Micro-Transit Options in Los Angeles

With bus ridership in steady decline, Los Angeles public transit is exploring user-friendly options. One of those options includes a reinvented version of popular ride-sharing services. But unlike Uber or Lyft, Metro's plan would provide vans instead of cars and pick-ups would include more than one person. To stay competitive, the new public ride-sharing service will likely be less expensive than private ride-sharing solutions but it will have greater customization than current bus routes. The solution stemmed from the results of a survey given to 2000 riders and conducted by Metro.

Survey results showed many riders felt as if Metro's buses simply "did not know where they were going." Indeed, it is difficult to please all the people all of the time. Yet circuitous routes are problematic for those riders who would prefer direct access to their destinations. Still buses have no choice but to make numerous stops across sprawling neighborhoods in order to pick up all of their passengers. But as passenger numbers decrease so does the justification for numerous stops and long routes. Rider patience is also decreasing but a compromise is on its way and its name is micro-transit.

The term micro-transit refers to smaller vehicles and shorter distances, but it also alludes to a greater sense of personalized and improved customer service. Mass transit systems rely on riders to accommodate the system's vast infrastructure. Micro-transit systems cater to riders' needs. Metro CEO Phil Washington says the system will feature "curb-to-curb" service and riders would be able to make reservations.

The plan's details have yet to be hashed out, including the cost for both riders and the city. There is also little mention of hiring more drivers or what will happen to Metro's existing fleet of mass-transit buses. Yet those physical problems are presently bowing to digital solutions. Metro has hired a private firm to analyze rider data. Based on the data, Metro will be able to determine which riders would benefit most from micro-transit services.

Washington told news agencies that the service should "launch very, very soon."

But for riders who have grown tired of long commutes, the solution might not come soon enough. In the meantime, Metro is currently studying its existing routes and stops in an effort to improve existing services.