Oaks, CA
    I live in the city of Los Angeles, and seat38a's warnings are overblown. Just for example, I'm planning to take the Red Line subway downtown Thursday evening to have dinner and attend an event, and have absolutely no qualms about doing so.
     
  8. Jun 5, 2019 #8

    zepherdude

    zepherdude

    zepherdude

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    564
    Location:
    Redding California
    Years ago I had a long train connection and waited outside in a courtyard. It was the most pleasant wait I ever had anywhere. People nodded, some spoke, but never did I feel unsafe.
     
    Pere Flyer and Dan O like this.
  9. Jun 5, 2019 #9

    seat38a

    s

    seat38a

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,914
    Location:
    Orange County California
    Thats your opinion and absolutely fine but theres also the former riders like myself and others who have abandoned riding Metro which tell a different story. Metro's ridership numbers have been dropping and safety is the often cited top reason for people abandoning Metro. Just to give it a shot again, I took the Redline 3 weeks ago. In the two segment ride from LAUS to Wilshire and Western what did I see? Three people talking and screaming to themselves in the first car we entered, the second car we entered smelled like urine, so we stood the whole way. After an incident a year ago to my buddy who was on the redline with me, standing is the norm for us even with a empty car. While waiting to get back from from Western/Western, rats scurry around on the platform, smell of urine everywhere and the platform was the cleanest part of the station. Oh and another crazy screaming racist rants in the car at another rider all the way to 7th and Metro. Even 3 years ago it wasn't this bad. But anyways to each his own.

    For 3 years I chose to ride public transit instead of upgrading my car which was getting up in age, but between the unreliability of Amtrak, Metrolink and the current status of Metro buses and trains, I bought a new car and now drive. I can take 405 and Metro Express Toll lanes and get to Downtown faster than public transit.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
    Bob Dylan likes this.
  10. Jun 6, 2019 #10

    caravanman

    caravanman

    caravanman

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,573
    Location:
    Nottingham, England.
    It seems to me that the problems raised above are a reflection on the wider society, rather than the transit operators responsibility? How do out of work homeless folk, or those with obvious mental health issues get assistance in America? Does each city have it's own responsibility for helping these people? I assume the "west coast" would be a magnet for homeless people, from a weather point of view?

    Ed.
     
  11. Jun 6, 2019 #11

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    18,280
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    Spot on Eddie!
     
  12. Jun 6, 2019 #12

    anumberone

    anumberone

    anumberone

    OBS Chief AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    754
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Yeah, we have some out of tune people and public transportation seems to attract them.
     
  13. Jun 6, 2019 #13

    Maglev

    Maglev

    Maglev

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    Messages:
    719
    Location:
    Orcas Island, Washington
    About twenty years ago, I walked to the Olvera Street neighborhood near Union Station, where there are shops and restaurants. I felt mostly safe. Is this still a good area to visit during layovers?
     
  14. Jun 6, 2019 #14

    flitcraft

    f

    flitcraft

    Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2018
    Messages:
    146
    The walk to Olvera Street is quite safe, in my opinion. We were just there in May and I was comfortable walking there, as a woman, by myself. I wouldn't go after dark, though. For one thing, the souvenir booths are closed, making the area lonelier, and for another, the charm of the area is in the nooks and crannies of the streets, which probably makes them less safe at night.

    My husband and I rode the Metro to get to Long Beach to see the Queen Mary and did not feel unsafe. Of course, we're from an urban West Coast city, so we have seen homeless folks before. If you were unused to that situation, I can see where it would be off-putting, for sure. Transit will attract those with no place to go--it's warm and dry and you can sit down. In Seattle, the streetcar through First Hill almost always has a couple of riders who are obviously homeless; the light rail to the airport, not so much.
     
    oregon pioneer and Bob Dylan like this.
  15. Jun 6, 2019 #15

    seat38a

    s

    seat38a

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,914
    Location:
    Orange County California
    OP asked about if it was safe, not a discussion on the cause and solution to it. But if you want a picture of what has been done, made front page of CNN today: https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/05/politics/los-angeles-homeless-count/index.html

    Here's a video on the same situation in Seattle. Pretty much spot on.

