New report ranks L.A. 4th in U.S. for tech-enabled transit options

The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) released a report today ranking U.S. cities by the amount of technology-enabled transportation services available to their residents. Out of 70 U.S. cities surveyed in the report, Los Angeles ranks fourth — tied with New York City and Boston — and is recognized as a city with “abundant choices.”

Austin, Texas ranks first, followed by San Francisco and Washington D.C. The report, entitled “The Innovative Transportation Index: The Cities Where New Technologies and Tools Can Reduce Your Need to Own a Car” can be viewed here.

The report compares cities based on the availability of eleven tech-based transit services and tools from ridesharing and bikesharing to real-time transit apps and virtual ticketing. According to the study, it’s these types of services that make it easier for Americans — millennials in particular — to use their cars less or not at all.

The results of the study were released this morning during a media event at the Purple Line Wilshire/Western Station. Metro Deputy CEO Lindy Lee highlighted Metro’s contributions to the ranking, including the use of real time arrival data and the Go Metro mobile app. She also mentioned ongoing or upcoming projects that would likely improve L.A.’s standing in a similar future survey, such as the installation of underground WiFi and cellular service and a future pilot bikeshare program in downtown L.A.

CALPIRG’s press release is below:

A new report,

from CALPIRG and Frontier Group ranks American cities on how many new technology-enabled services and tools they have to meet transportation needs. It finds that Los Angeles ranks 4th among the nation’s 70 largest cities.

The report, “The Innovative Transportation Index: The Cities Where New Technologies and Tools Can Reduce Your Need to Own a Car,” compares cities based on the presence of these new technologies, including ride sourcing services like Uber and Lyft, car sharing services like Zipcar, bike share and ride sharing systems, apps for navigating public transit and hailing taxis, and virtual ticket purchasing, among others. It is the first study of its kind.

The research demonstrates how rapid technological advances have enabled new transportation tools that make it convenient for more Americans to live full and engaged lives without owning a car.

“None of these options even existed a few years ago, and the trend is just beginning,” said Diane Forte, CALPIRG Spokesperson. “Technological advances are giving people new and convenient ways to get around more freely without having to own a car.”

“Expanding the availability of shared-use transportation modes and other technology-enabled tools can give more Americans the freedom to live “car-free” or “car-light” lifestyles,” said Jeff Inglis, a policy analyst at Frontier Group and co-author of the report. “Smartphone apps and new transportation services are making it easier for people to get where they need and want to go, while avoiding many costs associated with owning, insuring and maintaining a private vehicle.”

Unlike many other large cities, Los Angeles was recognized for having on-demand ways for drivers to connect with passengers going their same way (like ZimRide). LA has real-time transit tracking apps, but lacks a municipal bike share program at this time or transit agency apps to purchase virtual tickets.

Leading the pack among the 70 cities are Austin, San Francisco and Washington, DC, which each have at least 10 of the 11 high-tech transportation options examined in the report. Los Angeles has 9 of the 11 and was tied for 4th with Boston and New York.

Los Angeles was among the group of 19 top cities with a combined population of 28 million that offer eight or more technology-enabled transportation services and options.  These cities with abundant choices all adopt open-data policies, which have led to the development of multi-modal apps that allow passengers to transition seamlessly through different modes of transportation. For example, switching from transit to bike share for the last mile of a commute.

Other findings from this new study.

  • Individually, these services and tools make a difference. But together, they are more than the sum of their parts. Someone considering riding public transit instead of driving, for instance, will want to know about complementary options for times when riding the bus or train wouldn’t be convenient.
  • The cities in this report all host a variety of services or tools that make it easier for Americans—and Millennials especially—to lead a car-free or car-light lifestyle. Having a suite of options allows people to spontaneously choose the most convenient option for them.
  • There is much that cities can do to encourage more and better use of innovative transportation choices. Just because these services are new shouldn’t stop officials from responsibly integrating them into their plans and policies.

