"Portland Union Station" Top 5 Page for this destination Greyhound or Amtrak Tip by glabah

Greyhound or Amtrak, Portland: 15 reviews and 20 photos

  Portland Union Station from MAX station area
by glabah
 
  • Portland Union Station from MAX station area - Portland
      Portland Union Station from MAX station area
    by glabah
  • Union Station main waiting room - Portland
      Union Station main waiting room
    by glabah
  • Side Hallway Room: note news stand, paint photos - Portland
      Side Hallway Room: note news stand, paint photos
    by glabah
  • Platform Level, Portland Union Station is Very Low - Portland
      Platform Level, Portland Union Station is Very Low
    by glabah
  • To and From Trains in Portland Union Station - Portland
      To and From Trains in Portland Union Station
    by glabah
 

Finished in 1896, and significantly remodeled between 1927 and 1930, Portland's Union Station has seen train traffic to and from the City of Roses peak at over 200 trains a day, drop down to a mediocre three per day in the 1980s, and slowly revive through the 1990s and 2000s, thanks to the state of Washington effort to develop the Cascades service. The station was purchased by the Portland Development Commission in the mid 1980s in order to turn the land around the station into a housing development.

Getting Here: Auto Access:

There are two parking spots in front of the station which are reserved for active leaving-off or picking up of passengers.

The majority of the parking spaces that are at the surface lot in front of the station are reserved for Wilf's Restaurant.

There is a parking garage approximately two blocks north of the station main entrance. There is also an area of the street in front of the station and under the Broadway Bridge that has metered parking places.

From the Broadway Bridge cross the Broadway Bridge, turn right onto Lovejoy on the west end of the bridge, turn right onto 9th, and turn right again onto Marshall Street. At the end of the block turn right, and the entrance to the parking garage is an immediate right turn after the intersection.

From the station, go north past the station entrance approximately two blocks and under the west end of the Broadway bridge. The parking structure is then on the left side.

To get to the parking structure from NW Natio Parkway (formerly Front Street) turn left onto NW 9th Avenue from Natio Parkway after going under the Broadway Bridge (a large red bridge). Turn left again at Northrup Street and continue as the road curves. The entrance to the parking structure is on the right side just after the intersection with Marshall.

From Interstate 5 from the north or Interstate 84 you want the Broadway Bridge exit, cross the river at the Broadway Bridge, and follow the Broadway Bridge instructions, above. From Interstate 5 coming north take the Natio Parkway / Front Street exit and use the Natio Parkway instructions.

In the primary photo for this tip, you will see that I am photographing the station from the area of the MAX station. The front door to the station is near the base of the clock tower, but is located at the spot where the half-rotunda meets the main body of the train station. The parking structure is located to the left and behind the station, and is not visible due to the Broadway Bridge.

Getting Here: Public Transit:

There are several public transit routes that serve the station, and the best one depends on where you need to go or are coming from.

From downtown Portland MAX green and yellow lines serve the station. The yellow line crosses the river and goes north on Interstate Avenue. The green line crosses the river and goes past the various hotels near the Lloyd Center and Convention Center. Stations for these two rail transit lines are two blocks south of the station main entrance, on the south side of the Greyhound Bus Station that is south of the station. To get to trains going south into downtown, from the station entrance walk one block south to Irving Street, then one block east to 5th Avenue, then one block south to Hoyt Street. The next block of the sidewalk serves as the passenger platform for trains going south into downtown. For trains going north and east, you just need to walk two blocks south from the station to 6th and Irving, and from there south serves as a platform for trains going north and east.

Please be aware that there are a large number of homeless people that wander through this area. They will ask you for money, but are otherwise harmless.

At one time bus route 77 had a stop directly in front of the station, and was the closest transit stop. However, in 2012 it moved four blocks away, to the south and east.

Bus route 33 to Oregon City also serves this area. The stop for this route is one block south of the station entrance and then one block east at 6th and Irving.

In the primary photo for this tip, you will see that I am photographing the station from the area of the MAX station. The MAX station is almost directly behind me as I took the photo, and you can see the tracks in the foreground. This is 6th Avenue. If you are going east, you need to be at the station I am standing at to take the photo. If you are going south or west, you will need to go to the other MAX station, which is on 5th Avenue, but at the equivalent spot on the next block to the right in the photograph. The front door to the station is near the base of the clock tower, but is located at the spot where the half-rotunda meets the main body of the train station.

