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Metro OEI - Office of Extraordinary Innovation

Office of Extraordinary Innovation

OEI is envisioning the future of transportation in Los Angeles County.

Imagine less traffic but greater mobility. Cleaner air, more open space, seamless transfers and simpler connections between destinations for all who live, work, and play within our County. Los Angeles presents some of the country’s toughest mobility challenges, but the residents of the County deserve low-cost, reliable alternatives to driving alone. As Metro’s strategic thinktank and project incubator, OEI is discovering more and better ways for Metro to provide high quality mobility options, deliver outstanding trip experiences, and enhance communities and lives.

How will the future alter traveler needs and wants? Can drivers be nudged toward travelling differently? What types of project contracts drive performance, accelerate delivery and best mitigate risk? How can Metro improve the customer experience? These are just a few of the questions we consider every day as we seek to deliver the goals of Vision 2028.

Metro is reinventing mobility and OEI advances that effort primarily through three program areas:

  • Metro Vision 2028 is our agency’s big picture plan to improve mobility in Los Angeles County and explains what the public can expect from Metro over the next ten years. Its visionary outcome will be to double the share of non-drive-alone trips by 2028. The plan has five major goals:
    1. Provide high-quality mobility options that enable people to spend less time traveling.
    2. Deliver outstanding trip experiences for all users of the transportation system.
    3. Enhance communities and lives through mobility and access to opportunity.
    4. Transform LA County through regional collaboration and national leadership.
    5. Provide responsive, accountable, and trustworthy governance within the Metro organization.
  • Unsolicited Proposals and Public Private Partnerships (P3) Unsolicited Proposals allow the private sector to present innovative ideas directly to Metro for evaluation, jump-starting the procurement process by bringing different approaches and solutions to the table. Whether it’s an idea to accelerate delivery of a large capital transportation project through a public private partnership or improve customer experience with a small station-based project, UPs can lead to a demonstration, pilot project, or even full deployment across Metro’s system. The Unsolicited Proposal Policy operationalizes Metro Vision 2028 through innovative technologies and business models, enabling Metro to more quickly realize the benefits of new opportunities to deliver service better, faster and more efficiently.
  • New Mobility projects bring leading-edge transportation services made possible by new technology to the public transit environment. New Mobility pilots new service delivery models in partnership with Transportation Network and Micro-mobility companies and a focus on improving mobility and access for our most vulnerable communities.

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OEI’s projects and initiatives align with the Metro Vision 2028 strategic plan. While some are helping to further develop those goals, others are advancing promising unsolicited proposals, exploring P3s, or testing new mobility strategies.

Mobility on Demand

The Mobility on Demand (MOD) pilot was designed to enhance first / last mile connections to rapid transit for vulnerable populations who are excluded from private mobility providers. This includes people in wheelchairs, people without smartphones, and low-income riders.

Metro is partnering with Via to provide on-demand rides to select transit stations in three service zones in North Hollywood, El Monte and Compton. Rides can be requested using Via’s mobile app or by calling their call center. All rides are a free transfer from the Metro system. Therefore, no credit card or bank account information is required to book.

The MOD pilot has been in operation since January 2019. Its flexibility has been critical to Metro’s response to the CoVID-19 health crisis by suspending shared rides in support of social distancing, offering point-to-point services to accommodate essential trips, and adding new essential destinations beyond zone boundaries.

Traffic Reduction Study

Rising demand for the movement of goods and people increases congestion and affects the safety, efficiency, and capacity of not only our freeways but also our regional highways and arterial streets. What if we could double the number of trips taken by transportation modes other than driving alone? The Traffic Reduction Study (TRS) aims to:

  1. Explore ways to dramatically improve mobility, equity, and environmental outcomes to achieve Metro’s strategic goals.
  2. Provide reliable and convenient travel options for people to bypass traffic.
  3. Investigate the feasibility and framework for testing and implementing pricing strategies to reduce traffic.

Metro is conducting a feasibility study to identify a pilot program and ensure positive outcomes for mobility, equity, and the environment, while also developing grassroots support for the initiative through community and public engagement.

