What If Your City Gave You Money for Transit?

This pilot in L.A. is making getting around town a more equitable and affordable experience.

(Photo by Manki Kim / Unsplash)

In Los Angeles, there’s a transportation experiment underway. In this episode, Maylin Tu, Next City's Equitable Cities Reporting Fellow for Social Impact Design who lives in LA describes the stress of owning a car there coupled with the difficulty of navigating the city without a car. But in a sprawling city like LA, people have to have some way to get around.

Last May, the LA Department of Transportation and LA Metro launched its “mobility wallet,” the biggest Universal Basic Mobility experiment ever attempted in the U.S. Tu reported that in the first phase of the pilot, the agencies gave 1,000 South Los Angeles residents a debit card that comes with $150 per month to spend on transportation. The funds can be used to take the bus, ride the train, rent a shared e-scooter, take micro-transit, rent a car-share, take an Uber or Lyft, or purchase an e-bike. 

“I think the big thing that this project is transportation affordability. It’s actually something that we don’t talk about a lot. We talk about housing affordability,” says Madeline Brozen, deputy director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. “We use a lot of the tools of giving people income supports in other industries but we don’t think about it in transportation.” 

To learn more about lessons learned from the pilot so far and how cities and transit agencies can launch their own UBM programs, listen to this episode below or subscribe to the Next City podcast on Apple, Spotify, or Goodpods.

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