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City of La Mirada – Efficient Transportation Program to Address Climate Change

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Efficient Transportation

La Mirada’s flexible route service encourages transit use for local travel, and makes it easier for commuters to connect with regional service, reducing the number of vehicles on the road and thus greenhouse gas emissions.

Community:La Mirada (Los Angeles County)

Population: 50,477


La Mirada’s Transit service provides a flexible route Dial-a-Ride program, offering “curb-to-curb” service within the city. Passengers share rides in the city’s fleet of small buses. The service is available to all residents and visitors. Passengers may call when they are ready to be picked up, schedule pick-up in advance, or subscribe to regular service. Reservations are based on time and space availability. The service also connects riders with adjacent transit agencies.

Program Highlights

  • Program available to anyone.
  • Passengers share small busses.
  • Funded through county sales tax, fares, and other sources.

Lessons Learned

  • Need to educate the public on how to use the system and to connect with other regional transit providers.
  • Computerized scheduling increases route efficiency with GPS tracking.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

La Mirada established its Dial-a-Ride program in 1973. One of the first flexible route “paratransit” type services in California, La Mirada’s program is one of only a few that serve the general public (Arcadia and Claremont are two others). Like fixed-route transit service, riders share rides in the city’s fleet of small buses. By providing flexible service, La Mirada is able to supplement fixed-route service provided by several regional transit agencies that passes through or near the city. Service is available Monday through Saturday.

To use the service, riders simply call and request a pick-up. A computerized scheduling system uses GPS tracking to identify the closest bus and most efficient route. The system then transmits the request to a routing computer on the bus, which informs the driver of the new pickup and route changes. La Mirada installed the computerized system (called Trapeze) in early 2009, as part of an effort to increase efficiency. In addition to increasing route efficiency, the computerized system also helps relieve dispatchers from the need to communicate scheduling information to drivers. This allows the dispatchers to focus on customer service and creative trip planning.

The Fleet

La Mirada contracts with a private firm to manage the Dial-a-Ride program. The city owns 12 small buses that can carry between 16 and 24 passengers each, and is in the process of replacing a portion of the fleet with low-emission compressed natural gas vehicles. Generally, between four to eight vehicles are in operation at any given time, and 4 are held in reserve or for maintenance. Nine of the 12 vehicles are ADA compliant, with lifts to accommodate wheelchairs. La Mirada also uses its fleet to provide residents non-emergency medical transport services up to one mile outside the City limits by appointment.

Program Outreach

The program’s outreach activities include its Web site, brochures, and system maps and schedules (which include information about regional connecting services) to provide information for the public and potential riders. The program also participates in regional transportation planning processes.

Program Effectiveness

La Mirada measures the Dial-a-Ride program’s effectiveness in several ways. Objective measurements include the number of bus-hours of operation and the average number of riders per hour. The program has averaged between 40,000 and 50,000 riders per year, and averages about four riders per hour. La Mirada’s current goal is to raise that to five riders per hour. Additionally, the program tracks public comments, and is preparing a ridership survey.

Program Funding

La Mirada funds the Dial-a-Ride Program with revenue from a county sales tax that provides funding for transportation improvements and congestion relief, as well as passenger fares ($1.00 reflects full fare). Like most transit agencies, La Mirada uses state and federal transportation funds to cover capital costs. The total budget for La Mirada’s Dial-a-Ride is approximately $850,000 per year.

Compiled May 2009

This case story was prepared in partnership with the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

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