Metro is harnessing the power of new technology to improve the way Metro customers move.
To leverage new innovations in transportation technology, Metro is issuing a request to the private sector to team with Metro to plan, design, implement and evaluate a brand new service.
Unlike a standard bus, the service will follow turn-by-turn instructions from a navigation system that uses live traffic conditions and real-time requests for picks-up and drops-offs to generate the most efficient possible shared trips for Metro customers. The service will be used for short trips under approximately 20 minutes in duration in defined service zones, and utilize vehicles that are smaller than traditional transit vehicles.
Whether beginning a trip, completing a trip, or seeking a complete trip solution, riding the new service will be intuitive, user-friendly, and designed to encourage the use of multiple modes of public transportation.
The new service, known as MicroTransit, will be on-call when riders want it, where they want it, connecting more people and places to our existing system.
A lot of the details still need to be fleshed out. But there are some likely features. Imagine a transit experience in which you can be picked up and dropped off where you want when you want (called ‘virtual stops’). You will have an option for mobile payment and you can get reliable real-time information on your pick-up and drop-off times.
Maybe you’ll want to use this service to connect to a rail or bus line. Or maybe you’ll find that you can take an entire trip solely using Metro’s MicroTransit. The point is that the new service is flexible and convenient for customers no matter where you’re heading.
We don’t know yet. MicroTransit is considered a premium service, so the fare will likely be higher than our regular $1.75 bus or rail fare. But our MicroTransit also will likely be cheaper than a similar ride in a Lyft, Uber, taxis or other private mobility services.
That’s to be determined, based in part on the knowledge and expertise of the team we partner with.
That said, we envision Metro’s MicroTransit could be useful in parts of our region that aren’t quite dense enough to support frequent bus service, or in areas where getting to bus or rail stops can be tricky due to distance or multiple transfers.
We look forward to hearing from firms responding to our request for proposal which is set to be issued on Wednesday, October 25.
We’ve seen over the years that bus and rail service can perform quite well in our region — Metro, after all, runs the nation’s third busiest transit system.
But we also recognize that we’re serving a region where the number of people who drive has remained very high over the years — currently about 84 percent of those commuting to work in Los Angeles County.
We believe that Metro has an obligation to test new services to give more people more options other than driving and to better connect people to local bus and rail networks. Keep in mind, too, that advancements in technology — enabled by smart phones and cell coverage — have allowed new mobility services to emerge that meet customers’ needs in ways not previously possible. The MicroTransit Pilot can take advantage of new and emerging technology and connect more people to the investments we’re making in our region’s transit and road system.
We don’t think so. Most research indicates MicroTransit has the potential to be complementary to transit. We are more interested in determining if expanding our menu of options provides improved mobility for our customers, rather than whether it takes away ridership from other modes. If existing riders wind up preferring this service to our other services, that is very useful to know.
Metro is putting this pilot project into place as part of our commitment to innovation and exploration of new ways of doing things. For us, success looks like learning whether and how customers might use a service like this, what key service design factors matter most to customers and how we can operate in way that is financially sustainable. Answering those questions would be a huge win, as we identify innovative new ideas that help address our most pressing local transportation challenges.
Metro hosted a pre-proposal industry forum to provide potential private sector partners information about the pilot. The industry forum allowed vendors to ask questions directly to Metro staff, provide feedback on the project and network with potential partners to build a team of technologists, planners, and marketers to respond to the solicitation. Over 300 individuals attended from an array of technology, planning, and outreach firms. Participants came from across the globe.
We did a lot of research when preparing this project, and deliberately put the customer experience (user experience) at the forefront of the planning process. MicroTransit has never been delivered by a transit agency on this scale. We spent a lot of hours speaking with a variety of stakeholders — both public and private — and soliciting input because we want to get this right.
The original article from The Source
For key documents related to the MicroTransit RFP, visit Metro's Vendor Portal