Poor Returns for L.A.'s Transit on Demand Pilot

Similar to microtransit on demand programs in other cities, Los Angeles' ongoing experiment is proving to be very expensive (for the public) for the benefit of very few riders.

1 minute read

October 11, 2019, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


"A half-year into Metro and Via’s year-long 'Mobility on Demand' pilot shows that ride-hail continues to be an expensive way to provide mobility for very few riders," reports Joe Linton.

The Via pilot launched in January 2019, with funding assistance from the federal government, offering on-demand, fixed-price ride-hailing services in the hopes of providing first-last mile connections to and from several specific stations in the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority system.

"Last month, Metro released its five-page second quarter update report showing the latest statistics for the transit-on-demand pilot," according to Linton. While ridership with the program is growing, thanks to expensive efforts to grow ridership, "total ridership is still dismal," writes Linton.

"With a $1.75 million Metro expenditure for one year – 260 weekdays in that year, Metro is spending $6,730 per day for these rides. 1,675 rides per week translates to 335 rides per day. 335 rides for $6,730 means that each ride is costing Metro $20.09 (that is just Metro’s cost – these also cost FTA and forgo Via’s “risk sharing”)."

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