By Susan Motander
The Monrovia City Council voted Tuesday evening to move forward with the two proposed public private partnerships that will drive (or in one case give wheels to) a new public transportation system. The city is entering into partnerships with both Lyft and LimeBikes to provide alternate sources of transportation within the city and the immediate environs without neglecting those with disabilities.
The city hopes to encourage better connection between the Gold Line station near Duarte Road and the Old Town, along Myrtle Avenue several block to the north, and between the high-tech companies on both the east and west side of Huntington Drive with the shopping at Huntington Oaks and the new apartment complexes on both the west end of Huntington and near the Station Square.
The new program that should be rolled out next month will involve three prongs. Monrovia Transit will still assist those with disabilities as it has the ability to accommodate wheelchairs. The other two are very different: Lyft and Lime Bike.
Lyft will supply point-to-point transportation in the city for only 50¢ a ride. During discussion, City Manager Oliver Chi explained that Lyft would carry as many as 4 people on that 50¢ ride.
The statistic presented to the council both at the study session a month ago and the council meeting Tuesday showed the old Dial-a-Ride Program was not cost effective. Every trip cost the city an average of $19.20 per ride. Most of them were less than a mile or two.
The City had relied on its Monrovia Transit system. The City owned, paid for the vehicles and contracted for their drivers, but patronage was low. Usually only those who had no other source of transportation used the system. It was especially helpful to those with disabilities as the Transit vehicles had wheelchair lift capability. Those who used it regularly complained to the council about scheduling and service (with the noticeable exception of one driver, Oscar, whom everyone seemed to love).
The City review showed that Lyft rides cost between $5 and $6 as opposed to the Monrovia Transit cost of $19.60 per trip. The City has estimated the increased savings would cover the cost of the Lyft program.
The LimeBike program will cost the city nothing. The company will supply the bikes and will indemnify the city completely. The cost of the smart-phone accessible bikes will be $1 for the first hour and 50¢ per hour thereafter. There are reduced rates for students.
Council Member Alex Blackburn looking at the obviously “girl’s bike” with a large basket on the front handlebars, asked innocently, “Are there men’s bikes available?”
Despite the one reservation, the council voted to support the program that will be subject to review monthly, although Chi explained the plan called for the program to run through at least June of this year. Monrovia plans to roll out the Go Monrovia program next month. More information will be available in the next few weeks.