Data showed that access to the Metro Bus network has improved.  -  Photo: Flin Flon Transit/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Data showed that access to the Metro Bus network has improved.

Photo: Flin Flon Transit/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has released its first assessment of the effectiveness of the NextGen Bus Plan, revealing that the plan, has delivered a more accessible and competitive service compared with pre-NextGen bus service, according to the agency's news release.

Implemented in December 2021, the NextGen Bus Plan was the first comprehensive review of the Metro bus network. The new network created through this plan would be capable of supporting growth in overall ridership for the bus system by addressing opportunities to be more competitive at off-peak times and for shorter distance trips.

The plan’s first evaluation compared how all trips (including all modes such as using a private automobile) and transit trips for an average weekday in 2019 could benefit from the NextGen bus network compared to Metro’s pre-NextGen bus network. Trip data was gathered from anonymized cell phone records and Metro TAP card and ridership data.

Data showed that access to the Metro Bus network has improved, with 2.2 million more people now having one-quarter-mile access to 10-minute frequency or better bus service during weekday midday hours, an increase of more than 700%. Approximately 1.3 million of those people reside in Equity Focus Communities, which Metro identified as relying most on transit for their daily transportation needs.

The evaluation also reveals that peak period weekday access to 10-minute or better bus service increased by 900,000 people, a 55% increase. Approximately 500,000 of those people are in Equity Focused Communities.

“The NextGen Bus Plan has been a real game-changer for our region as we strive to improve the frequency and reliability of our transit system through innovative approaches that bring results,” said Ara J. Najarian, Glendale City Council member. “This has been a top priority of mine and our entire Board. The results speak volumes about our success in making our bus network the best that it can be.”

On access to jobs via the Metro bus system, more than 1.1 million more jobs were also accessible through 10-minute or better midday bus services created under the NextGen Bus Plan, an increase of 350%. Gains of more than 350,000 jobs accessed in peak periods were logged on this same network, which represents a 33% increase. 

“The NextGen Bus Plan has been successful in improving access to jobs and key destinations like grocery stores, educational institutions, parks, and medical centers,” said Stephanie Wiggins, Metro CEO. “We are pleased with the results of this report that show NextGen is delivering faster, more frequent, and more competitive service to our bus riders, who make up nearly 80% of our customers.”

In terms of being competitive, the NextGen Bus Study identified transit travel times of less than 2.5 times car travel times for the same trip as being able to generate a much higher mode share for transit, typically 5-6% rather than 2% or less when trips times on transit are more than 2.5 times those for car travel. The NextGen Bus Study identified over 580,000 extra trips that had transit travel times of less than 2.5 times car travel times, a 2.4% increase compared to the number of such trips using the pre-NextGen transit services. Approximately 240,000 of these trips were being made by residents of Equity Focus Communities. 

In addition, 60.6% of transit trips in this analysis used NextGen services with 10-minute or better frequency, and 82.8% of the transit trips were made using the 15-minute or better NextGen bus services.

In terms of travel times for the NextGen Bus Plan, over 500,000 more overall trips have short (30-minute or less) travel times, a 13% increase compared to the pre-NextGen network.

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