In Defense of Pilot Projects

An initial lack of success of transportation pilot projects isn't always an indicator of long-term viability in a rapidly shifting transportation landscape, according to this article.

1 minute read

December 7, 2019, 1:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


On-Demand Shuttle

King County / Via to Transit

Arielle Fleisher, transportation policy director for SPUR, writes a defense of the pilot project, source of wild ideas.

Unprecedented change in the transportation system, most of it emerging from the private market, has caught the public sector flatfooted. In response, many cities and transit agencies are starting to pilot new kinds of services, testing a variety of ideas for giving people better ways to get around. In a number of cases, the early ridership results from these pilot programs are not strong, which has led many to dismiss the new ideas — and the agencies for trying them.

But this skepticism undermines the intended purpose of pilots: to test and refine the opportunity to extend the transportation system and get people out of their cars. Rather than looking down on pilots, we should embrace experimentation as a chance to learn and to improve transportation outcomes.

With L.A. Metro's on-demand transportation pilot, Via, as an example, Fleisher suggests a few ways pilot projects can be improved to ensure better results, and the transportation solution needed in communities.

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