Merced has been a station stop on the San Joaquin ever since the line was reinstated in 1974 by Amtrak, subsidized by the state of California. It is the thruway connection point to reach Yosemite National Park these buses can be ticketed by Amtrak (and many of the stops have Amtrak California bus signs) but are operated locally by YARTS, Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System, used by many regular commuters. This means that anyone can by a bus ticket. In Merced as well, the main Greyhound Station is along the SP Tracks, where the visitors center is at the Merced Transportation Center one mile from the BNSF Amtrak Station. Trains have always stopped in the current location but the dilapidated depot was completely rebuilt in 2000 (based on its original design) as a plaque in the station lists August 2000 as a rededication. The stop is the one service stop of sorts on the San Joaquin and is where the engineers switch (to get under Amtrak's agreement that two are required for runs over six hours) but the conductors don't, they do the entire Oakland/Sacramento to Bakersfied runs one a day, spending the night in between.
The station's long low-level platform, for level boarding with an entire four or five car Amtrak California San Joaquin train (plus the locomotive), begins at the western side (railway north) grade Crossing with K Street. This platform has a yellow tactile warning strip and a few older generation pointless arrow blue Merced, CA signs held up by steel enclosures along the platform. There is also a modern information panel and a line of tall square lampposts. Starting from the grade crossing between K Street and 24 Street is first a bus loop along the platform (for YARTS buses). Behind this is the 34 space long-term parking lot that is fenced off so it can be closed when the station is closed. Next is the actual depot which is along the station platform, behind it are 12 short-term parking spaces before 24 Street. Just north of the depot is a small, recently installed, brown wheelchair lift enclosure. There are two signs, one at the main entrance to the station and one on the depot itself that say Merced and have the modern Amtrak logo, mention the station is a crew base and also has the BSNF logo. There is also a wooden sign for Merced on the southern side of the depot with the old Santa Fe logo.
The depot itself is a one story building with eaves and different sections of rooflines and little porches outside that provide cover for passengers waiting outside (the platform has no canopies as its own). Inside is a farely small waiting area with black individual chairs. At the eastern end is the ticket office with two windows and one baggage check scale in between, an electronic baggage cart drives out to meet each train. At the opposite end of the ticket office (towards the bus stop for Yosemite buses, as a sign says) is a corridor where the restrooms and offices for the crew base at the station are. For passengers on a layover the only amenities are vending machines and the stop is located in a residential area.
Photos 1-33 taken on 14 February, 2012, 34-46 on 16 February, 2012, 47 on 27 February, 2012, 48-52 on 19 June, 2013
Last Updated: 21 March, 2011