L.A. Explores On-Demand Public Transit - Next City

Several weeks after the on-demand bus service Bridj announced a relaunch in Sydney, Australia, Los Angeles Metro has made public its intentions to kick off a similar program.

The agency is looking for a “friend” to help build an on-demand transit program to supplement its fixed services, Wired’s Aarian Marshall reports, clarifying that by “friend” the agency of course means “private company.” Last week, Metro reportedly issued an RFP, and Marshall speculates that potential partners could include Uber, Lyft, Ford’s Chariot or New York’s Via.

The “MicroTransit” service, as Metro has taken to calling it, will be very similar to the Bridj program, which operated in Boston, Washington, D.C., and, briefly, Kanas City before shutting down earlier this year. According to Metro’s website, it will be “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 will be available on-demand, and although it will likely be costlier than a traditional bus, the agency hopes it will be cheaper than calling an Uber or Lyft.

“Our hypothesis is that incorporating a service like MicroTransit into our wheelhouse could benefit our customers and support our broader mission to improve mobility in Los Angeles County,” the agency states on its website.

In Los Angeles, the time is right for experimentation. Bus ridership is steadily declining, and in response, the agency launched a multi-year study to help it more effectively overhaul its bus routes earlier this year.

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