Will the LA Metro Board Please Pull the Plug on the Wasteful MicroTransit Pilot?

  • Date: 09/14/2023

Below are some reasons that Metro Micro is awful:

Cost: Microtransit's cost to Metro is alarming. The Times says rides cost Metro $43 each. As of March 2023 it was $63. In the past, per-ride subsidies have ranged from $30 to $60. Compare that to ~$8 for a low-performing bus route.

Fare: Metro continues to charge $1 per ride for premium Metro Micro service, which is way less than the $1.75 that Metro charges for bus and rail rides. The $1 ride cost was approved as a temporary promotional rate, but Metro quietly shelved the approved $2.50 rate and extended the cheaper-than-the-bus rate indefinitely.

Equity: Micro Metro tried to advance equity, but failed. Metro appropriately targeted some service areas in working class communities of color. But Metro's data shows that, overall, the pilot is not serving underserved populations.

Metro's published demographics data shows that Metro Micro is being utilized by a population that is whiter than Metro's transit ridership. Metro Micro riders are forty percent Latino, compared to 58 percent of overall Metro transit ridership. Ten percent of Metro Micro riders are Black, compared with 14 percent on bus/rail. White folks comprise twelve percent of Metro transit riders, but are 28 percent of MicroTransit riders.

Customer satisfaction: Metro notes various kinds of customer satisfaction indicators, from repeatedly touting "High customer experience ratings (averaging 4.8 out of 5 stars for those who ride)" to "About 98 percent of Metro Micro customers rated the vehicle seats as comfortable, but only 59 percent of Metro bus customers view bus seats as comfortable."

But Metro also reports that for about a third of rides requested (31-36 percent for most recent year of data shown) there were "no rides available." So, a third of customers don't get a ride and therefore don't get to provide input. The rider satisfaction data appears rosy because it only counts the two-thirds of riders who actually got to ride.

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