Sepulveda Transit Corridor

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project will be a new high capacity transit service connecting the San Fernando Valley and the Westside of L.A, and eventually LAX. More than 400,000 people travel through the Sepulveda Pass every day, but the natural barrier created by the Santa Monica Mountains means that most people traveling between these areas are funneled primarily onto the I-405 Freeway, already ranked as one of the most congested urban highways in the nation. The Valley-Westside portion of the project, scheduled to open by 2033, has approximately $5.7 billion allocated to it. Approximately $3.8 billion in additional funds are allocated to extend service from the Westside to LAX, with a 2057 opening date.

Metro is currently procuring for a Preliminary Development Agreement (PDA) for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, supporting presumed P3 project delivery. A PDA differs from traditional procurement processes because it allows Metro to transfer project development risks to the selected developer and allows the selected developer first right to negotiate project delivery.  Metro developed the procurement to incorporate a structure that allows for more than one PDA Team to support project development, among other features. The solicitation has attracted significant market interest, and multiple teams have qualified to submit proposals.

Comprehensive Pricing Strategy

The Metro Comprehensive Pricing Study (CPS) is a system-wide review of Metro’s pricing policies for all of its transportation services, including fares, bike share, parking and tolls. Vision 2028 directs staff to conduct a comprehensive transportation system pricing study to determine options for meeting goals of revenue, equity, security, ridership, and user experience, and to implement pricing policies arising from the study.

The guiding principles for the CPS process is inclusivity, transparency, traceability, and consensus-based collaboration. Research and engagement will be undertaken inclusively with internal and external stakeholders, and decision points will be traceable to key data points and group deliberations. The study will strive for consensus-based collaboration. Ultimately, identifying and implementing pricing policies will require a whole-of-agency effort. Through CPS, Metro is demonstrating its leadership in evidence-based policymaking to improve mobility and equitable access to opportunities.

New Mobility Regional Roadmap

Emerging transportation network companies (TNCs) and micro-mobility companies have
increased mobility options yet created negative externalities. On the one hand, ride hailing and
scooter and bike sharing companies provide rides on demand, reduce the need for car
ownership and offer a first / last mile option for transit riders; but on the other, they have
contributed to roadway and curbside congestion, increased vehicle emissions, and raised
important questions about labor practices. Evidence suggests that TNCs also contribute to
declines in transit ridership and therefore threaten the sustainability of an important public
service.

Metro is building a coalition of cities, councils of governments and other municipal partners to
collectively determine the best path forward for managing New Mobility across LA County and
achieving our regional mobility goals. The New Mobility Regional Roadmap will:

  1. Identify challenges and opportunities around new mobility
  2. Adopt guiding principles and shared goals around new mobility
  3. Explore potential tactics for meeting shared goals
  4. Commit to and coordinate roles and responsibilities

OEI plans to convene a New Mobility Regional Roadmap Working Group to establish guiding
principles and shared goals.

Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE)

ABLE is a program to enforce parking violations in bus-only lanes through the use of on-vehicle, forward facing cameras.

Expanding and enforcing bus-only lanes is critical to achieving the mobility, safety, equity, and environmental goals of Vision 2028 and the NextGen Bus Study. OEI’s research team has confirmed that parked cars in bus-only lanes is a pervasive safety and performance issue, and that ABLE is the most effective and cost-effective enforcement tool; however, ABLE technology is not currently authorized for use in Los Angeles County.

In 2018, Metro received a Proposal from CarmaCam and conducted a Proof of Concept (POC). The POC findings, combined with primary research and industry benchmarking, led to ABLE’s inclusion in the legislative programs of both Metro and the City of Los Angeles. In early 2020, enabling legislation – AB2337 -- was introduced.

Travel Rewards Research Pilot

In 2017, more than 75% of commuter car trips in LA County were single occupancy. Rather than drive alone, what if drivers took transit, carpooled, bicycled or telecommuted instead? The Travel Rewards Research Pilot is studying what types of incentives would nudge drivers to make more socially responsible choices.

This pilot project hypothesizes that while many LA County residents and others nationally could easily make some trips using alternatives to SOVs, very few actually do. This could be because individuals are simply in the habit of driving alone, even when alternatives could save them time and money and make them happier and healthier.  We are looking to better understand the role of cognitive biases and routines in shaping travel behaviors, and how this knowledge can be leveraged to encourage people who are driving alone to try something new, using financial or programmatic incentives, or other behavioral strategies. To determine which mix of incentives has the best ROI, the team is leveraging tools and skills from Behavioral Economics, Human Centered Design, Experimental Evaluation and Data Science to test a variety of programmatic, reputational, experiential, and monetary incentive across representative employment districts/corridors in LA County. Emerging new-mobility (ridesharing, bike/scooter-sharing, ride-hailing) and communications mobile and web platforms are the primary delivery mechanism for incentive testing alongside programmatic interventions.

