How Los Angeles Redefined Mobility as a Service

Los Angeles Department of Transportation General Manager Seleta Reynolds discusses her vision for urban mobility and the growing role of city leadership.

2 minute read

November 2, 2016, 6:00 AM PDT

By rzelen @rzelen

Los Angeles STreet

Supannee Hickman / Shutterstock

Mobility in the city of Los Angeles is taking center stage next week as voters will decide on Measure M, a half-cent sales tax increase for public transportation and traffic improvement efforts. To capitalize on those investments, L.A. needs a paradigm shift to embrace technologies and innovation.

In an exclusive interview with The Planning Report, LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds discusses how city departments of transportation are transitioning from focusing on infrastructure-delivery to managing people’s mobility. Reynolds joined TPR to explain some of the most innovative features of her department’s recently released Urban Mobility in the Digital Age report. Reynolds describes the megatrends she is seeing in transportation innovation, such as shared mobility (including Uber/Lyft, bike-sharing, and car-sharing) and the increasing connectedness of vehicles.

The report looks to address the future of transportation in Los Angeles, for example assessing the role of autonomous vehicles, the growing incorporation of connected devices, and how best to utilize cloud-based software. With the passage of Measure M, LADOT will be working with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on how best to fund upwards of $100 billion in smart transportation infrastructure.

Reynolds explains how her agency is taking a leading role in embracing new technologies, drafting new rules to accommodate disruptive demand-response technologies and active transportation. Los Angeles DOT was one of just two cities to participate in the recent California Department of Motor Vehicles hearing on regulating autonomous vehicles. As Reynolds has been proactive, she has also been cautious of the role of new technology, stating: “it’s easy to become hypnotized by new technology and to forget that we don’t care about technology for technology’s sake; we care about it because it gets us to our goals faster. We have to be very disciplined in our recognition that new technologies can be great tools, but they make terrible masters.”

As Reynolds hits her two-year mark atop the agency, she explains that bringing in experts from different fields has led to a more holistic approach, as evidenced by the Urban Mobility plan. She explains that “the power of the plan is that it was written by an architect, Ashley Hand, who has a strong sensibility of the quality of the design of our cities and about public spaces and the public realm, and who cares about solving issues like traffic crashes and the horrible inequity across a lot our cities.” Reynolds also explains that the Urban Mobility plan takes on new issues such as planning for aging as Angelenos increasingly age in place.

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