Phillip A. Washington of LA Metro outlines ambitious ‘28 by 2028’ vision at Transports Publics show

 

Phillip A. Washington at Transports Publics 2018

 

With an ambitious plan to implement 28 “mega-projects” by 2028 and an open-ended $860m a year funding pot to back it up, Phillip A. Washington may have the best job in public transport.

The CEO of LA Metro spoke at last week’s Transports Publics 2018 exhibition in Paris, where the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority was the ‘Guest of Honour’.

Transport professionals around the world will look with envy at the ‘Measure M’ funding that will underpin Washington’s mission to make LA a global transportation centre of excellence. Backed by 71% voters in a 2016 plebiscite, this new half-cent sales tax will raise $860m a year.

We would not think of not funding education, because we know education is an ongoing need. We feel the same way about transportation

“We were bold enough to say that there should be no sunset,” said Washington. “There should be no end to that tax. Because transportation is an ongoing need. We would not think of not funding education, because we know education is an ongoing need. We feel the same way about transportation.”

SHOW REPORT: Ambition on display at Paris transport show

More than 11,000 people attended the biennial Transports Publics ‘European Mobility Exhibition’ in Paris last week. There was lots to see – including robots, hydrogen-powered bicycles and a driverless shuttle. But the overall message was one of ambition.

This message was embodied  by the ‘Guest of Honour’, LA Metro. The city which is known worldwide for its vast network of congested freeways wants to become known as a global leader in the realm of public transport.

Speaking at the event, Phillip A. Washington, CEO of LA Metro, explained how the transport authority intended to achieve this goal. Backed up with an $860m a year pot of ‘Measure M’ funding, plans to deliver 28 highway and transit “mega-projects” by 2028 – the year that Los Angeles will host the Olympic Games.

“This is the most ambitious and comprehensive voter-approved transportation programme in America,” he said.

Washington and his colleagues are seeking innovative solutions from the private sector.

“We’ve created an office that I call the Office of Extraordinary Innovation,” he said. “It’s not just the Office of Innovation, because that’s not extraordinary enough! It is the Office of Extraordinary Innovation, which says that we will look beyond our current circumstances and we will look beyond the traditional way of doing things to actually implement 28 projects in 10 years.”

He continued: “We are going to look at every project delivery method that has been invented and has not even been invented.”

To achieve this, Washington wants the private sector to pro-actively come forward with ideas rather than sit back and wait for tendering opportunities.

He concluded his presentation by likening this investment agenda to the Marshall Plan investment programme that rebuilt Europe after World War 2.

This is what we’re doing in Los Angeles County. Our version of a Marshall Plan, to leave an infrastructure inheritance for our children and grandchildren

“This is what we’re doing in Los Angeles County,” he said. “Our version of a Marshall Plan, to leave an infrastructure inheritance for our children and grandchildren.”

This ambition was reflected by the exhibitors at the show, many of whom were revealing new designs and propulsion technologies. This was embodied by the electric-powered ‘ie tram’ from Spain’s Irizar. This eye-catching articled trambus is for a BRT system in Bayonne, south-west France.

Iveco was meanwhile exhibiting its 500th Crealis vehicle, another fusion of tram and bus. It was one of 41 vehicles ordered by Transdev’s Tadao operation in the area that surrounds Lens, in the north of France. These 18-metre, hybrid-powered vehicles will operate on six BHNS corridors (which translates as bus to a high level of service).

In a wide-ranging project that also includes a redesign of the conventional bus network, Tadao aims to double the market share of buses in the region from 2% to 4% by 2025. To encourage modal shift, those aged 25 and under will be offered unlimited bus and train travel for just 5 a month.

The main French passenger transport groups – Keolis, RATP and Transdev – all exhibited at the show, each setting out competing visions of the future of multi-modal mobility.

All three groups have begun operating autonomous shuttles, but Transdev is claiming that
it will soon operate the first on-demand transport service using autonomous vehicles on the open road. Beginning this summer, the project will see one autonomous shuttle and four automonous Renault ZOE cars operate on three circuits of 10.5km in Rouen, northern France. Customers will be able to use an app to book shared journeys in the Madrillet Tech Cluster or to the tram station from the Cluster.

 
This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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