The train station doesn’t have to be simply the beginning or end of your travel —it is also part of the experience. Make your station a destination to build tourism and interest among your local community.
While a train station’s primary purpose is to provide a point from which to depart or arrive, communities that fail to see their station’s full potential are missing a tremendous opportunity. Transforming a station into a place worth visiting, with shops, restaurants, museums and the like, enables towns to take advantage of the variety of people passing through every day by giving them something more – a reason to return. Additionally, if a station is more than a travel hub, locals will see the station as a place to relax and be entertained as well.
When its doors opened in 1914, Kansas City Union Station was the third-largest train station in the country and was the gateway to the American West, boasting an estimated one million passengers served at its peak. But sadly, by the mid-twentieth century, those numbers were a memory, leaving the station abandoned. In 1996, residents realized the value their once-great station could again bring to their city and embarked on a $250 million restoration project through the help of public and private investments. In a significant move, residents of five adjacent counties in Missouri and Kansas approved a 1/8 cent sales tax to help fund the station rehabilitation.
Today, visitors can catch a movie, show, exhibit or meal in addition to catching a train. The station is home to a large interactive science museum, rail exhibit, Irish museum and cultural center, five-story Regnier Extreme Screen Theater and Gottlieb Planetarium, the Block Theater, restaurants, shops, event spaces and of course a hub for intermodal transportation. Thanks to careful restoration and strategic planning, this jewel of the Midwest was not lost and continues to attract tourists and travelers from all over the world.