‘Way too many people’ are driving alone in Los Angeles, metro CIO says

Unsurprisingly, the Greater Los Angeles region, home to some 19 million people, has among the worst traffic in the country. Joshua Schank, chief innovation officer of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, says it’s his office’s top priority to find new policies and technologies that encourage more people to carpool or find another mode of transit.

“We’re facing a pretty tremendous problem in Los Angeles, which is that way too many people are driving alone,” Schank tells StateScoop in a video interview. “So our number one priority is to reduce the number of people driving alone and double the number of people using other modes besides driving alone, which includes buses and trains but is not limited to that. It can also include biking, walking, any number of other ways of getting around that aren’t just people driving alone.”

Los Angeles has the worst traffic in the country, according to a ranking published last year by the navigation technology company TomTom, which indexes cities based on factors like congestion level, which is 45 percent for Los Angeles, and average commute time, which is more than 30 minutes for LA residents. The company’s data also found that just 3.5 percent of Los Angeles residents walk to work and only 10 percent use public transit.

Schank said his office is hoping to encourage greater use of alternate modes of transit by setting benchmarks for access. The city is aiming to provide all residents with access to a “high-quality mobility option” within a 10 minute walk of their residence, with a maximum of a 15-minute wait time for service.

“That’s putting a pretty strong priority on ubiquitousness of mass transit and where we want to be in the next 10 years,” he said.

Schank on how emerging technology is changing his role:

Schank on the future of technology-driven technology:

Schank on how he sees his role changing in the future:

These videos were recorded at the Smart Cities New York conference in May 2019.