This initiative is being led by OEI and developed in partnership with the Metro Planning, TAP, Communications, Human Capital and Development Departments, the 2019 Metro Leadership Academy Team “Ridership”, and leading behavioral economics experts from Duke University, Harvard University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

COVID-19 Recovery Task Force

Metro’s CEO and Senior Leadership Team authorized a Recovery Taskforce, chaired by OEI, to develop a plan for Metro to respond to challenges brought by the COVID-19 crisis. The Taskforce will meet between April 30 and September 30, 2020. It will issue monthly progress reports with recommended early actions, plus a final recovery plan. Taskforce members come from diverse backgrounds and departments. Many are graduates of Metro’s Leadership Academy, the ENO/Max program or The Women and Girls Council; and membership includes Executive Officers for Equity and Race and Customer Experience.

The pandemic has devastated the regional economy and significantly impacted Metro services and ridership. Simultaneously, stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements have given us a glimpse of what life in Los Angeles could be like without so many cars on the road.  A return to the status quo of traffic, unhealthy air and dangerous streets would be a generational missed opportunity to transform the region for the better. The Recovery Plan will align with the goals of Vision 2028. It will include short, medium and long-term recommendations to help Metro respond to and recover from the pandemic; contribute to L.A. County’s economic recovery; and advance mobility without congestion as the ‘new normal’ after the pandemic.

Travel Rewards Research Pilot

In 2017, more than 75% of commuter car trips in LA County were single occupancy. Rather than drive alone, what if drivers took transit, carpooled, bicycled or telecommuted instead?

OEI is exploring the development of a Travel Rewards Research Pilot in partnership with the Metro Planning, TAP, Communications, Human Capital and Development Departments, the 2019 Metro Leadership Academy Team “Ridership”, and leading behavioral economics experts to study what types of incentives would nudge drivers to make choices towards solving traffic.

This potential pilot project hypothesizes that while many LA County residents and others nationally could easily make some trips using alternatives to driving alone, very few actually do. This could be because individuals are simply in the habit of driving alone, even when alternatives could save them time and money and make them happier and healthier. We are looking to better understand the role of cognitive biases and routines in shaping travel behaviors, and how this knowledge can be leveraged to encourage people who are driving alone to try something new, using financial or programmatic incentives, or other behavioral strategies. To determine which mix of incentives has the best ROI, the team is considering leveraging tools and skills from Behavioral Economics, Human Centered Design, Experimental Evaluation and Data Science to test a variety of programmatic, reputational, experiential, and monetary incentive across representative employment districts/corridors in LA County. Emerging new-mobility (ridesharing, bike/scooter-sharing, ride-hailing) and communications mobile and web platforms would be the primary delivery mechanism for incentive testing alongside programmatic interventions.


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
Chief Innovation Office
Joshua 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.

Mark Vallianatos
Executive Officer of Innovation
Mark has researched, taught and advocated on a range of policy issues, including transportation, housing, homelessness, urban planning, climate change, sustainability, food and trade. Mark previously directed the think tank LAplus, was policy director for Abundant Housing LA, researched and taught urban and environmental policy at Occidental College, and worked on international trade for Friends of the Earth. Mark is co-author of The Next Los Angeles: the Struggle for a Livable City. Mark received his BA and JD from the University of Virginia.

Tham Nguyen
Senior Director
Tham is a Senior Director. She is responsible for facilitating the implementation of Vision 2028 and monitoring its progress to ensure alignment with the agency’s strategic vision and goals. Her professional work has focused on the intersection of improving mobility, livability, and environmental outcomes. Her work in transportation has spanned over 16 years and includes leadership roles in multimodal planning, transportation policy development, and infrastructure funding. She currently oversees Metro’s transformational initiatives, including studying the feasibility of testing and implementing pricing strategies to reduce traffic congestion and exploring opportunities for expanding access to shared, demand-responsive transportation options.

