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Transportation and Mobility

LA Plans To Give Some South LA Residents $150 Per Month For Transit Trips. Here’s Where, When And Why

A woman steps out  to the curb from the rear door of an orange L.A. Metro bus as the driver, wearing a face mask, watches.
( Courtesy L.A. Metro)
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Residents in some South Los Angeles communities will soon have an opportunity to take part in a program designed to make it easier to get around without driving — and the city will help pay for it.

L.A.’s Department of Transportation has announced the formal launch of its Universal Basic Mobility pilot program, with a goal to “flood the zone” with new transit services, according to LADOT officials.

The department's Connie Llanos says the goal is to help people who do not own a car and therefore have limited access to jobs and other opportunities.

“This pilot gives us an opportunity to really invest in one community and see that tangible difference, making that community safer, bringing more options to that community and giving people direct access to resources so they can take advantage of the choices that we're making available to them,” she said.

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That will happen through several services, including:

  • A “mobility wallet” to provide subsidized transit passes
  • On-demand community shuttle service
  • Electric bike sharing
  • Pedestrian upgrades on local streets
  • Electric car sharing
  • Expanded charging stations

Officials said the subsidized transit passes “will be offered to community members that face mobility challenges including students, senior citizens, low-income residents and people with differing abilities.”

Residents still have a bit of a wait, though, and those mobility wallets will be limited. In total 2,000 residents in the project area will receive $150 a month for a year, Sweeney explained. There will be an application process, expected to open this fall, “with subsidies distributed by [the] first quarter of 2023,” he said.

It’s part of the city’s efforts to make transit and active transportation more accessible for Angelenos in disinvested neighborhoods.

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The key goal, according to LADOT:

To eliminate the functional and/or structural immobility people experience due to racism and other systemic marginalization, cost burdens, and other forms of exclusion… When people’s right to movement is restricted, their personal health and wellbeing, productivity and belonging, and happiness are negatively affected.

The issues of equity are substantial. Someone with a car has access to 12 times more jobs within an hour commute than someone relying on public transit, according to LADOT.

The project, initially announced in June 2021, focuses on several neighborhoods in South L.A., roughly within the borders of the 10 Freeway to the north, South Alameda Street to the east, Crenshaw Boulevard to the west and Florence Avenue to the South.

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More than 370,000 people live in the project zone, according to LADOT officials, and nearly a third live below the federal poverty line.

“The majority of residents are people of color with two-thirds Hispanic and a quarter African-American,” officials stated on the program’s website.

There's an emphasis on offering environmentally sustainable transportation options, including electrical vehicle carshares and shuttles to the area, as well as EV chargers, e-bikes, and street improvements.

The program will also include “job-training programs in EV and e-bike maintenance,” according to a news release.

The mobility pilot will receive funding through a $13.8 million grant from the California Air Resources Board-Sustainable Transportation Equity Project (CARB-STEP), along with $4 million from the city of L.A.

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The transit pilot comes as Los Angeles County is experimenting with a guaranteed basic income program for adults living in select neighborhoods. That program, called Breathe, will provide $1,000 a month for three years to 1,000 residents and researchers will study the impact on the recipients' economic well being. The deadline to apply was April 13.

Phoenix Tso contributed to this report.

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