Here in Washington, Union Station is the gateway to the city. From this multimodal hub, locals and visitors alike are connected to our nation's capital and to the rest of the country by Metro, Amtrak, and local and interstate buses. In fact, it was just a year ago that DOT helped improve safety and convenience for intercity bus passengers by consolidating pickups at Union Station.
But the station, which was designed in 1907, has struggled to keep pace with modern demands. With over 100,000 daily rail and transit trips, the station is already operating beyond its current capacity. And with projections showing that Amtrak and commuter rail ridership at the station could more than double in the next fifteen years alone, it's only set to get busier.
That's why Deputy Secretary John Porcari joined Amtrak representatives and D.C. officials last week for the unveiling of a master plan that will transform Union Station into a 21st century transportation hub worthy of a 21st century city.
The Washington Union Station Master Plan was created by bringing together diverse stakeholders at the local and national level who were tasked with envisioning a facility that could accommodate three times as many passengers and twice as many trains while still preserving the station's historic architectural design. The resulting plan lays the groundwork for a reimagined station that will increase capacity to accommodate future rail expansion, deliver the highest quality passenger experience, and help support local and regional economic growth.
The heart of the plan is the creation of a new train shed that will welcome passengers to the nation’s capital, bring natural light to station spaces, and better organize connections to Amtrak, commuter rail, transit and other transportation services. New passenger concourses and a series of new street entrances will be seamlessly integrated with the existing station, allowing passengers and visitors to easily access the entire station complex and adjoining neighborhoods while enjoying improved amenities and expanded retail opportunities.
And the expanded rail and passenger capacity in this station is essential to bringing high-speed rail to Washington--and to accommodating future growth on the Northeast Corridor.
Now, the revamped Union Station won't be built overnight. The plan envisions three phases that can be constructed incrementally over a 15-year period. But with this framework now in place and so many stakeholders on board, work can truly begin to secure funding and make this vision a reality.
As Deputy Secretary Porcari said at the event, great cities need great train stations. And with its new master plan, Union Station is poised to become a world-class transportation hub that will serve passengers for generations to come.