How would you improve the Metro customer experience?: HWR, April 24

Only two headlines today, but they’re good ones.

Next stop for L.A. Metro: a committee focusing on what it’s like to be a rider (LAT)

After nearly four years on the job, L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Member Eric Garcetti said during his State of the City speech that he plans to launch a Metro Board committee devoted to customer service issues, something that is not the exclusive domain of the the five other primary Metro Board committees (planning, finance and budget, construction, operations and safety, executive management for those scoring at home or those terminally bored).

Garcetti suggested that Mike Bonin — a Garcetti appointee to the Board and a member of the L.A. City Council — should oversee the committee.

LAT transpo writer Laura Nelson’s story generated a boatload of comments at the LAT site (72 at last count) plus more on her Twitter feed.

Feel free to leave your ideas here! FWIW, we collect comments from the blog and our social media accounts for a weekly report that we send to the top of the Metro Mothership (i.e. the 25th floor, where the execs reside) and to other interested staff. As most of you know, Metro riders, ex-riders, future riders and many others leave comments for us daily here, on Twitter, on Facebook and on Instagram.

No longer a dream: Silicon Valley takes on the flying car (NYT)

Key graphs:

The approaches by the different companies vary and the realization of their competing visions seems far in the future, but they have one thing in common: a belief that one day regular people should be able to fly their own vehicles around town.

There are challenges, no doubt, with both the technology and government regulations. Perhaps the biggest hurdle will be convincing the public that the whole idea isn’t crazy.

Hey call me crazycakes, but I don’t think it’s crazy. Not as crazy as the idea of everyone ditching their car for shared self-driving cars or self-driving cars fixing traffic. In fact, after watching the above video, I think I want a flying car.

Oh those challenges:

•Assuming we don’t want these things flying over homes, I’m not sure how they fix traffic.

•I expect the tire chain lobby to come out big against these things.

•I’m pretty sure I don’t want them flying above 15 feet in the national parks — and I want them prohibited from wilderness areas.

•I want mine to have a kayak carrier underneath, so I can drop it directly into the water instead of carry my 53-pound boat across the parking lot.

Will they fix traffic? Depends on what you mean by ‘fix.’ I also predict some pretty gnarly accidents unless everyone follows the rules of the road/skies. And we know how good people are about that.


Legislation Update: the state bill that would have prohibited the freeway tunnel alternative from being built for the 710 North project — i.e. the tunnel to close the gap in the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena — died in a State Assembly committee last week. Not enough committee members voted for the bill to survive. As for the project, the project’s draft environmental study is due to be released this year and will look at five options: no build, traffic signal/intersection improvements, the freeway tunnel, light rail and bus rapid transit. Here’s the project home page with lots more info.

Heads up: I thought the following event sounded interesting and it’s easy to reach on the 757 Rapid Bus, which runs north-south on Western Avenue between Hollywood Boulevard and Imperial Highway.

West Santa Branch Corridor: Metro is in the early stages of studying the project to build light rail between Union Station and Artesia, as we posted last week. There are several route options for getting into downtown L.A. and Union Station. I love that so many people are engaged on this already — see the comments on the Source and on our Facebook page. To my eye, it looks like there’s a lot of support thus far for either the Alameda or Alameda/Vignes options, both which rely on the Blue Line to help ferry riders into the heart of DTLA.



Dept. of Earth Day Messaging:

It was nice to see the park open to the public — and it’s just as nice that it’s so ridiculously transit friendly. A couple of pics:

Art of Future Bicycle Infrastructure: 

Anna and I had the chance to spend the morning Friday with Metro’s Bike staff (above), who showed us some of the many challenges involved with closing the gap between the gap in the L.A. River Bike Path between the Elysian Valley and Maywood/Vernon. More about this very important project soon! Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.



14 replies

  1. Also, since everyone has to pay now for parking, it seems like the cap on monthly permits should be raised. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d much rather just pay once a month and be done with it. And Metro would save money on processing credit card transactions, I’m sure.

    • They have been providing info, etc. — we were waiting for the Google Play store to post the app. Now that it’s there, I’ll add to the post. Thanks for sending over!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. And another thing, be truthful about stuff. Parking is $3 if you use the machine but $3.15 if you use the app. You think quibbling over 15 cents a day (or 75 cents a week) or $39 a year (a high estimate – 5 x .15 x 52) is silly, but it just exposes the disdain you have for us… it’s inconsistent, stupid and slightly dishonest. You should just eat that cost for the lack of wear and tear on the physical machines and the extra money you’ll make from people extending their parking to multiple days. Speaking of, allowing for multiple day extension smells a lot like “let’s make money off people” and a lot less like “let’s kick out the non-transit parkers”

    (And where are the supposed license plate readers? They’re either imaginary or well-hidden or not fixed at parking lot entrances.)

    • The license plate readers are there and work, according to the parking team. We’ve updated the blog post to add the 15 cent fee for using the app — which we did not know about when we first wrote this. There is a chance to decline for those who don’t want to pay the fee and use the machine instead.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. This morning at 7MC was a good example of where improvement could be made. I’d just been underground on the Red for 25 minutes, so when I got to the Blue/Expo platform at 7MC, I had no idea that there was a problem. Maybe some announcements on Red? The departure time estimates weren’t displaying, instead declaring a “major mechanical issue” Before too long, a train pulled up. The outside signs read “Metro” and the inside TV screens were blank. I figured I’d ride out of 7MC and maybe at some point I’d figure out what train I was on. We got to Pico and held and when we got to the wye, I breathed a sigh of relief when it went straight. On Twitter there was mention of busses being ordered and trains being turned around at stations. At LATTC there was an announcement outside the train, but it wasn’t clear, and it wasn’t repeated. We waited there awhile listening to Metro employees trying to figure out what was what. There was an announcement inside the car, but it didn’t offer any real information.

