L.A. Metro Board of Directors approves creation of new microtransit pilot project

Feb. 28, 2020
The board approved a $29-million contract for RideCo Inc., to partner with L.A. Metro to operate an on-demand shared ride service.

A three-year microtransit pilot project has been approved by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors that will bring a new L.A. Metro-operated, on-demand shared ride service for short trips to six designated service zones in L.A. County.

The board approved a $29-million contract to private ridesharing company RideCo Inc., to partner with L.A. Metro to operate the service, subject to resolution of any protests. The board also approved nearly $8 million in funding for operational expenses and to hire 80 new L.A. Metro employees to operate the vehicles.

“Metro is keenly aware of the changing mobility needs of people trying to get around an increasingly congested Los Angeles County,” said Inglewood Mayor and Metro Board Chair James Butts. “This pilot project will allow us to test out a new mobility option that can meet those changing needs while still fulfilling our responsibility to reduce congestion and get cars off the road by using shared rides.”

More than 50 percent of all trips in Los Angeles are short, solo trips using a private car service or driving alone. This pilot is designed to capture more of those trips by offering a flexible, on-demand service operated by L.A. Metro employees in vehicles that hold up to 10 passengers. The pilot project will also expand ride-hailing technology to all public transit customers, including historically underserved communities and populations, along with areas of Los Angeles County where fixed-route bus or rail service is less frequent or unavailable.

The technology behind microtransit will allow riders to plan entire trips — both microtransit and their bus and train ride – using real-time booking through a single mobile app, internet browser or L.A. Metro’s call center. Riders will be able to pay for the service by using their TAP card and TAP account, or with a debit, credit or prepaid credit card.

Fare pricing has not yet been determined for microtransit.

L.A. Metro plans to roll out its microtransit service starting with the Watts/Willowbrook zone in summer 2020. It will operate seven days a week and 12 hours a day, initially.

The proposed rollout is as follows, with service zones being introduced in this order:

  • Summer 2020: Watts/Willowbrook
  • Fall 2020: Northwest San Fernando Valley
  • Winter 2020: LAX/Inglewood
  • Spring 2021: Highland Park/Eagle Rock/Glendale
  • Summer 2021: Altadena/Pasadena/Sierra Madre
  • Fall 2021: UCLA/VA Medical Center/Century City

Culver City Bus also plans to roll out microtransit service and will use the same regional platform established by L.A. Metro to create a seamless transfer and improved user experience across the region’s public transit network.

Similar to other pilot projects, microtransit staff will be continually adjusting this service based on demand and real-time results from data collected during its operation.

“This pilot project is the perfect way for us to test out a new, more flexible way for riders to make short trips to the store, to school, to the doctor or to connect with our bus and rail lines, without adding to congestion on the roads,” said L.A. Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “And it’s another example of how Metro is pushing the envelope to get people moving in Los Angeles County in new and innovative ways.”

In addition to offering a more flexible mobility option, the microtransit pilot project has been designed with safety in mind. Vehicles will be operated by L.A. Metro employees who are screened before they are hired and will receive specialized safety training, including incident prevention.

Name, branding, vehicle designs and uniforms for microtransit operators will be announced at a later date.

Microtransit will be the first of the Twenty-Eight by ’28 Initiative projects to be delivered in anticipation of the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. The initiative aims to build 28 major mobility projects by 2028.