Finding the subway

A reader in Upland (hi, Chris!) who has taken Metrolink to Union Station more than once told me she had no idea how to get to the subway and may not have been totally aware it exists. I described its location to her, but on a recent visit, I thought to take photos. Above is a view in the station, Starbucks to the left, Wetzel’s Pretzels to the right. The subway entrance is between them. A closer view is below.

[Update: As reader John Clifford cheekily points out, out of the frame of the photo just to the left of the Starbucks is, what else, a Subway sandwich shop. Subway to the left, subway down below. What a country.]

Despite the sign, both the Red and Purple lines are down there. You take an escalator, stairs or elevator down and there are ticket machines and turnstiles. With your Metrolink ticket, just tap it on the turnstile button; no other ticket is necessary. From there, descend to the subway platform and use the maps to figure out where you should go, paying attention to the train markings for final destinations.

Chris said she thought I’d once promised in print to write all the particulars of taking the train and subway. I don’t recall that, although I did once write a How to Ride post about Metrolink. Walking you through every step in taking a subway or a bus sounds kind of tedious, and probably I’d leave out some crucial step, as in a recipe where an ingredient is missing. But at least you know where the subway entrance is now and you have some guidance once you’re there.

Update: As several of you noted, when you get off Metrolink and descend the stairs into the middle of the low-slung tunnel, running perpendicular, you can walk either left or right. Left takes you first past the Gold Line entrance and then into Union Station and the subway entrance pictured above. Right takes you to the bus center and to the OTHER entrance to the subways. See below. This one is labeled to reflect both the Red and Purple lines, but both are accessible from either entrance.

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  • Carl Knecht

    If you go the opposite direction in tunnel that the Metrolink trains dump you out in, there is also an entrance to the subway there.

    • davidallen909

      That’s true, I should have said that.

    • Richard

      Yup, there are 2 entrances to the subway, one at either end of the main tunnel underneath the train platforms.

    • com63

      The double entrances is the main confusion. When you exit the gold line or other platforms, there are signs that point one direction to the red/purple line. When you start walking in that direction, you will see signs pointing the opposite direction for the same line. You have to confidently ignore those signs or you end up in an endless loop. Both signs are technically correct, but the wayfinding is needlessly confusing. I can see how it trips up casual riders.

      I find this type of thing to be common with many train stations in the US. The wayfinding is geared toward the commuter who uses the station every day rather than the casual traveler who may use it occasionally. Penn Station and the Port Authority bus terminal in NY are prime examples. Airports are much better in this respect. The wayfinding has to be good at airports because many travelers are infrequent visitors there.

  • Richard_Pietrasz

    The first time I needed to do this I ended up asking an employee, who was police or security. Guys do not normally do this but it did work.

    • davidallen909

      And I find that transit riders are helpful in general as far as directing people who have questions or merely seem confused.

      • John Clifford

        My experience as well.

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  • AllanA

    I’m with Chris’s frustration! Would be so easy to have colored lines on the floor of the station. You could just direct people to follow the Red/Purple line or the Gold line. No need to wonder if they can read English or anything. Yes there would be maintenance involved but really, how hard could that be?

    Certainly some cities in the world are doing this, right?

    • John Clifford

      I look forward to singing “follow the yellow paint line”. Now if I only had a brain.

  • John Clifford

    When I saw this tweeted with the title, my reaction was, “wait, let me guess, downstairs?.” A little sarcasm, then I noted that the photo (at top) and also noted that it could be the sandwich shop to the left of Starbucks. My gosh how funny I am.

    • davidallen909

      Indeed you are. And, more seriously, while it did amaze me that people would not know there’s a subway or how to get there — and Chris’ comment isn’t the first I’ve heard — it does seem based on comments on this post from riders that the signage could be improved.

      • John Clifford

        Yes, and to be serious it’s not a good situation. I like the idea of lines on the floor except I recall reading that the were moving away from color coded lines and moving to letters E line for expo as an example. London uses the color system. NYC uses letters. Just go make sure it’s not too confusing.