Annual Evaluation Shows The Pickup’s Ridership Continues to Grow

The Pickup (Photo by Joshua Barash)

An annual evaluation of West Hollywood’s The Pickup shuttle service shows ridership has continued to increase since its launch in 2014.

The Pickup offers free rides on Santa Monica Boulevard from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 2 to 10 p.m. on Sundays and on certain holidays. Its goal is to reduce incidents of driving while intoxicated by providing transportation to areas where bars and restaurants are congregated.

According to a report presented to the City Council on Monday night, “during fiscal year 2018, The PickUp operated on 158 days (52 Fridays, 53 Saturdays, 51 Sundays, and two Tuesdays) and provided 90,681 trips — 5,781 more trips than in fiscal year 2017. On average, 1,640 passenger trips were provided each weekend. For comparison, in fiscal year 2017 the service provided an average of 1,530 trips per weekend.”

The report states that “2018 operating and marketing costs for The PickUp totaled $586,664. Operations expenses accounted for 91% of program costs and include vehicles and drivers and hardware purchases. Marketing costs accounted for 9% of program expenses and include graphic design services and the creation of content for The PickUp’s social media pages, ads and printing costs.”

The average cost per passenger per trip was $6.47, which the report says “compares favorably with other small public transit operations.”

The report states that a survey of riders of The Pickup in September 2017 showed that 93% of riders were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the service. Suggestions for improvements included running on additional days and hours, arriving at stops more frequently and better publicizing the shuttle service.

Increasing the Sunday run to midnight, which some users have recommended, would require two shifts of workers from American GTS, the contractor that provides the drivers, which would not be financially feasible. However, the city is recommending starting the Friday and Saturday runs at 7 p.m., an hour earlier than the current 8 p.m. start time.

The staff report recommends revising the brand design and the city has contracted with Symblaze Inc., which created the original design for The Pickup, to refresh it. Symblaze is proposing replacing the current cartoon-like characters on the outside of the shuttles with images of real West Hollywood people. Symblaze intends, it says in a presentation, to “Make it as gay as original PickUp- or gayer … Make it as racy as original PickUp- or racier …Maybe add more nuance & sophistication.”

Illustration of proposed design by Symblaze.

However City Council members John Heilman and Lauren Meister questioned doing that without consulting with the Council on the proposed design changes. Meister noted that the survey conducted by Symblaze of riders found many of them generally satisfied with the look. “If it ain’t broke, we shouldn’t fix it,” she said.

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Horatio
Horatio
4 years ago

I think the Pick Up is a great service and I have used it several times. I do enjoy the convenience of it, but I have definitely waited more than 15 minutes for the trolley to head east anytime after 12:30 AM. Often times I have had more luck with the bus that late at night because it comes more reliably. It would be nice to more female representation if they really are rebranding the materials and women who look like lesbians that aren’t only feminine. Diversity matters and gay men and femmes aren’t all that compromises West Hollywood’s GLBT… Read more »

Drew Pokorny
Drew Pokorny
4 years ago

I’ve lived just off San Vicente and SMB for nearly a decade and observed that The Pick-Up is widely used during prime hours of the evening. I personally have used it to come home from Marix or visit friends outside of my neighborhood. It’s smart public transportation that connects our city from end to end. I don’t always agree with our City Council but this is one program that works.

Weho Fan
Weho Fan
4 years ago

Have never seen anyone ride these. See empty Pickups drive by all the time. Why are we spending money on this program?

Eric Schmidt
Eric Schmidt
4 years ago
Reply to  Weho Fan

Because the City spends money like drunken Sailors without any oversight or accountability,
While not spending money where it’s needed.

Skills?
Skills?
4 years ago
Reply to  Eric Schmidt

And now you claim financial expertise as well as negotiating skills on the resume written in invisible ink?

Randy
Randy
4 years ago
Reply to  Eric Schmidt

This program is great, and it doesn’t cost that much in the grand scheme of things, compared to the city’s surplus. Why not give something back to residents and visitors? As I’ve said here many times before, no matter what, if the city spends money on anything, there will be those who complain, and say it is a “waste of money.” This program reduces traffic congestion, alleviates some need for parking, and yes, has kept more than one person from drinking and driving. It has also probably contributed to the amount of money spent in the city by visitors/tourists. Money… Read more »

Erik Jon Schmidt
Erik Jon Schmidt
4 years ago
Reply to  Randy

Ok, I agree with that, but why not also spend money where it is needed like traffic slowing on Fountain and improved crosswalks?

Randy
Randy
4 years ago

They are spending money on improvements. Yeah, it is moving slow, and there is room for criticism on that. Eric, all due respect, but as someone who is running for City Council, do you pay attention to all of the local news through this site? Are you engaged in community meetings? Are you a member of any boards or commissions? Your campaign site says that you “have lived in West Hollywood for almost 20 years. ” Yet you also say you were a resident of Las Vegas. It is confusing. How long, and for what periods of time, have you… Read more »

Joshua88
Joshua88
4 years ago

Done and done, Mr Schmidt.

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