Driver Shortage Undercuts the Potential of L.A.’s Recent Bus System Redesign

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority implemented a complete overhaul of its bus system in three waves over the course of 2021. A shortage of drivers for the system has made it impossible to implement that vision.

2 minute read

May 17, 2022, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Vesperstock / Shutterstock

An article by TransitCenter reports on the challenges facing the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) as it works to implement its recent NextGen system redesign while dealing with a shortage of drivers.

“Metro introduced NextGen’s schedule and route changes to the bus network over three ‘shake-ups’ in June, September, and December 2021,” according to the article. “The changes were supposed to restore bus service to its pre-Covid level. But since the fall, extreme operator shortfalls have forced Metro to cancel scheduled trips regularly, depriving riders of promised service or a shred of reliability.”

To reveal the scope of the problem, the article notes that one in five scheduled bus strips didn’t show in January. Half of the scheduled trips on the high-ridership 754 route were canceled, according to the article.

TransitCenter also completed an equity analysis using the TransitCenter Equity Dashboard to reveal the scale of the missed opportunity to improve bus service in Los Angeles according to the intended NextGen service map and schedule.

“Jobs, healthcare, and other places would become easier than ever to reach by public transit, even surpassing the pre-Covid-19 benchmark. NextGen service changes would also lessen historic transportation inequities, improving access the most for Black and Hispanic Angelenos, and for residents of historically disenfranchised, disinvested communities,” according to the article.

Black residents of the city stand to gain most from the full realization of the NextGen plan, according to the article:

Our analysis found that transit access to jobs would increase substantially more for Black people than for other Angelenos. Based on February and September 2021 schedules, Black people would gain access to nearly 48,000 additional jobs in 45 minutes by transit, a 36% increase (compared to an additional 30,000 jobs for the average person). Residents of LA Metro’s Equity Focus Communities (identified by the agency based on demographic determinants of disinvestment and disenfranchisement) would be able to access 64,000 additional jobs, a 25% increase.

A lot more detail, including maps and infographics from the TransitCenter equity analysis illustrate more of the ongoing transit crisis created by a shortage of drivers in the nation’s second largest city.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 in TransitCenter

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Red on white 'Room for Rent, Inquire Inside' sign

In Most U.S. Cities, Archaic Laws Limit Roommate Living

Critics argue laws preventing unrelated adults from living in the same home fail to understand the modern American household.

May 24, 2023 - The Atlantic

Vancouver Chuck Wolfe

Ten Signs of a Resurgent Downtown

In GeekWire, Chuck Wolfe continues his exploration of a holistic and practical approach to post-pandemic urban center recovery, anchored in local context and community-driven initiatives that promote livability, safety, and sustainability.

May 24, 2023 - GeekWire

Self-driving Mercedes semi truck on highway with white semi truck behind it

California Moves to Limit Autonomous Trucks

A bill passed by the State Assembly and moving on to the Senate would require autonomous semi trucks to have a trained human operator in the vehicle.

June 2 - The Sacramento Bee

Minnesota state capitol building with red flowers on green front lawn

Minnesota Budget Includes Significant Transit Investments

After a contentious debate, the state legislature passed a budget that changes how transportation projects are funded and supports increased transit service in the state.

June 2 - Governing

A vacant lot between two one-story brick buildings with graffiti in Detroit, Michigan

Proposed Land Value Tax Plan in Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan proposes hiking property taxes for vacant land and buildings while lowering the rate for occupied homes and businesses in a split tax plan he contends will resolve many of Detroit's blight and high property tax woes.

June 2 - The Detroit News

Project Manager III

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

UDO Transportation Planner

City of Charlotte - Charlotte Area Transit

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.