We live in extraordinary times. While Los Angeles presents some of the toughest mobility challenges in America, the world is experiencing levels of transportation innovation unprecedented in recent memory. And these changes are in turn redefining what an agency like Metro should be.
To take advantage of the promise offered by these opportunities, Metro has set a goal to be the most innovative transportation agency in the country, ensuring that we are using every tool at our disposal to help improve mobility in LA County.
With that in mind, the Office of Extraordinary Innovation was established to explore new ways to move LA by finding and testing leading-edge ideas that have potential to improve mobility for the people in the region. From public private capital partnerships to cutting edge new technologies, OEI is tasked with identifying, evaluating, developing, and implementing these new approaches. These efforts may be undertaken by Metro on its own or jointly in collaboration with private sector firms through public-private partnership agreements .
To carry out this work, OEI has three tools.
- Unsolicited Proposals allow private-sector companies working on transportation innovations to present new ideas directly to Metro for review and evaluation, jump-starting the traditional public procurement process. The most exciting proposals could lead to a demonstration, a pilot project, or in the most successful cases, full deployment across Metro’s system.
- The Metro Strategic Plan is a new approach to thinking about how Metro can create and maintain a seamless, world-class transportation system that better serves all LA County residents, whether they choose to walk, bike, take transit, or drive. OEI is working with staff across the agency, as well as partners and customers, to rethink what it means to improve mobility for 10 million people. The Strategic Plan will allow Metro to hone our business strategies in all areas of planning and implementation by setting a clear vision for the future, developing the roadmap to guide Metro in achieving our goals, measuring our progress, and ensuring that our agency can adapt to the changing needs of our customers and LA County residents, and the way they travel. Please check back on the Strategic Planning webpage in the future to learn how you can be involved!
- Internal Consulting allows OEI to flexibly and strategically engage in Metro initiatives where increased capacity and support or innovative and collaborative approaches are needed to develop and implement ideas of importance to Metro and the region.
Our theory is that by putting a focus on smart long-term goals and opening our doors to the innovation occurring in the private sector, Metro has the potential to create something in LA that is truly extraordinary.
OEI’s portfolio is always changing. New proposals and ideas are received and reviewed, ideas are developed and advanced, and projects are designed and implemented. Our work evolves but our mission remains focused on evaluating how new approaches, technologies, and ideas can help to move 10 million people faster, better, cheaper, and smarter.
Here’s what we’re working on right now.
Shared and demand-responsive mobility research and demonstrations
How can Metro leverage demand-responsive technology to improve mobility, customer experience and system performance?
MicroTransit Pilot Project (MTP)
Metro is designing a new demand-responsive service to improve the user experience of our customers. The new service will be on-call when riders want it, where they want it, connecting more people and places to our existing system.
On October 25th, the agency issued a Request for Proposal to partner with the private sector on the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of the new service. Proposals are due on December 6, 2017.
For more information on the project, visit www.metro.net/microtransit
Mobility on Demand (MOD)
The Federal Transit Administration has made $8 million in funding available for pilot programs to demonstrate and evaluate innovative approaches to integrated MOD solutions for public transportation. LA Metro, in partnership with Sound Transit in Seattle, Foothill Transit, Access Services and Los Angeles Department of Transportation, received $1.3 million to explore how an on-demand transportation platform can complement transit by delivering customers to rapid transit stations. Specific project elements will evaluate solutions to challenges such as payment integration, access for individuals with disabilities and those without smart phones, and service to minority and low-income areas.
Leading transportation researchers from the Eno Center for Transportation; University of California, Los Angeles; and the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington will document the process, analyze resulting data, and extract the lessons learned for application nationwide.
Delivering $120 Billion in Projects Better, Faster, Cheaper
Can new models for public-private partnerships help Metro to build the next generation of transportation projects sooner, smarter, and for less?
Public-private partnerships (P3s) can leverage Metro’s transportation investments, bringing the skills and resources of private sector partners to provide more bang for the buck, and do so sooner. OEI is reviewing potential options for innovative P3 delivery models for several projects around the county.
Traffic signal and system design strategies to speed Metro train trips
Can modern communications technologies, smart planning, and strategic scheduling help to speed Metro’s light rail trains through Los Angeles County by safely ensuring that rail transit is prioritized? Understanding how our rail network interacts with auto, bike, and pedestrian traffic on LA’s surface streets is a key question to making sure our network moves as quickly and safely as possible. OEI has convened key Metro staff and Los Angeles Department of Transportation to better understand challenges and opportunities to make rail travel as efficient as possible.
Expanding buses, trains, and stations as part of the Internet of Things
Could Metro riders benefit from Big Data, massive connectivity, and the Internet of Things?
