How to Box Your Bike at LA Union Station in 18 EASY Steps
(From the comments, this post needs some clarification. You only have to box the bike from Union Station if you are taking an interstate train. For example, The Coast Starlight. The Surfliner from San Diego to SLO has roll-on services. Also, if you have a folding bike you can take it on as carry-on.)
I admit, the title is a bit of hyperbole, but not by much. We’ve taken our bikes on Amtrak from LA Union Station several times for bike tours and take it for granted that we know how to navigate the Byzantine maze to do it. So as a public service, I took some photos to make it a little easier for other would be bike-train travelers.
After a brisk ride from Sunland to North Hollywood, we took the Redline to Union Station. From the platform we made our way to the elevator (which fits two loaded bikes pretty well).
You enter the grand and historic LA Union Station, where you can now get some coffee from Starbucks, a sandwich at Subway and other sundries at Famima! A Market.
After getting your tickets either from the blue ticket machines or an Amtrak employee behind the glass, it’s time to find the hidden passage way to the luggage area to box your bike.
If you are facing the Amtrak counter, go stage right. You’ll see the Hertz and Budget car rental stations. Walk towards them….
Then make an immediate left. You’ll see a little yellow hallway and there will be elevators to your left which again accommodate two loaded bikes. Go to the second floor.
When the elevators open you’ll be in a funny white room. Take the unmarked door to the left with the glass window. It should be open.
Now, proceed down the narrow hallway until you see a door with the magic brass button.
Push it. A voice should tell you that the door is open. Enter.
You will enter an open warehouse type space. Walk towards the office type room by the bay doors. An Amtrak employee will give you a box to pack your bike. It will cost you $25 for the box and handling, which is a good deal when compared to flying with a full-sized bike. (To disassemble your bike for the bike box, check out our boxing video.)
If you have cash on hand, then you’re done. If you have to pay for the bike box via credit card, the fun is not over yet. The baggage area doesn’t have a credit card machine, so you have to go back down to the Amtrak ticket counter and pay there….THEN, you have to back to the luggage area and show proof of payment.
Congratulations, you’ve now successfully discovered the secrets of boxing your bike at LA Union Station. Now take all your bags back down through the maze and wait for your train. To be fair, the woman in the baggage area was very helpful and even taped our bike boxes together. This is a big improvement over several years ago when some people just stared at us with wonder. She told us that a lot of people were taking their bikes on Amtrak these days. It seems like others have caught on to the joys of multi-modal travel, now if only bike facilities on trains would catch up!
(Keep our adventures going and the site growing! If you’ve enjoyed our stories, videos and photos over the years, consider buying our ebook Panniers and Peanut Butter, or our new Brompton Touring Book, or some of the fun bike-themed t-shirts we’re designing, or buying your gear through our Amazon store.)