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LADOT Proposes Expanded Transit Service, Including Expanding DASH and MicroTransit Pilot

LADOT is recommending expanding its transit services, including DASH bus service – photo via Walk Eagle Rock

The Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT) has a plan to expand transit services, including expanding DASH and CityRide, and trying out a microtransit pilot. The proposed expansions are not yet fully funded, though they could get partially underway using some transit expansion funds in the current fiscal year budget.

The proposal is part of LADOT's transit service analysis - an effort that got its start with a city council motion approved in 2014. LADOT held public workshops and received public comments from 2015-2016.

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds delivered a summary presentation of the department's transit service analysis recommendations at yesterday's L.A. City Council Transportation Committee.

The analysis recommends improved DASH service:

    • Increased frequency - minimum 15-minute headways
    • Longer service hours
    • Seven days per week service for all routes
    • Better connectivity to Metro stations

LADOT also recommends ten new dash lines:  Boyle Heights, Canoga Park, Elysian Valley/Cypress Park, Glassell Park/Highland Park, Mission Hills, North Hollywood,  Pacoima, Sun Valley, Sylmar, and Van Nuys/North Hills. Individual route map PDFs are available on the LADOT Transit website.

The analysis recommends improvements to CityRide, the city's shuttle service for seniors and disabled persons. Improvements would include increased subsidies for both shuttle and taxi rides, and updated policies for better efficiency.

LADOT proposed Westside microtransit pilot. Map via LADOT presentation
LADOT proposed Westside microtransit pilot. Map via LADOT presentation
LADOT proposed Westside microtransit pilot. Map via LADOT presentation

LADOT is also proposing a demand/response microtransit pilot project that would operate somewhat similarly to Lyft/Uber ride-pool services where folks use a smart phone app to hail rides. The pilot would operate in an Westside service area roughly centered on Venice Boulevard, extending from the beach to the Palms and Culver City Expo Line stations.

The question that remains is how to pay for LADOT's recommended expansions.

According to Councilmember Mike Bonin's implementation motion (council file 18-0244) the current 2017-18 fiscal year budget includes more than $40 million toward DASH expansion:

    • $14.4 million for five new DASH routes
    • $19 million to support expanded Sunday and weekend DASH services
    • $10 million dollars to purchase 25 new buses for the expanded service hours

Within the existing budget, LADOT could expand DASH hours/days, as well as CityRide and microtransit. Reynolds reported that LADOT would need "modest" additional funding, anticipating $500 thousand (corrected 3/30) in the 2018-19 budget. Overall, LADOT estimates that recommendations would have a net cost of $26-28 million per year (gross $62 million per year, offset by fare revenues.)

The Transportation Committee approved the LADOT recommendations, but will await the City Administrative Officer's recommended "funding options."

There may be some state funding available, especially for transit capital via California cap-and-trade and/or gas tax funds. One downside is that LADOT estimates that new electric bus vehicle procurement (needed for new DASH routes) will take 12-18 months.

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