Colin F. Peppard
Senior Director, P3 and Innovation
Colin is a Senior Director overseeing Metro’s Public-Private Partnerships (P3) Program. He oversees Metro’s work to identify, evaluate, and implement innovative approaches to deliver high performing capital project investments and emerging mobility services. Colin previously led the implementation of Metro’s Unsolicited Proposal Policy, where he developed and launched Metro’s first on-the-ground pilot project with a Transportation Network Company (TNC). Prior to that, he served as Policy Advisor and Committee Staff to a senior United States Senator on federal transportation issues Washington, D.C.

Andrew Quinn
Senior Manager, P3 and Innovation
Andrew is a Senior Innovation Manager developing and evaluating Metro’s Public-Private Partnerships opportunities. Over the last three years, Andrew worked to expand Metro’s public and employee Electric Vehicle Charger programs and to electrify Metro’s Non-Revenue Fleet. Previously he worked as a Capital Projects Coordinator for the City of Long Beach and as an urban planning consultant in international development.

Avital Shavit
Senior Manager, Transportation Planning
Avital is a Senior Manager in OEI where she focuses on shaping policies and implementing projects that work to nudge LA County towards more sustainable modes of transportation instead of driving alone. She previously worked in Metro’s Planning department launching and managing the Metro Bike Share program. A daily transit and bike rider with a flair for “cycle chic” fashion, Avital holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from UCLA.

Raymond Kan
Senior Manager
Raymond is leading the first agency-wide review of Metro’s pricing policies for all transportation services, including transit fare policy and user charges for on-demand mobility. Ray’s professional work has centered around evidence-based policy development at the nexus of transport, land use, and the environment. Some of his prior work include regional apartment parking studies and transit-oriented affordable housing. With stops at TransLink, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and Metro Vancouver Regional District, Ray brings a regional perspective to city-making. Ray holds an undergraduate degree in civil engineering, and a graduate degree in urban planning.

Ryan Wiggins
Senior Manager
Ryan is focused on the Traffic Reduction Study and implementation and monitoring of Vision 2028. Prior to LA metro he worked in the nonprofit and consulting industries on climate mitigation and adaptation planning, economics, and land use and mobility policy at the federal, state, and local levels. He has Master of Arts degrees from the United Nations Mandated University for Peace and American University in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development and International Development, and an undergraduate degree in International Environmental Policy from UC Davis. He is also a U.S. Navy veteran.

Nolan Borgman
Manager, Transportation Planning
Nolan is a Transportation Manager primarily responsible for managing the Unsolicited Proposals Policy and process. Through this process, Nolan works with the private sector and Metro Departments to develop a range of low-cost, high impact innovation pilots and proofs of concept. Nolan has overseen the review of over 130 proposals, advancing over a dozen ideas from concept to implementation. In 2019, his work on the use of drones for data collection was recognized with Metro’s Innovation Award. He was also a member of the inaugural Women and Girls Governing Council, which received Metro’s 2019 CEO Award for its recommendations to improve transportation outcomes for women and girls. Before helping to launch OEI, Nolan was a Transportation Planner in the Office of the CEO. Nolan joined Metro in 2013 as a Trainee with the Management Audit Services Department after completing the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in Los Angeles. Nolan earned his Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy from Occidental College. While at Occidental College, he also studied abroad in Senegal and played two seasons of varsity soccer.

Emma Huang
Principal Transportation Planner
Emma is a Principal Transportation Planner and leads OEI’s research and policy efforts. Under the FTA’s Mobility on Demand Sandbox Demonstration program, Emma worked to design, implement, and project manage Metro’s pilot partnership with Via for on-demand first-and-last mile shared ride service, which launched in January of 2019. She was part of the project team and a contributing author to Vision 2028, Metro’s agency-wide strategic plan that was adopted by the Board in June 2018. Emma co-authored UpRouted: Exploring Microtransit in the United States , published by the Eno Center for Transportation in 2018. She received her Master of Public Policy degree from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, where she focused on urban policy, and her Bachelor’s degree in Political Studies from Pitzer College.

Shaun Miller
Senior Transportation Planner
Shaun is supporting Metro’s Unsolicited Proposals Policy. He reviews conceptual proposals from firms with ideas to design, finance, build, deliver or operate services and implement innovative proposals to help Metro achieve its strategic planning goals. Shaun brings energy and sustainability planning, policy and project delivery experience, previously serving as an advisor to cities, agencies and school districts across California. He received his MA in Philosophy from the University of Houston and MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside.

