“Mobility as a Service” creates a stir in Los Angeles
Approved by the Los Angeles City Council, the Mobility Plan 2035 breaks from the city’s traditional car-centric approach. Yet, it’s hard to imagine a city in the world where the automobile reigns more supreme. The sprawling California metropolis, known for having the worst pollution in the United States, is notorious for its horrendous traffic.
Under the new mobility plan, hundreds of bicycle paths, public transport projects and new pedestrian spaces will be built. To become the model multi-modal city it aspires to be, Los Angeles must radically change the mentality of its residents.
The mobility capital of the world
Seventy percent of L.A. commuters still drive to work, but civic attitudes are starting to shift, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti: “It’s the way of thinking that needs to change dramatically in L.A., but there will be life after cars. My goal – and the goal of this city – is to be the transportation technology capital of the world.”
Mobility Plan 2035 sets out numerous, ambitious goals. One objective is to ensure that 90% of all households have access to public transportation and bicycling infrastructure, within one and a half kilometres of their homes. Another is to ensure that 75% of the population has access to a carsharing vehicle, within one kilometre of their homes. As a result of these and other mobility choices, the proportion of the overall household budget in L.A. taken up by transport costs should be reduced to 10%.
Mobility as a Service
Under Mr. Garcetti, Los Angeles is positioning itself as a laboratory for transport start-ups. “If we can do it in L.A., we can do it anywhere,” he said. At 47, Mr. Garcetti is the city’s youngest mayor in over a century. His vision is rooted in the concept of “Mobility as a Service”.
Mobility as a Service is about combining various modes of public transport services that can be paid for on a monthly or pay-as-you-go basis. For example, for $75 per month, users will be able to access a wide array of transport choices, including autonomous taxis, urban rail, car-sharing and bike-sharing schemes, and small transit vehicles with routes that change based on demand. L.A.’s mayor is on the way to creating the first smart megacity.
Promoting new technologies
The way we get around evolves in step with advances in technology. Thanks to a mobile application called MyLA311, Angelenos can report potholes, graffiti, broken street lights or fallen trees. Another community-based app keeps users up to date on traffic conditions, road closures, bus/metro arrival times and other issues. The delivery of real-time data allows them to adjust their routes as they travel.
According to city projections, the number of kilometres driven daily by L.A. residents will total 55 million in 2035. The mobility plan is expected to reduce vehicle miles travelled by seven million kilometres. In the future, the transport system could focus on exploiting recorded historical data to help predict traffic.
The Mobility Plan 2035 also aims to lower the traffic fatality rate to zero. Over 36,000 Angelenos are killed or injured in road accidents every year, according to city statistics.
Things are changing, however. The city is making efforts to improve the safety of pedestrians, especially children, the elderly and the disabled, who are the most vulnerable road users. Conventional wisdom has it that “nobody walks in L.A.” Soon that will no longer be true.