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 on-demand mobility research and demonstrations
Could Metro partner with a private sector ride-hailing technology company to cost-effectively improve first- and last-mile connections to core rail and bus networks for all customers? Shared mobility, ridesourcing, micro-transit, transportation network companies – call them what you want, but an explosion of new transportation technology companies are changing the way Angelenos travel. Metro wants to work with these new ventures to ensure that our customers have as many options as possible to get from here to there. OEI has drafted a short strategic white paper exploring the future of such partnerships, deployed a demonstration project along the Expo Line with the ride hail company Uber, and is actively developing several longer terms pilot projects.
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.
Exploring Metro’s Role in LA Through Podcasting
Can cultivating an empathetic relationship between a transit system and its riders help to improve service and use?
Like most of the world’s great transit systems, Metro is more than just a collection of stations, stops, trains, and buses. Iconic transportation systems are the lifeblood of vibrant, urban communities. Yet all too often, we communicate with customers as engineers, planners, and operators, rather than as fellow Angelenos. OEI is working to develop a series of podcasts to go beyond how to get from North Hollywood to downtown LA and start to explore the long and complex relationship between Metro, Los Angeles, and its people.
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
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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Tham Nguyen is a Transportation Planning Manager who has worked on transit corridor planning, active transportation funding, complete streets initiatives, and most recently, the development of Metro’s Active Transportation Strategic Plan.
- Nolan Borgman is a Transportation Planner and spent the last two years supporting the CEO’s Office.
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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