New Metro Board committee focuses on the customer experience

I’m well aware that audio of government meetings holds limited appeal to Normal People. That said, I think most of us would agree that it’s welcome news that the Metro Board’s new Customer Experience Committee held its first meeting on Thursday.

“We have to start thinking customers first. We have extraordinary staff and great people who have been focused on customers for a long time,” said L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti in introducing the committee. “Frankly, those of us who lead the Board have not explicitly looked at that as an area for us to delve deep into.”

Garcetti, too, said that he hoped that the Committee would help find ways to continue making the Metro experience safer, more predictable and more enjoyable. “I think we can make Los Angeles the best place in the country to ride public transportation,” he said. “I know that’s not the reputation we have right now.”

“I want to acknowledge the timing of doing this and having a committee like this trying to re-shift the focus more deliberately and more specifically on improving the customer experience is probably something that should have been done a very, very long time ago,” said Los Angeles Council Member Mike Bonin, who is also a Metro Board Member and who will chair the committee. “But it’s a particularly appropriate time to be doing it now that voters have just approved Measure M and we have a huge opportunity to invest in expanding the system – -and this committee can help us do that thoughtfully.”

The committee is also unique in another way: five of its seven members are not elected officials — rather, they are members of the public who have dealt with transportation and other related issues.

All this is a long way of saying this is certainly a committee I’ll be watching closely as The Source — along with Metro’s Twitter and Facebook streams — are a place where many riders post about their experiences with the system.

As for the first meeting, you can listen to it above. Below is the agenda, with links to Metro staff reports.

I think that the presentation on bus system speeds and on-time performance is probably of the most interest to readers/riders here — and the committee voted to ask Metro staff to perform a study on new ways to speed up buses.

The charts tell the story: traffic congestion in our region is on the increase, which correlates with a decrease in bus speeds. Some of the reasons why are discussed. There’s also a somewhat spirited conversation about the city of Los Angeles’ Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic deaths and the impacts/nonimpacts of traffic calming on bus speeds.

Mike Bonin made his views clear:  “If you have a greater chance than you would in other places of getting severely injured or killed on the way to the bus, that has a fundamental impact on whether or not you are willing to use the service in the first place,” he said.

Click on the dot at far right in the audio above (item 41) to hear the discussion.



11 replies

  1. Having two members who are elected are fine as they can help drive policy and decision making, but I think having “actual” customers who ride Metro bus and trains will give a front line perspective to improve the customer riding experience. Picking across the service area will go a long way in making that happen.

  2. About two years ago Metro installed screens at the 105 Green Line Station’s freeway level. I assume this is to let riders know how long they have to wait for buses to arrive. WHEN is Metro going to flip the switch and activate them? This is utterly ridiculous. How much money did Metro spend and not complete such a straight forward function?

    • Great question! Similar issue happens at 7th/Metro. Metro installed new monitors around five years ago when the Expo Line opened to show whether the next train would serve the Blue Line or the Expo Line. The information on those monitors is absolutely worthless, especially during rush hours! As a result, passengers for both lines crowd the platform waiting for the next train and hoping it will serve their route. If the signage worked properly, passengers for the other route could stand back and not get in the way of the other passengers.

    • Good point. Some of the biggest ridership collapses have occurred in Southeast Los Angeles County and the South Bay. You have routes like the 611 and 612 which ran every 20-30 minutes during peak at one point now running every hour and barely sustainable.

  3. The buses are too cold. They are uncomfortably cold especially when it’s 85 or 90 degrees out and we are not carrying coats or even sweaters and oftentimes we’re sweating and we get on a bus that feels like 60 degrees and it is uncomfortable. Could you please, please make the temperature a comfortable 75 degrees so there isn’t such a shock to our body?

    When we get on the bus we’re often sweating and cold air is blowing on our neck and that can’t be healthy.

    Some drivers will turn down the AC but some won’t and that’s infuriating and unkind in addition to being uncomfortable. I see people putting on their sweaters and jackets all the time but not everyone carries one so please look into this.

  4. I would be very pleased to see a way to directly connect with this committee through all forms of communication but more importantly (in my opinion) a way to report issues, blights and inconveniences on an app in the way one can report a pot hole on an app to get it fixed. obviously there will be a lot of unimportant issues reported but this may also help crowdsource the major issues throughout the system. just saying

  5. A customer experience committee comprised of people who never ride Metro? How brilliant!

  6. Steve,

    A few articles covering the meeting mentioned sending feedback to the committee via, but when I tried to do so, the email bounced. Could you clarify if such an email address exists, and if so, what it is? Thanks!

    • Hey Connor —

      Waiting to get an answer but I tried testing that address from both my work and gmail and it didn’t bounce back.

      We will also be sending the committee a weekly roundup of customer comments that we compile from the blog and Metro’s social media streams. So you can go that route or try the email again.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source