Metro to release MicroTransit RFP today

One of the agency’s most intriguing projects — Metro MicroTransit — takes a nice step forward today when at 2 p.m. Pacific time, Metro releases its Request for Proposals (RFP) for the pilot program on our Vendor Portal.

MicroTransit is basically a small vehicle that you can order (like you would a Lyft or Uber) that is not tied to a fixed route or even a fixed schedule. It is on-demand, when you want it, where you want it. Here’s a recent Source FAQ that covers the project’s basics.

Some background: Every year, more new mobility technologies and services are hitting the market, from trip planning apps to new mobile payment options and on-demand transportation services. With people in increasing numbers using these tools to make getting around town easier, more affordable and more sustainable, transit agencies must figure out how to get on board — or they’ll fall behind.

Our MicroTransit pilot program seeks to answer these questions: Does on-demand transportation have a place in a public transit agency’s service options? If so, what does that service look like? And what are the factors that will make it both attractive to riders and financially sustainable for Metro?

A few other folks with some experience in innovation and technology are pretty interested in this question as well! Even the L.A. Times’ editorial board said the Metro MicroTransit project was a “worthy experiment.”

We actually think that even the RFP itself is pretty innovative (if government procurement is the kind of thing that blows your hair back). Rather than trying to design the project ourselves and then seeking an operator, we’re harnessing the best thinking of the private sector firms whose insights will be incorporated directly into the project design. That same firm will help to run the pilot and refine it over time.

Metro will be an equal partner in the project to ensure that it stays laser focused on meeting Metro’s public policy goals (convenient, affordable, accessible and equitable transit) and integrates with Metro’s current rail and bus system,  which is seeing record levels of new investment and expansion thanks to Measures R and Measure M.

We’re excited to get to work on this new initiative. You can keep up with updates on the project on our website at http://www.metro.net/microtransit. We certainly don’t think we have all the answers, but we’re pretty sure we’re asking the right questions.

4 replies

  1. It doesn’t make much sense for Metro to compete against Lyft and Uber. Both these companies, and their smaller competitors, are funded by billions in venture capital, which they are burning through at an alarming rate in order to keep prices low for customers.

    But it might make sense for Metro to integrate transit and taxis in an app. Many transit agencies already allow you to buy a ticket via smarphone (eg Portland Trimet). Lyft could help Metro build a new app that would allow you to hire a car to the nearest bus top or train station, pay for your ticket and get a transfer, and then get you another car at the second end of the trip. It could provide that “last-mile” connection in suburban areas without bus service. Lyft (for example) would benefit by getting more riders, and Metro could serve low-density areas better.

    And it would also take away the need for Lyft or Uber to make their own duplicative transit services along busy streets.