Union Station: D.C.’s Hub of Humanity

By Johnelle Revell and Selina Dudley

WASHINGTON – The sounds of suitcases rolling along the platform and the chatter of people talking make up some of the sounds that fill Union Station.

Passengers move swiftly so that they won’t miss their trains, while tourists take in the Roman-style architecture.

Union Station is the busiest transportation hub in the city. More than 90,000 people travel through it daily, and it hosts more than 100 small boutiques.

People of many origins make up the visitors – either cruising the station or dining in its 35 eateries that serve a range of meals that range from American to international cuisine.

Shuai Yuan, a tourist from China, is one of the many sightseers passing through the station on this day in early April. Yuan is impressed by the station’s artistry and esthetics.

“I find Washington is very nice and very safe transportation, very convenient,” Yuan said. “The museums are so great and the station is beautiful.”

The hustle and bustle of the station can be somewhat overwhelming.

Amtrak, Metro, Marc and the Virginia Railway Express are the four rail transportation systems offered at the station. And with them comes the heavy traffic of travelers passing through every day.

By 11 a.m. one Saturday, lines for the Amtrak train are stretched around the corner of the gates. Those waiting to board the train were shifting back and forth, obviously becoming impatient as they stood waiting for the delayed northbound train.

“Long lines is not unusual, but every train does not leave late everyday,” Magnus St. Ange said.

St. Ange, an Amtrak gate usher for six years, explained that using the transportation at Union Station is a viable option.

“It is less traffic and less stressful than a plane. It is on the ground and the trains are usually on time,” St. Ange said.

Commuters come from different states for business and use the station to travel back home.

Megan Wayof Boston came to Washington for a conference and patiently waited in an extended line. While anticipating her train ride, she took in the scenery of the station.

“I like Union Station. It is very big and comfortable,” Way said.

But some travelers were not as tolerant about waiting.

Take Melvin Montford of North Carolina. He stood with a worried expression plastered on his face and had a grumpy attitude to accompany it.

“I have been waiting in line, going to the wrong station, and then boarded the right train to Baltimore,” Montford said.

His wait time has been 10 or 15 minutes and he said he is anxious to leave the station.

While waiting in long lines can be irritating, the artistry and eateries make Union Station memorable for the thousands of friendly strangers who crowd its corridors daily.


Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization of Black journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.