Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Announces Great Streets Initiative

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At the Urban Land Institute’s Transit Oriented Los Angeles Summit on October 10, 2013, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his first initiative as Mayor: The Great Streets Initiative.

It was during this speech that I realized, the Mayor is a straight-up Planner! Great news in my book. Enjoy (most of) the speech here. Technical imperfections lost a couple minutes but you’ll get the idea. Introduced by David Waite, Chair of ULI LA.

2012 Ridership visualized!

Riding is beautiful!

These maps show average weekday ridership numbers from fiscal year 2012 (that’s July 2011 through June 2012).

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The first bubble map shows where Metro Rail passengers are boarding trains that are headed into downtown Los Angeles, the county’s number one job center.

The second bubble map shows where passengers are exiting Metro Rail from those same trains headed downtown. As would be expected, most are traveling to a destination downtown. But not all of them! There also seems to be many people taking the Green Line to Norwalk, the Red Line to Hollywood and the Gold Line to East Los Angeles, home to both East Los Angeles College and the East L.A. Civic Center.

It’s interesting to see the most popular stations as people flow through:

•The Red Line has an impressive number of people that travel from the Valley to Hollywood and do not go all the way downtown.

•The Blue Line ridership is more evenly distributed over several stops than I would expect. Not everyone is traveling all the way to downtown Los Angeles from Long Beach.

•Gold Line passengers enter from farther out stations in Highland Park and Pasadena and the first few stations just outside of downtown do not collect as many passengers.

•Expo Line numbers were not available for the same time period because the line opened at the tail end of that fiscal year. It will be interesting to see how ridership patterns change as the system expands!

Do these patterns surprise you? Tell us what you think!

As a reference point, here are the average daily boardings (weekdays) at the line level for the same time period.

Fiscal Year 2012 (July 2011-June 2012) –Average Daily Boardings

Red Line  113,395

Purple Line  38,396

Green Line  43,402

Gold Line  41,078

Blue Line  82,212


Metro Research Quick Poll: Do you TAP on the bus? Plus, recent poll results!

Gate latching is upon us!

Whether you love it or you hate it, we’re curious if gate latching is expanding the reach of TAP cards to bus rides.  Answer this quick poll, and view the results to see how other readers and patrons are using TAP cards on the bus.

For results from our last poll, continue reading.

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Metro survey results of those who rent bike lockers

The Metro Bike team together with Metro Research just completed an online survey of their current bike locker holders. The online survey collected data on several satisfaction indicators as well as trip type, distance, and demographics. Satisfaction feedback will help the bike team improve service, and trip data helps us see how the lockers are being used. Jeff Boberg, head of Metro Research, comments on the trip data: “I really think this is a great aspect that doesn’t always get enough attention: if we care about reducing congestion and cleaner air, we should be looking for cost effective alternatives for lowering car trips without decreasing mobility, and the bike locker program is very cost effective.”

Read on for the key findings!

The bike lockers scored well on all the key indicators, especially price and safety.

Percentage of Locker Holders Satisfied by Issuesatisfaction

Almost all of locker holders claim they would not use a rack if the lockers were not available.

If there were no lockers, would you use a rack?       Graphs for jpeg export

 Trip Type        Trip type

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Science + Art = A beautiful way to learn

Artists and Nerds (respectfully and fondly) united last week at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's “From Data to Discovery” conference on the Caltech campus in Pasadena. The one day event hosted by JPL, the Arts Center and Caltech focused on using visualizations to communicate complex topics. Such visualizations are a great way to engage the uninitiated!

The speaker list of big data divas included Jeff Heer, of Stanford, who showed off innovative data visualization platforms such as D3: Data-Driven Documents, which is a robust javascript tool kit for creating data visualizations, and Data Wrangler, which appears to be nothing short of a life saver for anyone who has to clean data sets. Dr. Heer also recommended that anyone interested in data visualization should look online for his class at Stanford called CS448b.

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Visualization of migration from California 1995-2000 by Stanford InfoViz

Jeff Thor, a self-described data artist and co-founder of The Office for Creative Research discussed his “Ooooo-Ahhhh” philosophy. He stressed that a successful visual not only draws audiences in with interesting visuals (Ooooo), but then makes you think with the data that it represents (Ahhhhh). He showed one of his early projects, a visualization called Just Landed, which represents tweets where people have written “just landed” and ties them to where they are from (according to their profiles). It’s a very cool effect.

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Still from Jeff Thor's Just Landed

Attending the conference is giving metro ideas on how they might share some of the robust data within the agency. New ways to explain complex transportation issues are always helpful. Any reader requests for data visualizations? We may not have the time or the skills to fill your requests, but you can help us brainstorm!

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Jacarandas in bloom around Beckman Auditorium

The conference was hosted at the Beckman Auditorium, a beautiful mid-century modern design, (1964 Edward Durrell Stone), currently surrounded by beautiful blooming jacaranda trees. I recommend a visit before the flowers wither. The campus is accessible from several bus lines, including the Pasadena ARTS 10 bus, Metro's 177 bus or the Gold Line Lake Avenue station to the 485 bus headed south. Exit at California Avenue and walk two blocks east to reach campus.

Data nerds rejoice! More metro data now available.

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Metro Research launched a new web page on metro.net today. Click here to check it out!

On the new page you can take a quick poll about Metro’s services, sign up for Metro research opportunities and find links to transportation data resources. The page will also be a hub for sharing research data and reports inside and outside the agency.

