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Downton LA pilots ride-share service

The pilot also seeks to establish best practices for public-private partnerships

Angelenos will ride with friends or passengers headed in the same direction
Angelenos will ride with friends or passengers headed in the same direction

Los Angeles transportation management public-private partnership, FASTLinkDTLA, and mobile ticketing specialist, moovel, are launching a ride-sharing pilot that aims to complement the city’s public transit network.


FlexLA riders will be charged a reduced fare for the pilot service and in the future pay a competitive flat-rate fare, with discounted fares available for qualifying low-income Angelenos. A mobile app will be available in both Spanish and English.


Driven by salaried US veterans


Passengers can travel throughout downtown LA in Mercedes-Benz Metris passenger vans and GLC hybrid vehicles driven by salaried US military veterans. The service will be available in the evenings when public transit service is less frequent and a mobile app will allow riders to plan and pay for their trip.


Riders will be picked up and dropped off at designated, safe virtual stops and driven in the company of friends and other passengers headed in the same direction. Riders can also be picked up and dropped off at Downtown Dash bus stops.

“DTLA needs the addition of this service, and more to follow, in order to meet the intense growth demands that make Downtown Los Angeles one of the fastest growing urban centres in the nation,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar.


“That growth is achievable if we help FASTLinkDTLA accomplish its goals to incentivise people to travel together by transit, micro-transit, biking and walking.”

Accessible to all


FASTLinkDTLA has partnered with a variety of local veterans programmes to hire a team of US veterans as drivers for the microtransit service. All FlexLA drivers will be salaried employees with benefits and will be driving fleet vehicles rather than their own personal cars. Customers with wheelchairs and mobility devices will be connected to ADA-accessible vehicles from ButterFLi, an LA-based transportation provider for people with accessibility challenges.

“DTLA needs the addition of this service, and more to follow, in order to meet the intense growth demands that make Downtown Los Angeles one of the fastest growing urban centres”

FAST executive director Hilary Norton said that many workers and residents in Downtown LA are left with few transportation options during the late-night hours when public transit service is less frequent and that FlexLA will fill a gap in the city’s transportation network: “Offering Angelenos a safe, reliable transportation option that connects with public transit, and provides a more predictable cost than private ride-share services.”


She added: “FASTLinkDTLA will actively seek feedback from riders and the community to grow and evolve the FlexLA service to ensure it is meeting the needs of people who live, work and visit Downtown LA.”


Private-public partnerships


FlexLA will be operated by moovel, in partnership with fleet operator SMS Transportation. The FASTLinkDTLA microtransit service will be led by the executive director of Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic (FAST), in partnership with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), and City Council member José Huizar.

“We are pleased to be part of this innovative programme, specifically because it provides first and last mile connections to the Silver Line bus route,” said Metro’s CEO Phillip A. Washington. “The Silver Line is one of the most successful bus routes in Metro’s system, and we are excited to pilot electric vehicle buses on the route in the near future.”

US first for moovel


Los Angeles will be the first city in North America to pilot moovel’s on-demand technology, which is currently powering the SSB Flex ride-share service in Stuttgart, Germany. SSB -- or the Stuttgarter Strassenbahnen -- is the public transit provider for the Stuttgart region.


Designed as a supplemental mode of public transportation in what are known as transportation “blank spots” and during off-peak times, moovel on-demand provided service to more than 20,000 passengers during its six-month pilot in 2017.

Moovel’s on-demand technology includes mobile apps for both riders and drivers, as well as an operator dashboard that provides mobility managers within local government and public transit agencies an overview of data analytics, customer support, and fleet management in real time.

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