The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will pursue a partnership with Via, a transportation network company (TNC), to provide an affordable, equitable, and accessible first and last mile solution for customers to help bridge the first/last mile gap. The project will be supported in part by a $1.35 million from Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
Using new technology, customers will be able to book a seat in a shared, dynamically-routed vehicle to or from three major Metro stations. Metro will ensure that the rides are affordable for customers and will provide a payment solution for the unbanked. Customers with disabilities, including those with service animals, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids or who need additional assistance to board or alight will be able to request rides that meet their needs.
Metro’s project is part of a two-region partnership in Los Angeles County and the Puget Sound area with King County Metro and Sound Transit where each region will be testing a new type of partnership with a transportation network company.
The FTA developed the Mobility on Demand (MOD) program to support transit agencies and communities as they integrate new mobility tools like smart phone apps, bike- and car-sharing, and on-demand bus and van services. MOD projects help to make transportation systems more efficient and accessible, particularly for those who lack access to a car.
“We’re making our systems more inclusive — because access to public transportation is a right, not a privilege,” said Metro Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Everyone should be able to make a trip on Metro buses and trains, and these funds will help more riders get where they’re going quickly and conveniently."
“Our goal at Metro is to grow our service to provide more options and connections,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “We think this project has the potential to help us reach out to more people and, hopefully, make their lives easier.”
The Metro project plan was developed by Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation. “Metro is committed to expanding mobility options in Los Angeles County by leveraging Via’s innovations and expertise in offering dynamic shared rides,” said Joshua Schank, chief of Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation. “Our project with Via demonstrates that there is potential to align public and private sector interests to improve mobility and provide a public benefit through ensuring that rides are affordable, equitable, and accessible for our customers.”
To ensure that the project can provide lessons for future partnerships, the Eno Center for Transportation, UCLA, and the University of Washington will be studying the project to identify lessons learned. The FTA will be working with Booz Allen Hamilton and the Transportation Sustainability Research Center to evaluate all participating MOD programs.
Metro and Via are finalizing an agreement with the intent of beginning the Mobility on Demand project in summer 2018.