Cassie Halls
Transportation Planner
Cassie is a Transportation Planner supporting OEI’s research and policy programs. She leads design and implementation of the Visionary Seed Fund, liaises with OEI’s Advisory Board, and facilitates the inter-departmental World Class Bus Initiative. She was previously Manager of Special Projects for the Shared-Use Mobility Center, a Chicago-based non-profit, where she led various research and technical assistance programs. Cassie is passionate about equitable, data-driven and community-led strategies that enhance urban mobility. She is working toward her MA in Urban and Regional Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She hails from Seattle, Washington, where she received her BA in Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington.

Glendora Walker
Executive Secretary
Glendora is the Executive Secretary to Joshua Schank, OEI’s Chief Innovation Officer. Glendora is a 23-year veteran of Metro, 16 of those years she served in both Bus and Rail Operations. She holds a Master’s degree in Management and Leadership from the University of LaVerne

Innovation Fellows

Innovation Fellows are LA Metro staff who will rotate into the Office of Extraordinary Innovation for a one year fellowship:

Marie Sullivan
Innovation Fellow+
Marie is a Transportation Manager at Metro. Marie is joining OEI from the Transit Oriented Communities team at Metro. She works primarily on Metro’s New Mobility projects– both the Mobility on Demand partnership with Via and the Metro Micro Transit Pilot. Her experience at Metro has focused on specialized real estate projects such as The Bloc / Metro Connection and the North Hollywood Joint Development. She hails from Denver, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and Spanish from Pomona College and a Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Southern California. Marie spent three years editing documentaries in New York City, and she took her first shared, on-demand taxi during her 2003 semester in Havana, Cuba. Her travels in Latin America drew her to on-demand, shared jitney style transportation, and she is excited to be newly re-immersed in that world in Los Angeles.

Doreen Morrissey
Innovation Fellow
Doreen is a Principal Transportation Planner at Metro. Prior to joining OEI, Doreen served as a GIS Analyst with the Systems Analysis and Research team. There, she focused on socioeconomic data and travel patterns, worked in Long Range Planning supporting the development of Measure M and the Call for Projects, and most recently was part of Metro’s Federal Transportation Improvement Program (FTIP) where she managed the programming of over $23bn in transportation projects. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from CalArts and a Master of Landscape Architecture from CalPoly Pomona. As part of the 2018 EnoMAX transit agency exchange program, Doreen developed a business case for Fareless Transit in LA County.

Interns

OEI accepts part-time academic fellows, and hosts high school and college interns on a temporary basis through the Transportation Career Academy Program (TCAP) and the Metro Internship Program (MIP), respectively.

Leah Blue
Administrative Intern

Luis Garcia
Administrative Intern

Fuijae Lee
Administrative Intern

Contact Us

Unsolicited Proposals can be emailed to UnsolicitedProposals@metro.net
Other ideas, questions, input, or feedback? Email Innovation@metro.net


Off Peak Podcast

Off Peak Metro Podcast Off Peak celebrates the true tales and secret stories that happen between Point A and Point B in Southern California and beyond. Challenging the traditional car-centric narrative of Los Angeles, Off Peak explores the rich history and future of rail, bus, cycling, walking and all manner of getting around in LA.

Subscribe to the Podcast
Subscribe to the podcast or listen to individual episodes below.

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Episode 6: First Woman Everything

We interview Leilia Bailey-Leahy the first woman hired as an RTD bus operator after World War II. Ms. Bailey-Leahy was the first woman Division Dispatcher and the first woman Division Manager, and later the first woman Director of Transportation at RTD. In fact she was the first woman to do so many things in Los Angeles transit that the plaque dedicated to her at Metro HQ can barely fit in all the firsts. We hear her amazing life story from the segregated South to the highest rungs of transportation.

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Episode 5: Bus Roadeo

Once a year, the best of the best Metro bus operators compete in an annual Bus Roadeo. Set at Santa Anita Racetrack, there’s an obstacle course, a test on how well the operators know their buses and an ADA challenge. The winner goes on to represent LA at the International Bus Roadeo in the spring. We report from this year’s nail biter!

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Why Are We Doing This? - Bonus Episode

During this first season of Off Peak we've received great feedback and interest. We've also heard one question come up over and over: “Why are you doing this?” In this bonus micro-episode, Joshua Schank, Chief Innovation Officer of Metro, takes on the big why.

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