Metro’s Board of Directors Thursday extended its MicroTransit Pilot Program on-demand rideshare service through September 2024 for numerous zones in L.A. County including Altadena/Pasadena/Sierra Madre.
The Board also instructed that a study be done to determine whether the program should be continued for an additional six months, or if necessary, discontinue some of the eight zones the program serves.
The board voted 12-0 with director and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger absent during the vote. Directors Ara Najarian, James Butts, Fernando Durta, Janice Hahn and Barger introduced the motion to possibly consider a new operational business model and improve the overall performance of its micro transit program, also known as Metro Micro.
Metro Micro is an on-demand rideshare service, offering trips within several zones in L.A. County, including Watts/Compton; LAX/Inglewood; El Monte; North Hollywood/Burbank; Highland Park/Eagle Rock/Glendale; Altadena/Pasadena/Sierra Madre; Northwest San Fernando Valley; and UCLA/Westwood/VA Medical Center.
The service can be used for short local trips and uses small vehicles seating up to 10 passengers.
The cost to extend Metro Micro through September 2024 will cost approximately $14.1 million, which would increase the total contract from $43.2 million to $57.3 million.
Several directors said it was important for the agency to extend the program because it serves many seniors and people with disabilities. They also emphasized the need to understand how to improve the program, as well as manage the operational costs because of the financial shortcomings in the near future.
Metro will look to increase marketing efforts to bring more customers onboard its Metro Micro.
Currently, it costs $1 to use Metro Micro, however, the board is considering raising it to $2.50. Prior to that commitment, staff will report back on the feasibility of incorporating existing discount programs, including Low Income Faire is Easy, GoPass and senior discounts.
Director and county Supervisor Lindsey Horvath introduced two friendly amendments to the motion.
She requested that Metro staff report back at six-month intervals to monitor progress especially in advance of a potential six-month extension next year. Additionally, Horvath requested staff to study the feasibility of charging $1.75 as well, noting that it’s the standard price for some of Metro’s services and would be easier on riders.
If the agency were to discontinue service at any of its eight zones, the agency would look to introduce routes or other services to mitigate the impacts on riders and the community.
In 2018, Metro’s Board of Directors contracted with three firms for its Metro Micro program to complete the “planning and design” phase. In 2020, Metro approved a three-year contract with RideCo to conduct the second phase, or the “implementation and evaluation” of the program.
The motion instructs Metro staff to return by June 2024 with recommendations of which eight zones should be discontinued or curtailed, and to request the additional six-month extension.
Staff will conduct a thorough analysis of all zones using data driven metrics, such as demographics,