    I think the key paragraph in the article is this: While those figures were shocking to many Americans who view Los Angeles mainly as a city of glittering wealth, they came as less of a surprise to millions of Angelenos.

    If you want to do you own research, theres been plenty of articles on the issue which you can find easily via Google, but the OP asked if it was safe and as someone who's been there seen it for 3+ years, I've given my opinion and the OP can make his or her own judgment from it along with what others have said.
     
  16. Jun 6, 2019 #16

    seat38a

    s

    seat38a

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,914
    Location:
    Orange County California
    I think 20 years ago it was cleaner and safer. My high school Spanish 3 class did a field trip to Olvera Street and it was clean and teachers had no qualms about letting students go off to Philipes. As I understand it, many school districts stopped going to Olvera Street.
     
  17. Jun 7, 2019 #17

    JayPea

    JayPea

    JayPea

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Messages:
    3,801
    Location:
    Colfax, WA (CFX)
    I have been to LAUS and stayed at the nearby Metro Plaza Hotel with no problems. There are homeless around, but they haven't bothered me. The worst problem I have had was one time being woken up at 6:00 AM one time while staying at the Metro Plaza by a homeless man singing a drunken serenade. I wouldn't minded so much if his voice hadn't resembled a combination of a vomiting swan, a cat being declawed with pliers, and a buzzsaw hitting a rusty nail. :D
     
    v v likes this.
  18. Jun 7, 2019 #18

    caravanman

    caravanman

    caravanman

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,573
    Location:
    Nottingham, England.
    I guess from reading the CNN item that it is pretty safe for tourists, no mention of folk being attacked?
    The quote "We can't arrest our way out of this situation" stuck in my mind.
    Anyone thought of building a wall yet? :p

    Ed
     
    cirdan and F900ElCapitan like this.
  19. Jun 7, 2019 #19

    anumberone

    anumberone

    anumberone

    OBS Chief AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    754
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    This topic started about LAUS. and interference with homeless. It has spread to the overall homeless situation in Low Angele which is nothing to thumb your nose at. I sometimes ride the Metro and making the connection from the Blue to the Green line is a little sketchy while waiting on the platform.
     
  20. Jun 7, 2019 #20

    v v

    v

    v v

    Conductor AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2012
    Messages:
    1,100
    Location:
    UK / France
    Charles785

    We were at the station twice recently, first in December 2018 and again January this year, we always travel by public transport where ever we are. The US west coast does have a major homeless problem in the respect the climate attracts these people, but have seen lesser number of homelessness in Kansas City, Chicago, Denver and NYC, as Ed suggests it's a major phenomena.

    Back to LAUS. We have travelled through and explored around the station many times over the last 5 years, we love the station as it's pretty unique and so well designed and organised, it looks beautiful too. Entering the station fresh each time brings a smile to our faces, never, not once have we been intimidated.

    The area around the station has/had large numbers of homeless people, in particular we found around City Hall. Have never been there at night but have during early evening, again never felt any intimidation. It may depend on your own tolerance levels, seeing people in a poor condition does worry some people. Seeing how some others choose to live can be upsetting. But being made afraid of homeless people also creates fear even when there is no reason to fear. Fear feeds on fear even if it's only imaginary.

    We've worked a little with homeless people in London, most are in their situation due to reasons not of their own making. The vast majority are not aggressive, although that may depend on whether drugs or alcohol are involved. The most striking thing I learnt from the homeless was it's hard for them when the public walk past them as though they are invisible, they call themselves the 'invisible ones'. Most don't want anything from you, but many do want to be recognised as a fellow human being for whom something has gone dramatically wrong in their lives. If a homeless ever looks us in the eye we smile and just say 'hello' and keep walking, it always appears to be enough, so far in our experience anyway.

