- Los Angeles Metro released its 2023 customer experience improvement plan last month with a promise to restore rail frequency to pre-COVID service levels. Other action items include improving Spanish language communications and improving lighting and camera visibility across the metro system to bring back more women riders.
- The plan is the result of a survey LA Metro conducted of more than 10,000 riders last year. About 3 in 5 riders said they were satisfied with LA bus and metro.
- “The 56 distinct actions outlined in the 2023 Customer Experience Plan will help us deliver the safe, clean, comfortable, reliable and easy transit system that the people of Los Angeles want and deserve,” wrote Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of LA Metro, in a letter to LA residents when releasing the plan.
Though riders are beginning to return to the LA metro system, the public transportation agency has a ways to go to address customers’ concerns.
Metro is trying to address a years-long decline in ridership, precipitated in large part by the pandemic. In 2018 — when the LA Metro Board first asked for a comprehensive customer experience plan — LA’s metro and bus system had 34,500,000 total boardings. That number plummeted to roughly 17,000,000 in the first year of the pandemic. Today, it’s around 26,500,000.
Through the survey, LA Metro was able to get a picture of its customer pool and found that slightly more men than women use the metro system and a majority are Latino. Nearly 9 in 10 bus riders and 7 in 10 rail riders make less than $50,000 a year.
In car-dependent LA, customers were overwhelmingly loyal to the metro system, with many riding for three years or longer and at least three days a week.
Despite such loyalty, riders aren’t happy. Half of frequent riders are considering switching to another mode of transportation — a 5 percentage point increase from pre-COVID levels.
Riders’ qualms differed between bus and rail, but there was one common denominator: concerns about how Metro was addressing homelessness. Metro riders ranked cleanliness inside the train, homelessness, and safety from crime as the top three areas of concern, while bus riders ranked the bus coming on time, frequency of buses, and homelessness as their top concerns.
To address homelessness, the LA Metro doubled the number of homeless outreach workers and clinicians, and to address safety, Metro has had security and law enforcement work more late night shifts in its stations.
Metro also implemented a pilot program in 2022 to bring 300 unarmed green-shirted “transit ambassadors” to trains and buses. The goal: to offer a helping hand and to make riders feel safe.
A recent survey found that 3 in 5 riders felt transit ambassadors made their ride on Metro safer. Metro is looking to make transit ambassadors a permanent fixture.
Other improvements to address the reliability of the bus system include implementing more bus lanes (with 30 miles to be completed by end of 2023) and the continuation of a camera bus lane enforcement pilot.