Regional officials gathered last week to announce a new plan to reduce traffic on Los Angeles roads and many details mirror efforts already underway in Santa Monica.

On Wednesday, Sept. 14 over thirty people gathered at the J.W. Marriot in Los Angeles to discuss the Los Angeles County Mobility Action Plan developed by the Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC).

SUMC is a nonprofit organization that provides research, advice and support to develop policies that enhance mobility. The organization partnered with several regional agencies to develop a plan that would reduce county traffic by about 2 percent or 100,000 cars and provided details at a meeting last week.

Sharon Feigon, the Executive Director SUMC introduced the plan to audience, and acknowledged the efforts and research that was put into this action plan.

She said, “We are very excited this morning to be here and launch the official shared mobility action plan for LA County. This document lays out a blueprint of how to actually reduce the number of cars on the road by 100,000 in LA County over the next five years.”

Feigon was joined by transportation leaders from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the American Public Transportation Association in announcing their modest goal of taking 100,000 cars off the road in five years.

To realize this goal the plan includes a series of recommended strategies.

  1. Expanding the role and reach of transit
  2. Drive Cultural change to support transit and shared mobility
  3. Emphasize and expand carsharing in all communities
  4. Leverage the regions bikesharing momentum
  5. Experiment in ridesourcing, microtransit and vanpooling
  6. Build out mobility hubs countywide
  7. Roadmap for action: prioritizing tactics and implementation

The plan provides specific recommendations for new policies, programs, partnerships in each strategy. The advice includes integrating TAP cards into bike and rideshare programs, implementing well-staffed marketing and outreach campaigns in parallel with program launches and partnering with existing rideshare provides to supplement the first/last mile of a public transit trip.

Officials acknowledged some elements of the plan are already underway such as the launch of a bikeshares in the Los Angeles area.

Recently the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched one of the first transit agency operated bikesharing systems in the nation, installing approximately 1,000 bikes and 65 stations throughout Downtown LA. Other cities such as Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Long Beach have also opened bikeshare systems.

Carshare programs are also part of the plan.

In the last few years Los Angeles has grown from hosting one shared mobility provider, Zipcar, to nearly a dozen, including innovative homegrown start-ups such as HopSkipDrive. Many of the nation’s leading shared mobility providers, such as Uber and Lyft, now have a major presence in the region.

Doran Barnes, Incoming Chair, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) said, “It is exciting to launch this plan. Whether we get around with Uber, Lyft, transit or the bikeshare. Downtown has an alarming high density of traffic and with this shared mobility action plan there is hope that traffic can decrease.”

Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of Los Angeles Department of Transportation said, “It is an exciting time to be in transportation and this is a huge barrier to overcome in Los Angeles. This county is a place of shared opportunity and that is why the shared mobility plan can help scale up transportation.”

SUMC estimates the county could reach the traffic reduction goal if it can recruit 34,000 new transit riders, 16,800 carpool users, 8,400 car share cars, and 10,000 bike share bikes.

The countywide plan references Santa Monica several times with recommendations that mirror some of the existing programs operating locally under the GoSamo banner.

The report cites the launch of programs like the civic funded Breeze Bikeshare and the privately created WaiveCar (a locally based car share company that uses advertising to provide free rentals) as examples for the region. The plan also describes Santa Monica’s Transportation Demand Management programs among the best practices to be modeled by other cities.

The plan uses Santa Monica as a cautionary example of securing partnerships over the recent Request for Proposal for the Blue at Night program (providing late-night, demand transport).

“However, the RFP received few applicants due to the narrow service model,” it said. “By keeping requests flexible, and opting for RFQs instead of RFPs, agencies can help attract ideas from a wider array of providers. Metro’s new ‘request for unsolicited proposals,’ coordinated through its Office for Extraordinary Innovation (OEI), can serve as a resource for other agencies when it comes to crafting flexible procurement models.”

The plan acknowledges traffic in Los Angeles has gotten worse and officials believe the plan will not only improve the flow of streets but also save money for many people and cut greenhouse gas emissions as transportation is one of the fastest growing factors contributing to the climate change.

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By Marina Andalon