Metro Seeking Input on its MicroTransit Pilot Fares

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This post first appeared at Streetsblog Los Angeles.

Metro is considering making some minor changes to its costly inefficient MicroTransit pilot, called Metro Micro. The agency is receiving public input via email and at several meetings this month – see meeting details below.

Metro spends more than $31 million per year to provide fewer than 2,400 Metro Micro rides per day. [See ridership information on Metro September 2023 spreadsheet and July 2023 program evaluation which found a “12-month weekday average across the system is about 2,000.”] Yes, you read that right – countywide (eight service zones) Metro spends more than thirty million dollars each year for MicroTransit that barely musters a couple thousand riders a day.

Metro Micro rides are heavily subsidized; each ride costs Metro $40+ dollars. (Compare this to about $3-$8 for Metro per-ride subsidy for bus rides.) Heavy MicroTransit subsidies take away from bus operations which serve working class people of color to instead pay for a whiter, younger and more affluent Metro Micro ridership.

Metro faces a stark choice. For a given $40 Metro has, the agency can provide one Metro Micro ride – statistically likely being for a white person in a well-off neighborhood – or instead provide 5-10 bus rides – primarily for people of color living in denser neighborhoods.

If Metro wants to grow transit ridership, advance equity, improve health, and help the climate, it should cancel Micro Micro.

Unfortunately, right now Metro is not seeking input regarding actually canceling Metro Micro.

Some discussion at board meetings has suggested the program might end service in low-performing, relatively well-off service areas (mainly the Northwest San Fernando Valley at 207 riders/day and Westwood at 115 riders/day [figures per June 2023 Metro spreadsheet]) to instead focus premium Metro Micro service for communities of color (what Metro terms “equity focus communities”). But focusing or trimming MicroTransit service isn’t on the table either right now. That discussion is expected in June 2024, in response to a board motion.

Metro is only looking to implement changes to Metro Micro fares.

In 2020, the Metro board approved a Metro Micro fare structure: initial temporary promotional $1 rate, to last six months for each Metro Micro area, after which fares were set at $2.50. Metro quietly extended the $1 rate indefinitely, and even promotes it to Metro’s actual transit riders who are paying $1.75 per ride.

Now Metro says that it needs to hold public input sessions before charging the $2.50 rate approved in 2020.

Interested folks can give Metro feedback on proposed Metro Micro changes either via email (servicecouncils@metro.net) or at various Service Council meetings this month:

  • Wednesday 1/3 – TONIGHT at San Fernando Valley Service Council meeting, 6:30 p.m. at the Marvin Braude San Fernando Valley Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard
  • Monday 1/8 – San Gabriel Valley Service Council meeting, 5 p.m. at El Monte Transit Center, Metro Division 9 Building, Third Floor Service Council Conference Room, 3449 Santa Anita Avenue in El Monte
  • Wednesday 1/10 – Westside/Central Service Council meeting, 6 p.m. at Metro Headquarters, 1 Gateway Plaza, 3rd Floor Board Room, behind Union Station in downtown Los Angeles
  • Thursday 1/11 – Gateway Cities Service Council meeting, 5 p.m. at Salt Lake Park Community Center Lounge, 3401 E. Florence Avenue in Huntington Park
  • Friday 1/12 – South Bay Cities Service Council meeting, 9:30 am at Residence Inn Conference Room, 2420 Marine Avenue in Redondo Beach

Find additional meeting and MicroTransit fare proposal details at Metro’s The Source blog. For detailed critiques of Metro Micro, see SBLA coverage from last September and last March.

Joe Linton
Joe Lintonhttp://la.streetsblog.org
Joe Linton is editor of Los Angeles Streetsblog. He is also a longtime urban environmental activist. His main areas of interest have been restoring the Los Angeles River and fostering bicycling for everyday transportation. He’s worked for many Los Angeles livability non-profits, including Friends of the L.A. River, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, C.I.C.L.E., Livable Places, and CicLAvia. He also served as deputy to Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes.

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