Category Archives: Transportation

Alto to Come to LA

Alto – a rideshare company headquartered in Texas – is opening up in Los Angeles now also.  Local commuters can now get rides with the luxurious rideshare firm.  According to co-founder and CEO of the firm, Will Coleman:

“At such a critical time, we’re thrilled to bring Alto’s elevated rideshare and delivery experience to the Los Angeles market. Knowing how many people have benefited from our consistent, high-quality and safe offerings in our initial market in Texas, we know we have a lot to offer to the LA community.”

The company is working hard to ensure that rides are given in a coronavirus environment, all safety precautions are taken.  This means that they are all vehicles and cleaned thoroughly using disinfectant.  In addition, plexiglass separates the driver and passenger sections with the use of a HEPA cabin air filter eliminating air particles.

Over in public transport there is expansion in the Metro Micro ride-sharing service.  The NextGen Bus Plan has just been rolled out from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, aiming to make bus trips faster, add more trips and generally enhance the reliability and accessibility of the network.

According to Eric Garcetti, who, as well as being city mayor is also chairman of the Metro Board:

“Our mission is to create a world-class transportation system for Los Angeles by giving Angelenos a wide array of convenient, reliable and affordable transportation options to get where they need to go. With NextGen and Metro Micro, we are rolling out two key projects in our pursuit of a city and region defined by greater mobility and expanded prosperity for every rider, commuter and resident.”

With the use of devices, apps, etc., planning and paying for trips from A-Z will be facilitated.

Transportation Enhancements?

LA – like many large metropolitan cities – is often on the lookout for enhancements in traffic/infrastructure issues.  Here we look at some of the latest possible advancements in this area, specifically at Bird, DASH and the Metro.

A seated design has been created for users of Bird Rides Inc. Passengers now have the option of sitting, standing and bringing along a friend. Known as the Bird Cruiser this new shared e-bike will be tested in a few places later this summer. It has a padded seat, pedal-assist/peg cruising options, hydraulic brakes, a 52V battery, LCD display and custom motor to handle inclines.

As Travis VanderZanden explained:

“To further accelerate progress on our mission to make cities more livable, we are providing additional environmentally friendly micro-mobility alternatives —including Bird Cruiser. Designed and engineered in California, Bird Cruiser is an inclusive electric-powered option that is approachable, easy-to-ride and comfortable on rough roads.” 

To improve transportation matters for students in the region, Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced his intention to offer unlimited DASH (downtown bus service) for free to community college students.  Starting in the fall as a one-year pilot program, it is hoped this will become permanent and increase student use of buses by 10 percent.  Funded by the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) the idea is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing transportation.

The Metro is making progress on an extension for the Purple Line.  Once completed it will mark the establishment of a four-mile subway between Beverly Hills and Koreatown. To mark the progress completed on this to date, officials gathered at LA’s La Brea Tar Pits Museum and Park to celebrate with a fun family event.

One Stop Transportation Options

transportation-appGetting around Los Angeles has always been, well, pretty frustrating. In recent times, apps have been created to try to better “navigate” the situation as it were. Some have been more successful than others.

The most recent one was created in conjunction with the city of LA and Xerox. Go LA – while designed for tourists – has become a useful app for locals to have as well. Similar in style to Google Maps and HopStop, it comes with additional options including: Walk, bike, drive, ride a motorcycle, take public transit, summon an on-demand ride through Lyft, book a car share through Zipcar, and soon, a bike through LA’s new bike share. It also comes with directions to parking (near where the user is) along with travel time.

What really makes Go LA stand out is that it “not only combines these different modes into various combinations for complete door-to-door directions (walk-bus-walk, etc.) it also allows you to choose itineraries based on three categories: Sooner, Cheaper, Greener.” That is in line with what people are thinking each time they leave home: how immediate is their trip? Do they have time to exercise en route or visit grandma before they go? It’s a good feature.

There is so much traffic in LA, possibly the worst in the world. Indeed according to a report undertaken by Texas A&M Transportation Institute, one driver sat through 80 hours of traffic delays. If an app can help one avoid that, then it’s worth its weight in gold.

Smarter Ways to Get Around LA

cyclingWhat are the best, cheapest and most efficient ways to get around Los Angeles? Let’s first look at the car-sharing programs. First, there is WaiveCar that was recently launched in Santa Monica. “We waive the fee; you drive for free.” So how does that work if it’s free? How is WaiveCar making a profit? Well, while customers can use free cars for two hours, for every subsequent hour, there is a $5.99 charge. Co-founder of the firm, Isaac Deutsch explained that funding is coming from “the digital displays atop its fleet of four-door electric Chevy Sparks” (similar idea to that the VeriFone displays found in New York and Las Vegas taxicabs) he added.

Another ride-sharing company is Lyft. This provides automakers with “direct access to the growing market for ride-sharing and a potential channel for offering self-driving cars for on-demand use” and has received a $500 million investment from General Motors. As part of the investment deal, GM is getting a seat on the Board of Directors at the firm. Lyft drivers will be able to rent vehicles from General Motors which could “expand Lyft’s business by giving people who don’t own cars a way to earn money by becoming Lyft drivers even though they don’t own a car.” According to company co-founder and President, John Zimmer, “working with GM, Lyft will continue to unlock new transportation experiences that bring positive change to our daily lives. Together we will build a better future by redefining traditional car ownership.” The Lyft app matches you with local drivers at the tap of a button. Just request and go.

There is always the traditional option of car rentals. According to a report in Frommer’s, “Los Angeles is one of the cheapest places in America to rent a car. The major national car-rental companies usually rent economy- and compact-class cars for about $40 per day (hybrids $80-$90) and $200-plus per week, with unlimited mileage.” Or the old school trains and buses, operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority.

For those who just can’t bear the thought of incessant traffic (which is as akin to LA as the apple is to New York, according to Sara Lieberman who wrote of this in the Conde Nast Traveler), get a bike. In Santa Monica this is an extremely popular way of getting around and for those who don’t own a bike Helen’s Cycles rents them out for approximately $40 a day. And you’re killing two birds with one stone: getting around while keeping in shape!

Los Angeles Transport

bikeA new bike-sharing scheme is being put in place in Los Angeles early next year. Developed by Metro at a cost of $7.78 million, the plan is to bring a thousand bikes to downtown Los Angeles for rent. While it might be a green initiative, it is not a money-saving one. Someone who just wants to use it on a one-off will have to pay a staggering $3.50. That price goes down with a monthly pass ($20 with free rides if the bike is returned after a half hour). For a year, one can pay $40 for a pass but then rides cost $1.75. This is the same as it costs for a Metro bus or train.

So it’s not the cheapest transportation option but at least it’s green. Talking of green, the 2016 Green Car of the Year was announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Two plug-in electric cars with gasoline engines were also launched there. These were BMW’s 2016 330e Drive Sedan and the X5 xDrive40e crossover. At the show last year, the winner of the Green Car Award was BMW’s i3 — a battery electric car made with lighter, carbon fiber. There is a redesigned one – the 2016 i3 – that is now being launched.

In other transportation news, Los Angeles Country voters might soon be able to participate in decision-making on whether or not to make taxes higher in an effort to assist transportation work. Currently, law in California lets cities and counties impose sales and use taxes above and beyond the state sales tax, up to a combined 2 percent rate with voter endorsement.