    Just go and enjoy the station, stay relaxed and treat these people with a little courtesy if any look you in the eye, you'll have a great time and don't forget the waiting area.

    All a personal view
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
    Pere Flyer, Ryan, Bob Dylan and 4 others like this.
  21. Jun 8, 2019 #21

    IndyLions

    IndyLions

    IndyLions

    Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2016
    Messages:
    167
    Location:
    Brownsburg IN
    I had a great trip staying in Downtown LA a few months ago. Yes - there were some homeless folks for sure around Union Station but nothing that impacted my ability to enjoy the area for the first time.

    Not trying to get too political here - but my opinion is that people need to take care of people without the government in the middle. If more of us did our part financially and with our own personal effort the world would be a much better place as far as hunger, mental illness and the like are concerned.

    Whether or not you are a Christian / person of faith the tenet of giving back 10% of your income (as well as your time) to worthy charitable organizations is a sound one. It would solve a lot more problems than handing over a similar amount to the government to do the same job.

    The key there is “worthy”. You have to do your homework to make sure your contributions are being efficiently / effectively / humanely used.

    End of soap box.
     
    cirdan, Rail Freak, SarahZ and 4 others like this.
  22. Jun 8, 2019 #22

    mycalpal

    m

    mycalpal

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2015
    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    My impression having been an arriving, departing and transferring passenger on a number of Amtrak trips is that the condition of the station, it's amenities and safety have all improved. Compared to an arrival I had off the Sunset Limited, tranferring to the Coast Starlight in 2013 and more recent trips the station is making an effort to manage the amount of people who are transient in the station. In 2013 we arrived early off the Sunset Limited, they did have a waiting area in front of the Trax Lounge for sleeping car passengers, but it did not open for several hours after our arrival. With the opening of the Metropolitan Lounge, Sleeping car and Business Class passengers have a nice space. The lounge aside, the work done on the station has really made a diffence. I was at the station last year outbound on the Sunset Limited and walked over to Denny's to get a bite to eat. No dinner on the late Sunset Limited departure. I felt safe enough walking the short distance from the station. Always be aware of your surroundings and have a good time on Amtrak!
     
  23. Jun 8, 2019 #23

    Rasputin

    R

    Rasputin

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2019
    Messages:
    419
    There is a large Cinco de Mayo celebration on Olvera Street near the station on Cinco de Mayo. We visited it when we were there between trains last year and had a great time.
     
  24. Jun 8, 2019 #24

    trainman74

    trainman74

    trainman74

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,542
    Location:
    Sherman Oaks, CA
    In the interest of full disclosure:

    On my Red Line trip downtown on Thursday, two different salespeople entered my car -- one had licorice-flavored (yuck) hard candies, and a couple stops later, one had single-serve bags of chips and a cooler of cold drinks. I didn't see the candy salesman make any sales, but the other guy sold a couple bags of chips and a couple cans of Coke. There was no hard sell, and both salesmen were out of the car within a couple of stops. (Which makes sense, since they're doing something illegal.)

    The rest of my evening was a walk from the Pershing Square station to Cole's (the non-Philippe's French dip restaurant), then to a nearby theater for a live taping of a podcast, then back to Pershing Square, and then another Red Line train back to the Valley. All of this was fairly uneventful. I don't remember even seeing anyone who was obviously homeless.
     
  25. Jun 10, 2019 #25

    junebug

    junebug

    junebug

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2011
    Messages:
    291
    After the Southwest Chief dropped me off, waiting for the Coast Starlight in the morning, I've had no trouble walking alone to the kitchy booths with souvenirs and Phillipe's (thanks, Trainman, I had forgotten the name of that yummy place.) They have decent breakfast, and the sandwiches to go are great.
     

Share This Page

arrow_white