Innovations in Transit? An In-Depth Case Study of the City of Monrovia/Lyft Public-Private Partnership to Increase Transit Ridership in Suburbia
This study examined the implementation of the GoMonrovia program launched in March of 2018. The GoMonrovia program was a public-private partnership between the City of Monrovia, California and a Transportation Network Company (TNC) ride-hailing service that provided Monrovia residents with subsidized TNC rides within the City boundaries. The program sought to help support transit use, and therefore reduce automobile dependency within a sprawling suburban context. Through a user survey and trip data collected, the analysis in this study took into account socioeconomic and demographic profiles of the first/last mile users, and the extent to which the program met the first/last mile needs of especially those with low incomes and/or transit dependency. The impact of the GoMonrovia program on personal vehicle usage was also explored in this study. Survey respondents were recruited through an online application as well as through the City’s social media channels and newsletter. Administered in May-June 2021, the survey yielded 203 responses. Trip data spanning 2018-2021 period and the survey data were used to construct various statistical models used for the analysis.
- Investigate price sensitivity when using rideshare systems for first/last mile-oriented travel. A 21 percent loss in monthly ridership was found between June 2019 and February 2020 without any commensurate change in service area, and only a marginal increase in the cost of a shared ride (from $2.50 to $3.00) and the cost of a shared ride to/from the Metro/Downtown area (from $0.50 to $1.00). Results obtained from the implementation of the rideshare program in this study suggest that price sensitivity should be examined even if the increase is marginal.
- Determine the price with the consideration of how the program is situated within a city’s general financial plan. It could be important to keep the cost of the rideshare program low if it is planned to become an extension of a city’s transit system, and if it is to improve the transit capabilities of low-income households. Fully subsidize the rideshare program to/from transit stations and seek additional public support where necessary for the rideshare program to expand access in an equitable way.
- Consider the role of transit systems, both subway and commuter rail. Survey results indicated that the attractiveness of the subway system is a key determinant of the rideshare program’s feasibility as a first/last mile mechanism. Nearby commuter rail systems should be considered as well when determining the service areas for a similar rideshare program.
- Address safety concerns surrounding the offered rideshare system. In this study, multiple survey respondents indicated either stopping their use of GoMonrovia or using it less frequently due to safety concerns about riding Metro or issues with the Metro’s connectivity to jobs. Mitigating such issues would be essential for a successful implementation of similar rideshare systems.