Here we are. We’re at the belly of the beast. We’ve done State Street, now to do THE station for New Haven. And now, an indepth look at Union Station. So, how unifying is Union Station?
Alrighty, so starting from the street, we have a view of the rail yard where pretty much everything conceivable (for the NEC, anyways) was laying over. Hartford Line trains with MBB coaches, GP40s, and P40DCs? Yep. Amfleets with a cab car, and an Amtrak P42DC? Why not! A Regional with an ACS64 boarding? Sure! And a bunch of M8s for the Shore Line East and the New Haven Line? Absolutely! And don’t forget the Acela! There’s also a large parking garage next to the station.
Now, the station itself. Out front, you have a busway where the CTtransit buses board. I think this is also where Greyhound and other intercity buses board as well, but I’m not fully sure. Nevertheless, it’s quite nice, with two entrances (and another one on either side of the station!). So, with that out of the way, let’s go right into this beast of a station.
Alrighty. So, upon entering, the departure board can be found, with a larger version blown up in the mezzanine. Speaking of which, the mezzanine is HUGE! You’ve got restrooms off to one side, stairs down to the platforms as well, and also an exit to the parking garage. The other side has brochures and access to (presumably employee?) parking. Further more, in the mezzanine itself, you have Amtrak and Metro-North ticket booths and a nonfunctional Quik-Trak machine. Yikes. There’s also a baggage check, a small convenience store, a Dunkin’, and Subway. Nice.
Now, the lower area. The platforms are all connected underground by a cool-looking tube, with stairs and elevators going up, along with signs indicating what’s boarding at what platform. There’s also an Amtrak office down here, Sbarro, and another Dunkin? Huh, weird that there’s two Dunkins here. At least there’s no diesel fumes like in Back Bay. I’ll also add that the elevator between the waiting area and lower mezzanine is a bit hidden, being behind a corner and a set of stairs.
And now, the platforms. There’s some seating, but you generally aren’t expected to wait here. There’s also, for whatever reason, vending machines on the platforms. Yeah, don’t ask. I’m not sure on the rationale either. But hey, unless someone stops you from being up here, it doesn’t seem like that awful a railfanning spot – aside from the lack of sheltering. Each platform also has electronic signage indicating departures.
And with that, I’m pretty sure that’s everything that this beast has to offer.
The good: It’s pretty well utilized! I mean, second to South Station, I’m pretty sure it’s the second most-used Amtrak station in New England. The fact Metro-North and CTrail exists here also helps. Plus, you also have intercity buses that stop here, and generally it’s easy to get around. There’s also plenty of parking, if you’re the kind to bring your vehicle here.
The bad: Unfortunately though, it’s relatively isolated from downtown New Haven. That and the relative seclusion for the elevator to the tunnel from the lobby, are my main gripes.
Nearby points of interest: Pretty much all of New Haven, and places accessible by CTtransit! Also IKEA.
Transit connections: Greyhound, Flixbus, Peter Pan, Acela, Northeast Regional, Vermonter, Valley Flyer, Hartford Line, Shore Line East, New Haven Line, CTtransit (265, 271, 272, 278, 950, Union Sta. shuttle)
Overall, it’s a great station. The fact that one of the elevators is relatively isolated is annoying, but it’s not as bad as the bad geography. Now, maybe historically, the area was much better, but nowadays it just feels very isolated from the rest of New Haven.
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