As the cost of connecting continues to fall, the Internet of Things is challenging all sorts of enterprises to utilize data to better understand how connectivity can improve service and reduce costs. With 2,800 buses, 15,000 stops, 450 railcars, and 96 stations in LA County, Metro has major opportunities to use connectivity throughout our system to offer customers a better experience by improving safety, increasing security, and enhancing convenience and reliability for customers. OEI is working across departments at Metro to highlight opportunities for connectivity over the next several years.
Putting the customer first with Metro Headquarters Ride with OEI
Riding the system is key to understanding it. Understanding the system is key to improving it.
Once per month, OEI leads a ride along for Metro employees stationed at the Metro HQ to walk in the customer shoes. Riding the system during normal revenue service encourages employees from many different departments to see how their work contributes to the service we provide every day, as well as how the many moving parts, touch points and values at play interact within the broader ecosystem of the County. Periodically, OEI opens up these rides to the industry – stay tuned!
Key Interest Areas
OEI has a wide range of interest areas broadly focused on using new and innovative tools to improve and enhance mobility in LA County. While we’re open to any good idea, some key areas where we’re focused are:
- Public Private Partnerships (both capital and technology)
- Mobility on Demand, Shared Rides, & Micro-Transit
- Connected & Autonomous Vehicle Technologies
- Next Generation Bus System Innovations
- New Accessibility Models
- Smart Cities & Connected Streets (transit applications)
- Multi-Modal Trip Planning & Pricing
- Open Payments and Fare Integration
- Performance-Based Procurement
- Incentivizing Travel Mode and Time Shifts
- Safety, Security and Asset Management
- Big Data, Data Analytics and Data Management
The Office of Extraordinary Innovation was created in 2015 by CEO Phil Washington to identify the best ideas in transportation and help to test, refine, and implement them at LA Metro. OEI is focused on finding new ways of thinking and innovative new methods and approaches for bringing convenient, affordable, and effective mobility solutions to Los Angeles.
Who We Are
- Dr. Joshua Schank is our Chief Innovation Officer. Joshua came from the Eno Center for Transportation, a transportation policy think-tank in Washington, DC where he served as the President and Chief Executive Officer.
- Nadine Lee is the Deputy Chief Innovation Officer and has a background in civil engineering and project management. Nadine came to Metro after opening the Flatiron Flyer bus rapid transit project in Denver, Colorado.
- Rani Narula-Woods is our Sr. Director, Special Projects. She manages the agency's new demand-responsive service offering, Metro MicroTransit. Rani previously advised transit agencies and departments of transportation on multi-modal projects and the adoption and integration of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design.
- Nolan Borgman is a Sr. Transportation Planner managing Metro’s Unsolicited Proposal process and Headquarters Ride Along program. Prior to joining OEI, Nolan worked in the Office of the CEO, Management Audit Services Department and was a Coro Fellow. He is invested in improving the customer experience.
- Colin F. Peppard is our Innovation Manager for Outreach and Strategic Relationships. Colin spent the last five years working for U.S. Senator Thomas R. Carper as a senior policy aide on federal transportation policy.
- Marla Westervelt is a Senior Transportation Planner specializing in policy research. Marla was a Senior Policy Analyst and Assistant Editor of Eno Transportation Weekly for the Eno Center for the last three years.
- Tham Nguyen is a Senior Manager, Transportation Planning focused on delivering a living and breathing Metro Strategic Plan. Tham first joined OEI as a Metro Fellow, having worked on transit corridor planning, active transportation funding, complete streets initiatives, and the development of Metro’s Active Transportation Strategic Plan.
- Glendora Walker is the Executive Secretary for the Office of Extraordinary Innovation. Glendora previously supported the Rail Operations staff under Bruce Shelburne.
Innovation Fellows are LA Metro staff who will rotate into the Office of Extraordinary Innovation for a one year fellowship:
- Tamar Fuhrer is a Manager, Transportation Planning who joins us from the Operations department where she managed capital and operational projects. Prior to joining Metro, Tamar worked for Fehr and Peers, focusing on transportation planning, travel demand forecasting, and livable streets. Tamar is actively involved in the Los Angeles chapters of the American Planning Association (APA) and Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS), and currently serves on the Board of the latter.
- Eileen Hsu is a Senior Graphic Designer who joins us from the Design Studio in the Communications Department where she has designed the promotional and informational media of the TAP program. Prior to joining Metro, Eileen worked with Sussman-Prejza and LACMA.
OEI also accepts part-time academic fellows, and hosts high school and college interns on a temporary basis through the TCAP and MIP programs.
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