You don’t have to be Elon Musk to pitch an idea for improving mobility in Los Angeles. Say you have an innovative idea for helping Angelenos get around the region. Who do you talk to?
Well, if you have major Silicon Valley venture capital support, or if you are a solo inventor, you could pitch your idea to Joshua Schank.
Schank is Chief Innovation Officer at Metro, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and he heads a department there called the Office of Extraordinary Innovation. DnA visited Schank at his downtown office and learned about their three-pronged program for private-public partnerships, which seeks outside ideas for: faster, cheaper delivery of major transportation projects; strategic planning of the network; and improvements through technology of transportation in Los Angeles.
He explains some of the 90 unsolicited proposals so far received, including drones that would inspect facilities and track; better provision of parking for bikes at stations and an Uber-style partnership for taking people to and from stations.
We also talk about how these private-public collaborations work as well as “ordinary” innovations that might make the system extraordinary: easier access to TAP cards (soon to be available via an app), amenities at stations that might make them more attractive and safe.
An Orange Line Metro bus. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.