    And then we were off and it was a normal day on the Expo. So the “major” issue actually wasn’t (or my timing was good), but really, in this day and age of information accessibility, I feel like you guys starve us. We (sometimes this includes the drivers) don’t get information about what’s happening, and when we get information, it’s not *usable* information.

    If I might be so bold, I think all announcements should follow this pattern, with the announcer speaking clearly and slowly to overcome poor audio equipment, other noises and to assist those who aren’t native English speakers.

    1. A brief explanation of the problem in whatever terms you want to share. (Inform)
    2. Specific instructions (if you are traveling to …., then you should be prepared to…) – make it relatable/actionable
    3. Go back to step 1 and repeat the entire message a second time

    That last step is important – if the entire message is repeated twice, it gives people who have headphones on to hear the entire message, and it gives people who heard part of the message to hear it again and fill in the gaps. (Like when you leave a voicemail and you repeat your phone number.)

    Don’t starve us for information.

  4. You want riders? You want to have more passes purchased? Simple, put security in every car and have then enforce the rules. I use expo, and I guarantee that 58% of people that gave up riding was due to loud music, seat hoarding and disrespect that some animals (I refuse to call these animals people) do day in and out. These are also some of the people that don’t pay for their fare. I see that at least 30% of riders don’t pay, specially since there are no officers checking the cars and most stations. On expo, only downtown and Santa Monica stations have officers checking from time to time, but these people know, so they can go anywhere except for those 2 stations without any problems. A little secret for readers, if you go downtown LA, don’t pay your fare, if there are officers checking, they only do before the exit to Olive at. If you want to go to red line, or exit anywhere else, you don’t have to pay. I pay, because I’m stupid, but I could go day in and out, for a year, without doing so.

    It is so lame. The situation is so bad, that soon I’ll drive again. I sorry for the other lines, which are probably just as bad or worse than expo.

  5. With Regards To flying vehicles:
    Energy and physics! The vehicle being shown has no wind fairing. To travel at any sort of freeway speeds a fairing will greatly reduce drag. The trade-off is the energy needed to lift the fairing. S/VTOL is an energy hog and not well suited to transition to winged flight. It is wise to google “Moller Skycar”.

  6. A huge issue is scheduling track maintenance, which necessarily involves reducing service to every 20 minutes, not only during busy service hours but at a seemingly constant rate. Recently it’s seemed that if it isn’t one line being worked on, it’s another. Basically, there will always be some area that’s a pain in the butt to get to at any one time because the line that serves it is under maintennence. Even if this is an exaggerattion, the level of service disruptions due to maintennence is far too high regardless.

    This relates to another issue- regular scheduled frequency. The train scheduling on all lines seemingly fails to account for the varied travel patterns of Los Angeles residents and has a clear bias towards the 9 to 5 downtown travel market. This results in situations like red line trains being more packed at midday on a Saturday than non-peak direction trains at rush hour on weekdays. There’s a clear imbalance. At the very least, without a meticulous overhaul of the rail schedules, a simple baseline of constant frequent service should be established for all lines (10 minute frequency being the bare minimum that could be considered frequent in a practical sense).

  7. Build and enforce dedicated bus lanes. This will do so much to improve speed and reliability.

  8. Please consider giving and providing the same attention to detail regarding cleanliness to the Blue Line, as it appears you do to the Red, Expo, and Purple Lines.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Big difference between Expo and Red as far as cleanliness. I have high hopes for the new deodorizers they’re introducing.

  9. As a.relatively new rider and Los Angeleno (June) I feel like you treat your customers with a little bit of disdain and that you make decisions without really putting yourself in the shoes of someone who is new to the system. I could drive – I can actually get there faster in the morning by car – it’s the evenings that the train wins.

    It’s ironic that you’d choose today to ask this question considering your really underwhelming implementation of paid parking today. When the comments suggested there was a lot of unanswered questions, you should have acknowledged that and planned a follow-up blog post for last Thursday. The website still lists free parking at the stations and there’s no app and the machines themselves at NoHo are not even situated in the walking path of someone approaching the portal from the daily (formerly free) section of the lot. Fortunately, that’s not a fatal error, hopefully you’ll move them and spread them out.

    Having two lines out of 7MC with a blue color confuses many, especially those with limited English and tourists. (I used to live here. I remember the guerilla art signs advertising the Aqua line. I love that nod to history. But it’s still confusing.).

    Speaking of 7MC, wayfinding on platform 3 (I assume that’s its designation) is really poor – from most of the platform, signage to platforms 1 and 2 are hidden.

    And then just general friendliness. Some drivers nail it. Others… could use some coaching. Your drivers (and hired and contracted security) are your front-line customer service day in and day out, your ambassadors. I would say to act more like an airline but lately they’ve not been such great examples. But your front-line representatives should be able to provide excellent customer service in the line of duty. If they can’t, maybe it’s not just CS but also HR that you need to look at.

    You’re not doing a bad job, but you could aspire to do better.

  10. The key to increasing rail ridership is decreasing travel time; no one wants to ride a slow train that stops at red lights (and maintenance yards!). Metro needs to commit to full signal preemption on the expo, gold, and blue lines asap (and longer term, more grade separation). I often drive Downtown instead of taking Expo because I find sitting at red lights from Western to Pico so frustrating. If Metro doesn’t prioritize public transit, how can it expect Angelenos to?