Taking The Train To San Diego A Challenging Travel Adventure
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Travel Blogger
Taking the train from Union Station in Los Angeles to San Diego on Amtrak is a very pleasant experience.
Getting to Union Station in Los Angeles is not. That’s due to being in public transportation-challenged L.A., and especially starting from the South Bay Beach Cities. Here’s my story, how to do it and the challenges of it.
The Green Line To The Blue Line To The Red Line; Wait, There’s A Bus!
My starting point was Hermosa Beach and I had plotted out a route of the Beach Cities Transit – a bus that costs a buck that so few people take I call it the “dollar taxi”– to the Green Line Metro station at Rosecrans.
From there, I would take the train to the Blue Line (not exactly a highlight of the trip as the station change is in Watts and the train plods through some of LA’s worst neighborhoods) and then transfer yet again to the Gold Line.
I anticipated this would take about two hours. Note that the train from Union Station to San Diego takes 2 1/2 hours.
As I was waiting for the Dollar Taxi, I attempted to find out if there was another, easier and quicker route to Union Station. Trying to get information out of LA Metro is like trying to move on the 405 freeway at rush hour – it’s not happening anytime soon. You call a number and get an automated system that apparently does not recognize Union Station as a destination.
I did reach a lady at Torrance Transit of all places, who informed me of a Silver Line bus that, in her words “runs every 15 minutes and gets to Union Station in 15 minutes.”
I would get off the Green LIne at the Harbor Freeway exit and bypass all those train changes. Sounded good to me.
Well let me tell you, the Silver Line takes a lot longer than 15 minutes to get to Union Station. By the time the bus arrived, I only had 45 minutes to catch the train and the bus stopped at every possible intersection in downtown Los Angeles.
At each one, a little “ding” sounded and a voice came over the speaker announcing “Stop Requested.” “Stop Requested.”
Thirty minutes to go and were were only at Adams Street. Twenty minutes to go and we were stopped at Staples Center. We were inching through downtown and every 15 seconds I heard those same words: “Stop Requested.” Stop Requested.”
Finally, with less than 10 minutes remaining, I called Amtrak to plead when them to hold the train. That, of course, was far more wishful thinking than reality.
I had no idea where we were and could not see the distinctive Art Deco building that is Union Station when the bus pulled onto a stop on freeway on ramp. A freeway ramp! I let out a very audible”WHAT!?” in disbelief.
Fortunately, a kind gentlemen who obviously overhead my conversation with Amtrak turned to me and calmly said, “this is the Union Station stop.”
What, where? I could see no building. I had naturally assumed we would pull right up to the door. But this is LA public transportation and nothing here is that easy.
I leaped off the bus and discovered I was three blocks from the station. I sprinted, dodged construction at the entrance, made a passing inquiry of an employee who said “keeping running and buy your ticket on the train,” and noticed to my chagrin (but hardly my surprise) that the platform was at the far end of a very long corridor.
I arrived at the platform to see the train still there, bounded up a set of steps and threw myself aboard like a sack of mail.
With my heart beating like I had just escaped from a disaster scene in a Hollywood movie, I found a seat. Mere seconds later the train pulled out of the station. I had made it by two minutes.
Now here’s the really ironic thing – the name of the car I boarded was called Hermosa Beach.
Still dropping sweat from my LA public transpiration experience, I called Amtrak and bought the $38 ticket, then settled into the ride. In less than an hour, we were rolling along the edge of the Pacific.
Yet I could not help but be thinking, if only LA Metro could make it a make it easier to get here.
Hermosa Beach To Union Station Directions
• Take the Beach Cities Transit Bus Line 109 to the Green Line Metro (get off by Bay Club health club)
• Take the Green Line to the Blue Line (forget the Silver Line bus)
• Find the Gold Line (it’s down a couple of levels) and take it to Union Station