In addition, results from 10 years of the annual customer satisfaction survey as well as several other surveys and focus groups are available for your perusal.

Survey shows what patrons most want from an improved Union Station

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A word cloud of write-in answers to the most desired amenities.

In a recent survey, Metro recently asked patrons what they would like to see in an improved Union Station. Among the upgrades requested:

  • Easier access to surrounding neighborhoods
  • Better connections between transportation services
  • More options for dining and shopping
  • Enhanced passenger information & help guides
  • Additional or improved signage
  • Better bicycle access and parking
  • Additional transportation options

Metro Research & Development worked with the Union Station Master Plan team to conduct the survey of Union Station visitors. The survey collected data on how people are currently using the station, as well as which new amenities are most desired in and around the new station. Metro purchased Union Station in 2011 and the Master Plan will create a blueprint on how to upgrade the station and develop the areas around it while, of course, preserving the famous structure.

The survey was conducted online from January 28 to February 6 and with paper surveys that were distributed in and around Union Station on Jan. 31. All told, 329 paper surveys and 1,735 online surveys were collected.

When looking at the results, keep in mind that web respondents tended to be less frequent users of the station (not regular-commuters), while paper survey respondents were more likely to use the station on a daily or weekly basis (regular commuters).

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We asked patrons how they arrived at Union Station and how they left to reach their destination. Online survey respondents were more likely to be Metro Rail riders, and less likely to walk, bike or take Amtrak or Metrolink.

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Presently, most people who frequently use Union Station are currently doing so only for transportation. However, others are also taking advantage of shopping, dining and recreational activities. A third of users are coming to the station for recreation and entertainment, and a quarter are using it for dining and shopping.

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Out of 12 suggested improvements, seven stood out as being more desired than the others:

  • Easier access to surrounding neighborhoods
  • Better connections between transportation services
  • More options for dining and shopping
  • Enhanced passenger information & help guides
  • Additional or improved signage
  • Better bicycle access and parking
  • Additional transportation options

The other suggested improvements were:

  • More space to circulate through the station
  • More public art and activities on station property
  • More waiting areas and seating
  • Increased security
  • Additional parking (tip: there is usually space on level four of the parking garage).

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More graphics after the jump — keep reading please! 

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Focus group says that these redesigned screens on Metro ticket machines are a big step in right direction; what do you think?

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What do you think? Are we on the right track with these new screen designs?

A focus group on Tuesday — the third focus group so far — indicated that ticket vending machine redesigns by Metro’s Creative Services Staff are headed in the right direction.

All of the participants were impressed with the new designs and provided helpful feedback to further refine the screens. They assured Metro that the new screens were a vast improvement over the existing screens and were “very clear and self-explanatory.”  Another participant noted, “I don’t have to concentrate and look for the options. They are very clearly organized.”

One new addition is a more prominent selection screen with 10 different languages, which will make purchases easier for limited-English customers and tourists from abroad. Other improvements include more understandable terminology and less jargon, simpler screens with fewer options and more intuitive selections and more explanations of options — which hopefully will mean less pushing of the ‘help’ button for customers.

The new screens will help all riders purchase and reload TAP cards more quickly and easily, a big help to both rail and bus riders. Bus riders are now using TAP cards more than ever before. Preliminary results from the most recent bus survey conducted by Metro Research show that about seven in 10 bus riders are now using TAP cards to pay for their fares. This is up from about five in 10 in the previous quarter.

What do you think? If you’re leaving a comment, please be as specific as possible about what you like or don’t like or any suggestions that you may have.

New customer survey: what do you want in a bus headway sign?

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Metro manages a fleet with 2,228 buses that averages more than one million weekday boardings. Our buses traveled over 70 million miles in 2012!

It is a big job to make sure everyone knows where all of these buses are headed. We could use your help ensuring that we communicate our bus destinations as clearly as possible.

Just click on the link below to take a short survey about bus headsigns. You could be one of five winners of a monthly TAP card! (You will have to fill out contact information to be eligible for the contest.)

Survey Link

Photo: Metro.

Photo: Metro.

Metro to redesign screen options on TAP card vending machines with feedback from focus groups

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Metro recently eliminated paper tickets in favor of TAP cards – the reusable card stores passes and money. This cuts down on waste and makes buying and validating tickets easier. It will also be necessary for entering the turnstiles at all Metro Rail Stations, which are scheduled to be latched later this year.

As part of this process, Metro is updating the software on its TAP vending machines (TVMs) to make it easier for customers to purchase and reload TAP cards.

Recent focus groups of infrequent rail riders were conducted by Metro Research for the TAP group in both English and Spanish. The participants found that the current TVMs are difficult to use for first-time Metro riders (think tourists and event-goers as well as new riders). Participants said that the initial screen had too many options and was confusing.  They also said it was not clear how much the fare cost and that a reduced fare for seniors and disabled riders was actually offered on the machines. They also said it wasn’t clear when they could travel at a reduced rate.

TAP instructional posters posted in direct proximity to the TVMs appeared to make no difference as focus group participants said they were solely focused on the machine and the transaction.

The focus groups also previewed a couple of alternatives for a redesigned TVM screen.  The mock-ups were designed by the award-winning Metro Creative Services staff.  The focus groups saw the new design flow as less confusing, more intuitive and more user-friendly than the current screens. Follow-up focus groups will interact with the new software once it is loaded onto test TVMs at Metro headquarters.

What do you like or dislike about our current ticket vending machines? What would you like to see changed about them?