By Ray Richardson
SOUTH LOS ANGELES – Residents of South Los Angeles are benefitting from a new transit initiative that includes subsidized fares on buses and trains operated by the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
In addition to fare discounts, Universal Basic Mobility, an $18 million pilot program implemented by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, is providing access for South L.A. residents to e-bikes, shared electric vehicle cars and an on-demand electric vehicle shuttle service.
Transportation officials developed the Universal Basic Mobility program to assist residents in an area that historically has had limited transit options.
“For my constituents, mobility is essential to survival and an avenue to opportunities,” said 9th District Councilman Curren Price, whose district is home to many residents who will be served by the program.
“Without the right transportation, our neighbors cannot access basic needs. Accessible, affordable, safe and sustainable transportation should never be considered a privilege.”
The mobility program, which launched on April 26, covers residents bounded by the Santa Monica (10) Freeway on the north, Florence Avenue on the south, Alameda Street on the east and Crenshaw Boulevard on the west.
Program developers from both the MTA and the city Department of Transportation identified the area for the pilot program based on the number of households below the poverty line and the large percentage of residents who rely on public transportation.
“As a city, we must prioritize equal access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation that serves the needs of residents regardless of income,” said Seleta Reynolds, general manager of the city Department of Transportation, said in a statement. “This initiative helps empower South L.A. communities and lays the foundation for a concerted, citywide effort to achieve universal basic mobility.”
Some of the features of the program include access to 250 e-bikes, 100 additional electric-powered vehicles, free on-demand electric vehicle shuttle services, subsidized fares on MTA and DASH buses for at least 2,000 District 9 residents, 16 electric vehicle charging stations at four libraries and 75 electric vehicle charging stations at park and recreation facilities.
The program also provides workforce training at Los Angeles Trade Technical College for up to 30 district residents to learn maintenance and repair of electric vehicle systems and vehicles. The training is free and generates certification upon completion.
“We are grateful for [the Department of Transportation’s] support as we foster career paths for students to become agents of change in their communities,” said Katrina VanderWoude, president of L.A. Trade Tech in a statement. “Students in our EV program will participate in internships with local dealerships and repair facilities, giving them real-life experiences in EV maintenance.”
The California Air Resources Board, California Climate Investments and the Los Angeles City Council contributed to the $18 million in funding to support the program.
Other partners include CicLAvia, Mobility Development Partners, Blink Mobility, the Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator, EV Go, Streets LA, Bureau of Street Lighting, L.A. Public Libraries and L.A. Parks and Recreation.
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.