New rideshare service pilot seeks to establish best practices for public-private partnerships, featuring a flat-rate fare and vehicles driven by salaried U.S. military veterans
Los Angeles, California. October 2, 2018—FASTLinkDTLA, Downtown LA’s transportation management-focused public-private partnership, and moovel, the leading provider of mobile ticketing applications in North America, announced today the launch of a new ridesharing pilot that will complement the city’s public transit network. To ensure the service is available to all and grows to meet the needs of the community, FlexLA will charge a reduced fare during the pilot. In the future, FlexLA riders will pay a competitive flat-rate fare, with discounted fares available for qualifying low-income Angelenos. The FlexLA mobile app will be available in both Spanish and English.
FlexLA will help Angelenos and visitors travel throughout downtown in Mercedes-Benz Metris passenger vans and GLC hybrid vehicles driven by salaried U.S. military veterans. Powered by technology from moovel, 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.
“I have supported the FASTLinkDTLA program from the very beginning of its grant application and am pleased to see this pilot moving forward,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar. “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 centers in the nation. That growth is achievable if we help FASTLinkDTLA accomplish its goals to incentivize people to travel together by transit, micro-transit, biking and walking.”
A model for public-private partnerships
FASTLinkDTLA has partnered with a variety of local veterans programs to hire a team of U.S. 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.
“Many workers and residents in Downtown L.A. are left with few transportation options during the late-night hours when public transit service is less frequent,” said FAST Executive Director Hilary Norton. “FlexLA fills 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 rideshare services. 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 L.A.”
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 L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar.
Support from Metro and LADOT
The FASTLinkDTLA project was funded through Metro’s ExpressLanes program, which is designed to improve traffic flow and provide enhanced travel options in Los Angeles County. Partially funded by Metro’s reinvestment of ExpressLanes toll revenues, this project provides direct mobility benefits to the community surrounding the I-10 and I-110 ExpressLanes. As the sponsor of FASTLinkDTLA, LADOT will help oversee the service delivery, and ensure connectivity with its local-serving DASH bus system as well as with the regional public transit network operated by Metro. This includes identifying the service area and defining virtual stops. Virtual stops are physical locations identified in the moovel app to help direct riders to specific locations where drivers will pick them up.
“We are pleased to be part of this innovative program, 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.”
"Microtransit helps us create an oasis in a transit desert," said LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds. "This pilot connects people to more places and more opportunities. When we create smart, easy, sustainable mobility choices that work, everybody wins.”
Launch of moovel’s on demand technology in North America
Los Angeles will be the first city in North America to pilot moovel’s on-demand technology, which is currently powering the “SSB Flex” rideshare service in Stuttgart, Germany. SSB—or the Stuttgarter Strassenbahnen AG—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.
“It’s been several months since we first launched and tested moovel’s on-demand technology in the City of Stuttgart,” said moovel Group CEO Daniela Gerd tom Markotten. “Rider feedback has been outstanding and city officials recently took the program from a pilot to a regular service. The partnership in Los Angeles provides the perfect opportunity to build upon our success in Stuttgart and bring moovel on-demand to the United States.”
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.
“With FlexLA, we are creating an easy-to-use service that will help to strengthen the city’s public transportation network,” said moovel North America CEO Nat Parker. “We are proud to be working with a fantastic set of partners to ensure this service delivers for both drivers and riders while generating benefits for the entire community.”
FAST Executive Director Hilary Norton and moovel North America’s CEO Nat Parker are available for interviews about how FlexLA will make it easier to get around Downtown LA. To schedule an interview, please contact Laura Modjeski at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit bit.ly/FlexLA to download the FlexLA press kit.
FASTLinkDTLA is a partnership of businesses, employers, developers, business improvement districts, organizations, and nonprofits focused on improving mobility, transportation and infrastructure in Downtown Los Angeles. pFASTLinkDTLA’s activities include advocating and promoting transportation system and demand management strategies to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and commuting costs. It also generates joint public-private partnerships to solve transportation problems. In addition, FASTLinkDTLA creates a central information service for increasing mobility choices and addresses public transportation and other transportation related issues with a goal to improve the quality of life.