The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) introduced the first phase of its NextGen Bus Plan and its innovative Metro Micro project on Sunday.
NextGen represents the first major overhaul of Metro’s bus network in more than 25 years and is designed to speed up bus trips, provide more frequent trips to the bulk of Metro’s riders, and improve reliability and accessibility.
Metro Micro is an on-demand shared ride service using vans for short trips within designated service zones in Los Angeles County. The technology behind this service will allow riders to plan entire trips — both Metro Micro and their bus or train ride — in real-time using a single mobile app, internet browser, or 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.
Rides will cost an introductory rate of $1 per ride (transfer not included) for the first six months of Metro Micro service in each zone. Metro staff will return to the board at the end of the six-month introductory period to consider potential fare adjustments.
In February, the Metro Board approved awarding a $29-million contract to private ridesharing company RideCo Inc. to partner with Metro to operate Metro Micro. The three-year pilot project is designed to replace short, solo trips by offering a flexible, on-demand service operated by Metro employees in vehicles that hold up to 10 passengers.
Like other pilot projects, Metro Micro staff will be continually adjusting this service based on demand and real-time results from data collected during its operation.
As part of the agency’s NextGen Bus Plan to improve bus frequencies and better serve riders, bus trips are being added to many Metro Bus lines to improve the frequency of service and provide more room for riders to practice social distancing whenever possible. Metro always requires riders to wear a face covering.
Other bus routes are being modified with route changes to speed up trips and a few lines with low ridership are being discontinued. Riders can use this online tool to check their bus line for any changes. Also, the Transit app for smartphones — Metro's official app — will show changes.
When the NextGen Bus Plan is fully implemented in December 2021, there will be more frequent, all-day bus service on more routes, shorter wait times for buses and more reliable service. Even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NextGen network and its focus on improving the frequency of service will better serve bus riders.
"This pandemic has shown how critical it is that LA Metro help people travel to essential jobs and tasks," said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. "Metro Micro will give people in these zones a new, convenient way to get around while still meeting our goals of reducing traffic by using shared rides. And NextGen will give people throughout Los Angeles County a faster, more reliable bus system that will continue to improve and evolve as we recover from the pandemic."