Station Hours, Facilities, etc:

Check the "Stations" section of the Amtrak web site (be sure to select Portland, Oregon and not Portland, Maine) for the most recent information on station hours. As of this writing the hours are 5:30 am to 9:25 pm* on weekdays, and 7:30 am to 9:25 pm * on weekends.
* In reality, the station closes at 9:25pm or later if the last train out of Seattle arrives late.

The checked baggage facilities are located on the north side of the station waiting room. Follow the signs. One set of doors is for entering, and the other set of doors is for exiting.

The interior of the station features three waiting rooms: the main waiting room, a side waiting room that also serves as the hallway between the main waiting room and the restroom facilities, and the "Metropolitan Lounge" which is reserved for sleeping car patrons only.

There is a news stand / bookstore / snack shop where the main waiting room joins the smaller side hallway. They have all manner of trinkets and a number of other things, but not a huge selection of any of it. If you want a more substantial meal and it is afternoon or evening, Wilf's is the restaurant at the south side of the station. Direct access between the two has been eliminated.

In the 2nd photograph, you can see what the inside of the main waiting room looks like. The 2nd photograph is looking at the ticket sales counter. To the right of this photograph is the "QuickTrak" machines for scanning your bar code and printing the ticket. To the left of the photograph is the news stand and snack shop, and behind that is the main entrance to the station.

Artwork:

The station was most recently remodeled in 1930, with its extensive interior modifications overseen by famous Portland architect Pietro Belluschi. As should be expected with his works, vast amounts of Italian marble was used throughout the interior, though a restroom modernization project several years ago replaced all of the decorative marble and other such pieces in the restrooms. Decorations on the side walls of the side hallway leading to the restrooms includes various famous Oregon attractions. These are photographs that have been painted onto the walls. Most of these have worn and faded over their many years of display, but they are still great photos of Oregon.

Notes:

Boarding and detraining at the station is fairly slow as the platforms have had little modification to them since they were paved and had roofs added, which was sometime in the early 1900s. This means that, due to their low level, a step box must be placed at the entrance to every single door on the train. Many other features of modern station platforms have not yet been added either.

So, be very careful as you board and detrain here, and this is also why they insist on making sure that an Amtrak employee opens the door at this station: a step box must be in place before the door is opened.

The Photos:

Photo 1: A look at Union Station from the nearest MAX station, which is at the south side of the Greyhound Bus station (just south of Union Station). Some bus services stop at both Union Station and the Greyhound station.

Photo 2: The waiting room, looking west. The ticket desks are along the far wall. The entrance to the street is to the right and towards the ticket counters. The quicktrak machines are to the right, and beside them the entrance to the large hallway that leads to Amtrak connecting buses and the checked baggage area. Note that the benches are fairly hard wood, and will get uncomfortable after a while. However, the fact is that most of the time, there is no need to show up hugely early for trains here. If I were to turn 90 degrees to the left from where I took this photo, you would see directly into the side hallway.

Photo 3: This is the second waiting room / side hallway. 90 degree to the left are the restrooms. The snack shop / book store / news stand / memorabilia shop is right there in the middle of the back of the photo. Also notice the various photographs of Oregon that have been painted on the wall of this room. In the distance is the main waiting room.

Photo 4: Typical platform and boarding at Portland Union Station. Boarding is slow and somewhat hazardous compared to most other stations on the Cascades Corridor due to the station platform being much lower than is considered standard, or even desirable, today. Each door must have a step box (yellow box) placed at it to provide an extra step, and this adds to the detraining and boarding time required.

Photo 5: Looking towards the platforms in the main waiting room. The door on the right is where boarding for coach passengers happens. The middle door is boarding for 1st class / business class passengers. The door on the left is where arriving passengers enter the station. Due to crowding and station logistics, seat assignments happen on many Amtrak trains to and from Portland. Assignments happen at the desk between the middle doors and right side doors. To the far right, beyond the photograph, is the Metropolitan Lounge, which is open to sleeping car passengers and business class passengers.

Mode: TO
Type: Train
Website: http://www.amtrak.com/

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 8, 2013
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