Notorious for its massive traffic jams and the heavily private-vehicle focused mobility culture, Los Angeles, California seeks to change its reputation by enticing residents to switch over from their emissions-heavy private vehicles to shared mobility solutions. Following a successful ballot measure in 2016 which will dedicate $120 billion from county taxes for the development of the city’s transportation system, the city is now planning a new solution to bridge the “last mile” gap between homes and public transportation. The solution, dubbed MicroTransit, follows the model developed in Helsinki’s Kutsuplus, launched in 2012 by Split, then Ajelo, and shuttered a few years later.

The service would utilize smaller vehicles, vans rather than buses, to transport riders based on a demand-responsive algorithm akin to those found in ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft. As such, the city is actively seeking the collaboration of these companies in ensuring that Los Angeles’s system, planned to be considerably larger than any previous similar efforts, and will give design of the system over to the company, encouraging their creativity and commitment by allowing them the flexibility to modify the system to suit the demands of such a service.

This company-driven approach reflects an understanding of the development needs in today’s public-private collaborations. Cities and public-sector operators must be willing to allow a certain level of autonomy for the corporate parties they depend no in realizing these solutions, while companies must see the benefit of such broad public projects in developing their own expertise.

Los Angeles’s planned system joins the recently renewed efforts of Kutsuplus founder Split who, having been acquired by MOIA, are now contributing to the deveopmetn of new pilots of a similar concept in German cities.

Read about MOIA’s pilot in Hannover, Germany

Read more about Los Angeles’s ambitious MicroTransit project 

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