With $1 rides, Metro Micro bridges NELA

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LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) expanded its on-demand ride-share service known as Metro Micro to Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Glendale, Altadena, Pasadena and Sierra Madre beginning June 27, according to their website. Rides can be hailed either through its iOS or Android apps, by calling the phone number 323.GO.METRO or by booking via their website. Rides are currently $1 and can be purchased with a debit, credit or a TAP card.

The program is a part of Metro’s NextGen Bus Plan that aims to greatly increase the coverage and frequency of LA’s bus system, making service faster and more reliable.

According to Occidental Urban & Environmental Policy (UEP) professor Seva Rodnyansky, Metro Micro is a solution to the “last mile problem” in public transportation by providing transportation from their house to the closest Metro stop, and from the last stop to their final destination.

“It’s typically used to cover first mile or last mile connections where someone might use transit, but it doesn’t go to their house or exactly to where they need to go,” Rodnyansky said. “So this is kind of a fix.”

In addition, he said Metro Micro can be especially helpful for mobility-limited individuals or their households because it is hailed directly to the rider, making it even more accessible than a traditional bus or train system.

Community member Lucille Davis said she has been overwhelmingly pleased with the quality of the Metro Micro service and is a loyal customer.

“I use a Metro Micro almost every day,” Davis said. “They’re very good drivers. They’re punctual. They just do exactly what you tell them to do. They’re wonderful. I’m very, very happy with it.”

Davis said in her experience, Metro Micro buses have always been extremely clean and tidy.

According to Rodnyansky, ridership of all public transportation systems, including LA Metro, fell drastically due to safety concerns during the pandemic. However, usage is on the rebound and all buses require masks.

“In a Metro Micro van, to some extent, you’re even closer to people,” Rodnyansky said. “But to another extent, there’s fewer people to be close to.”

Community member Ji Young Park said she primarily uses the service to run errands or meet up with friends. Park said although she has seen drivers and passengers not wearing masks inside Metro Micro before, overall Metro Micro has felt more safe than regular Metro bus services.

“I have been preferring Metro Micro over the bus because when I would take the bus during the pandemic there were always people who were not wearing masks,” Park said. “So I preferred Metro Micro because either I would be the only person riding or there might be like a couple other people. And I just felt safer.”

Metro Micro also allows users to book vehicles with bike racks attached, and Park said she often takes her bike with her on Metro Micro rides.

“I’ve definitely taken my bike with me because I’ll want to do a bunch of things in an area,” Park said.

Rodnyansky noted that another major selling point of the Metro Micro service is its relatively low price.

“[Metro Micro] is relatively cheap, compared to other[s] like Uber or Lyft, or even regular bus fare or train fare,” Rodnyansky said.

Keelyn McDermott (first year) said the low ride fair is a major selling point of Metro Micro, and she appreciates being able to use it when exploring parts LA further away from campus.

“I’d be like: ‘Oh do any of my friends have a car?’ Oh they don’t have a car. ‘Then can we take an Uber?'” McDermott said. “No one wants to pay for an Uber. Then it would be Metro Micro.”

According to Rodnyansky, the accessibility and convenience that Metro Micro offers is beneficial for the LA community.

“I think it’s certainly good,” Rodnyansky said. “It’s certainly better than not having it.”