“I’m so proud that the car capital of the world is evolving into a tech-transportation capital. LA’s transportation options have grown at a break-neck speed, on pace with our tech industry, to the benefit of our environment and our economy,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I’m proud of our leadership in transportation and look forward to continuing to serve as a hotbed of tech-enabled transit for decades to come.”

“In addition to the ongoing expansion of our region’s transit system, incorporating technology like mobile applications and real-time arrival information helps Metro attract new riders by making the train or bus an even more convenient and reliable alternative to driving,“ said Lindy Lee, Metro Deputy CEO.

Even when these services provide access to a car, they still make it easier for Americans to reduce their auto dependence because a traveler does not need to pre-commit to long-term costs of ownership, repairs, insurance and parking.

“CALPIRG applauds Los Angeles and the other cities in this report for helping to bring new transportation technology choices,” said Diane Forte, CALPIRG Spokesperson. “These new options will help define city life in the years to come.”

The report calls on policy-makers and elected officials to explore ways to tap the potential of technology-enabled services to address transportation challenges and increase the number of people with the option to live car-free or car-light lifestyles

The new report can be found here


11 replies

  1. YAWN. Wake me up when you guys get to this level:

    For the Youtube generation, we’re not easily fooled when we can just watch what Japan can accomplish in mass transit.

    • I agree with Wrexham & Shropshire’s summary analysis of how the British can learn from Japan at the end of the video. See, even the Brits are capable of learning from others and is open to incorporating some of the ideas used in Japan, such as variable fare structures, an open fare gate that closes only when it needs to be to smooth the flow of human traffic, better signages and investing in train station real estate to procure better financial stability instead of needing government funding.

      Why can’t Metro do the same thing? Is it an American exceptionalism thing?

      • Americans view transit as an inferior good. As your income rises, you consume less of it. Would I love LA Metro to run like transit in Singapore/Japan? Absolutely. But in order to accomplish that feat you need a population socialized to ride transit.

        I don’t want to get into a chicken or the egg argument, but 12% of people commute by private transportation in Tokyo, compared to 78% in Los Angeles. Sure their transit is twice as good as ours, but that does not account for the discrepancy in those numbers. Their city planners and citizens realized that public transportation isn’t about “killing freedom”, it is about getting people where they need to go efficiently.

        As a city (and a nation) we discourage this activity by financially incentivizing sprawl, accommodating these suburbanites with highways, and then wondering why our public transportation can’t reach these people in an affordable and timely manner.

      • “But in order to accomplish that feat you need a population socialized to ride transit.”

        Sorry, I disagree with your world views that people need to be “socialized to ride transit.” Neither Japan, the UK, nor the US are socialist countries whose governments tell people what form of transportation they need to use to get about their lives. And it’s definitely not the government’s business to do so either.

        And even socialists countries themselves are not overzealous with power to enforce people to take what kind of transit they need to take either. Case in point, do you know what the most preferred method to get around in Vietnam and Laos (a socialist country) are? It’s not the car, it’s not public transit, it’s motorcycles and scooters.


      • “Would I love LA Metro to run like transit in Singapore/Japan? Absolutely.”

        By agreeing to that, it goes completely against your username derived from a well-known American socialist-libertarian because Singapore and Japanese mass transit systems are run by corporations fully listed on their stock exchanges and are run for-profit. Do you agree then that LA Metro should stop being a government entity and instead look into privatization, start running for-profit, and IPO on the NYSE? If so, perhaps you should change your name to Ron Paul or Gary Johnson, a more conservative-libertarian.

  2. Transit tech in LA is getting there (NextBus is good, getting Wi-Fi and cell in the subways this year is great!), but it’s got a long ways to go. How about a Windows Phone version of the Metro Mobile app? And how about throwing away the Tap2Go site and starting from scratch; that thing is dreadful! (And once you do figure out how to add cards and add value, why does it take two days to load that stored value onto the card, when the entire transaction takes place on Tap servers?)

  3. For being 4th in the nation with a crappy website, that sorta speaks words how the low the bar is in “tech enabled.”

  4. And Citymapper just released a beta version of their app for LA too! Currently just Metro, LADOT and BBB, but they tell me they’re working on adding more functionality.