2019 Grants Challenge
🎉 Finalist

Better Buses for LA

Our pop up bus lane project will empower Angelenos fed-up with traffic to change LA’s on-street reality and untangle buses from cars. This project team will leverage the trust the project team has built with elected officials and community members to launch a bus service for all that inexpensively removes people stuck in traffic.


Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Close your eyes and picture the last minivan commercial you saw. You may remember seeing a cleancut, youngish, but not too hip woman, handling life with ease behind the wheel. And that’s because our societal culture (and mainstream marketing) assumes, encourages, and expects women to be the primary members of the household that are running errands (trunk space!), managing kids’ travel needs (safety!), and making more trips because of it (mileage!). And more often than not, this is true. Of the few data points available for how women in the U.S. and Los Angeles travel, we know this: Women travel in similar modes than men, but travel shorter distances and make more trips. Women, particularly low-wage and shift workers, are also more likely to travel during off-peak hours (outside of the morning and evening “rush hour” periods). And minivan commercials aside, women are also more likely to use public transportation.

So why isn’t our transportation system better designed for half the population, who are making more trips? Investing in Place positions mobility needs of women and mothers as a transportation priority. We released a video about a mom’s travel on the bus, moderated several panels on women and transportation, and are working pro bono with Metro on a study to better understand how women travel. And just last month, our deputy director, Naomi Iwasaki advanced the conversation about women in transportation at the Mt. St. Mary’s Report on the Status of Women and Girls Release Event, which was attended by over 500 people including California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and California State Senator Holly Mitchell.

Our pop up bus lanes tangibly demonstrate the freedom of getting places without the aggravation of traffic. Bus only lanes connect communities and can transform the lived experience of everyone in LA, especially moms and their families who rely on public transportation in LA. We will leverage the successes of dedicated bus lane service like the Dodger Stadium Express -- which has carried over a million fans to Dodger Stadium since 2016 -- to show how dedicated bus lanes can get people to places quickly and reliably without needing a private automobile.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​​

Travel time to work

Number of public transit riders

Transit-accessible housing and employment

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

City of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to CONNECT?

Problem - If LA Metro’s bus system were a student, it would be repeatedly disciplined for being tardy. On a report card, Metro’s bus on-time performance statistic would earn Metro a C because only seven in 10 Metro buses pick-up passengers “on-time.” By Metro’s own data, this means three in 10 buses run late or, worse, don’t show up at all.

Solution - Investing in Place proposes to support an advocacy campaign for the implementation of dedicated bus lanes in the City of Los Angeles to speed up buses and improve their reliability. This partnership has a shared and intended relative short-term outcome of improving access for people riding the bus in the City of Los Angeles and thereby increasing public transit ridership. According to a report by the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, if 1 in 4 people who rarely or never ride transit replaced one driving trip with one transit trip every two weeks, annual ridership would grow by 96 million. The small change of dedicated bus lanes can result in an outsized impact by creating a more reliable, accessible, and faster transit experience for bus riders.

Timeline of Activities:

Phase I:

Form campaign work group

Conduct preliminary education, constituency-building, and corridor planning, including data collection and media engagement

Support selected project locations and community engagement partners

Phase II:

Conduct extensive outreach, education and build constituencies along selected dedicated bus lane locations and with political leaders

Develop performance monitoring dashboard

Engage with media outlets

Phase III:

Install 5 or more miles of dedicated bus lanes on peak hour-prohibited parking lanes in the City of Los Angeles by 2020

Conduct three-month performance review and develop post-installation report

Disseminate post-installation report findings to key decision-makers

We will utilize the following LA2050 Connect metrics:

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (LA2050): We will use community organizing strategies and data-driven advocacy to support regional transportation policy and funding decisions that enable implementation of dedicated bus lanes in the City of Los Angeles.

Travel time to work (LA2050): Dedicated bus lanes can produce significant travel savings. Recently installed pop up bus lanes in the City of Boston and Everett have reduced peak congestion travel times by 20-28 percent per a recent UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies.

Public transit riders (LA2050): The City of Denver found that ridership increases 2.8% in the first 6 months since installing their pop-up dedicated bus lanes per a recent UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies.

Transit-accessible housing and employment (LA2050): Transit improvements that serve both work and non-work trips, such as dedicated bus lanes, will enhance the connection between public transportation and daily origins and destinations.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Our partnership envisions improving access for people riding the bus in the City of Los Angeles. LA Metro, LADOT, and staff from the office of the Mayor Eric Garcetti have targeted implementing a bus lane by the end of the year (2019). Our #betterbusesforLA project team will complement and advance these efforts in more areas of Los Angeles.

Quantifiable goals to support this outcome include:

Install 5 or more miles of dedicated bus lanes on peak hour-prohibited parking lanes in the City of Los Angeles by 2020

Increase bus on-time performance in newly dedicated bus only lanes by 20% percent from one year earlier

Convene quarterly work groups with community stakeholders from project areas (frequency based on urgency)