Innovations in Transit? An In-Depth Case Study of the City of Monrovia/Lyft Public-Private Partnership to Increase Transit Ridership in Suburbia

Over the last three years, a number of studies have explored whether transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, could be the “missing link” in conventional models of public transportation, by providing door-to-door on-demand mobility services for the first/last mile of a transit station. This issue is of particular significance in suburban contexts, as a) there has been a renewed emphasis on transit investments in suburban communities, and b) automobile dependence remains high and bus service rather poor. However, there is no study to date that specifically investigates whether partnering with a TNC can help address the first/last mile issue in suburban areas. As the transit network has expanded dramatically in the Los Angeles metropolitan area in recent years, we are beginning to see a variety of local responses to augment transit ridership, as documented in a recent Metrans study (Banerjee, Bahl, Webb-Jamme, Eisenlohr, Barrow, Rodriguez, Wallace, 2018). Here we focus on one such local initiative to develop an understanding of the future prospects for success through this initiative in other communities. The proposed research is an in-depth case study of a public-private partnership (PPP) between Lyft and the City of Monrovia, where a station of the LA Metro rail system opened in March 2016. Lyft is an on-demand transportation company providing ride-hailing services and based in San Francisco. Monrovia, a suburban community, with a population of 37,100 (2017 ACS) is located 20 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Launched in March 2018, this PPP is designed to provide an innovative way to bridge first mile/last mile connections between transit stops and origin/destinations as well as to provide residents a more convenient, faster, and personalized public transportation. Lyft serves as Monrovia’s primary public transit provider for all non-ADA related services. To this date, the PPP has been so successful that it has led to a significant deficit in the transportation budget of the City, resulting in two successive price increases for non-transit-related rides since the beginning of the PPP. The main purpose of the study is to assess whether the PPP with a TNC constitutes a viable and equitable option to address the first/last mile issue in a suburban community. This study will focus on the subgroup of Monrovia residents who request Lyft rides to/from the Monrovia light rail station, supposedly as a way to cover the first/last mile of transit. The study will address the following research questions: 1) What is the socioeconomic and demographic profile of the first/last mile users? 2) To what extent does the program meet the first/last mile mobility needs of Monrovia residents, especially those of low-income and/or transit dependent residents? 3) Can the PPP be considered a new model of “transit suburb,” where subsidized TNC rides support transit ridership and reduce automobile dependence? 4) From an institutional and sustainability perspective, what are the lessons learned, and how might this model be replicated in other suburban communities? The data will include existing trip data from Lyft, provided by the City of Monrovia. Additionally, the research team will work with Lyft to gain approval for a survey of 500 Lyft riders to collect individual demographic and ridership data. Respondents will be recruited through the Lyft online “app” with a $10 incentive to participate in the survey. Building on the existing trip data, descriptive statistics and mapping in GIS will reveal the spatial and temporal distribution of all first/last mile trips operated by Lyft since the beginning of the PPP. The survey data will be used to analyze the profile of trip riders, in aggregate. In addition, a Poisson regression model will be used to assess the relationship between the count of first/last mile trips per week and car ownership. The survey data will also be used to assess the price elasticity of demand reviewing how sensitive riders are to fare increase. Based on the information collected and subsidy constraints, we will estimate the relationship between possible fare increases and ridership levels. In practice, the findings of this study are expected to assist the City of Monrovia in reviewing their mobility goals while remaining within their budget constraints. Lessons learnt from the case study will inform other suburban communities about the feasibility of such a PPP to support a “suburban transit” model.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $99,997.00
    • Sponsor Organizations:

      California Department of Transportation

      1227 O Street
      Sacramento, CA  United States  95843
    • Managing Organizations:

      METRANS Transportation Center

      University of Southern California
      Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089-0626
    • Project Managers:

      Brinkerhoff, Cort

    • Performing Organizations:

      University of Southern California, Los Angeles

      University Park Campus
      Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089
    • Principal Investigators:

      Banerjee, Tridib

    • Start Date: 20200101
    • Expected Completion Date: 20201231
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01732416
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: METRANS Transportation Center
    • Files: RIP
    • Created Date: Feb 28 2020 12:58PM