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Polco News & Knowledge

How LA Metro Impressed Residents With Its Budget Engagement Outreach

LA Metro Budget Engagement Picture of Transit Secutiry

LA Metro Transit Security helping a rider with directions.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority gathered useful resident feedback and educated riders about budget trade-offs using the Budget Simulation by Polco. 

It's not every day residents go out of their way to complement the budget, but that happened at the latest Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) board meeting. LA Metro received high praise for its community engagement efforts using the Budget Simulation by Polco, which they call My Metro Budget.  

Oren Ben-Joesph LA Metro Budget Engagement "We got a few comments like, 'Hey, we really like the My Metro Budget tool…I appreciate the transparency,’'' said Oren Ben-Joseph, Budget Director at LA Metro.

The goal of My Metro Budget was to collect resident feedback on how they would like the transit authority to allocate funding and improve LA’s transit system across the city. 

“This initiative is motivated by a commitment to listening to our riders and building a more effective, efficient, and customer-centric transit system,” said Andrew Madrid, Transportation Planner at LA Metro. 

The Budget Simulation transforms LA Metro’s 95-page budget book, not your typical summer beach read, into an interactive experience. The tool lets residents tweak funding allocations based on their preferences. It also explains why certain budget areas, like long-term projects or voter-mandated county taxes, are fixed.

LA Metro riders also learn more about the budget and its constraints through the process.

My Metro Budget Budget Simulation Screen shot budget engagement

Screenshot of the Polco's Budget Simulation (My Metro Budget) for LA Metro

"People don't usually understand that we actually have a lot of restrictions on how we can spend the money," Ben-Joseph said. "When we found Balancing Act [by Polco], one thing we really liked about it is its dual purpose. It's educational, and we can collect feedback, which is fantastic because those are two things we want to do."

The average rider spent 20 minutes with the tool. The deeper level of interaction means riders are providing more educated feedback for LA Metro. 

LA Metro Budget Director Giovanna GogreveFor this reason, LA Metro Budget Director Giovanna Gogreve said My Metro Budget is a great way to educate the public, and that educated and engaged residents are crucial for shaping a transit system that effectively serves everyone. “Teaching the future of LA's public transit system about Metro’s budget, system, and how tax dollars are spent fosters responsible ridership and better service in the future,” she said. 

And since this was the second year using the simulation, LA Metro can track trends and changes. 

Bus Lanes LA Metro Budget Engagement

LA Metro Budget Engagement Key Takeaways and Responses


Ben-Joseph said LA Metro was happy with the variety of people who submitted their budget choices. Over 80% of respondents ride LA Metro at least once per week. And around 35% of respondents come from households that make $25,000 or less.

 "It just goes to show how much those people rely on LA Metro and that we really need to make sure we focus on them because they are transit dependent,” Ben-Joseph said. 


The majority of respondents said they wanted to keep the budget the same. However, there were a few notable suggestions. 

My Metro Budget operations results from budget engagementMy Metro Budget operations results 


Over 22% of riders supported budget increases in rail and bus lanes. Around 25% supported decreasing the budget for green emissions initiatives and the Metro Micro pilot, which offers private rides similar to Uber in certain zones. 

In response, LA Metro is reducing the frequency of arrival time from 12 to 10 minutes for subway lines and 10 to eight minutes for light rail lines. Additionally, Metro is partnering with local municipalities to create more bus lanes and hopefully ease riders’ LA traffic pains. 

My Metro Budget safety results from budget engagement

My Metro Budget safety results 


Budget simulation users said they were more concerned with increasing mental health services and Metro Transit Security funding than traditional law enforcement and security. As a response, LA Metro is beefing up the Metro Transit Security budget and dedicating over $25 million to mental health support, such as crisis response teams and short-term shelters. 

My Metro Budget cleaning results from budget engagement

My Metro Budget cleaning results


Unsurprisingly, many riders also said they are willing to increase the cleaning budget for all types of transit. So, LA Metro increased the cleaning budget in most areas. Most notably, they are expanding their Station Experience Pilot, which includes enhancing lighting and airflow, activating the stations with vendors, and improving the fair gates. 

Homeless & Mental Health LA Metro Budget Engagement

LA Metro mental health and homeless services 

“The My Metro Budget activity is a crucial step in the budgeting process, as it provides valuable insights into the needs and priorities of our riders,” Madrid said. “The results are shared with all departments, allowing for a collaborative effort to incorporate feedback and improve decision-making.”

They shared the results with the public as well. The Los Angeles Transportation Authority is addressing nearly all the significant feedback from the simulation. To show riders their plan, LA Metro created an infographic describing what they learned and are doing about it. They posted the infographic on their Metro Budget information hub

That final step of reporting back to residents is essential in building transparency, trust, and more budget support from riders and LA Metro stakeholders. 

"The board of directors, which is made up of local politicians, county supervisors, the mayors— all really like this. They're the ones who told the Metro budget department to improve transparency and collect more feedback," Ben-Joseph said. 

"That's really what kicked off our search for software like Balancing Act [by Polco] to move away from a traditional survey. Now we're trying to improve transparency and impact the budget in a way that's tangible."

Ready to Get Started With Budget Engagement for Your Own Community? 

You can earn the same resident understanding for your city budget, just like LA Metro. With the Budget Simulation, you can collect data on community financial priorities while educating users about how the budget works and what actions are possible. Get the Budget Simulation to increase transparency, generate awareness, and garner support for financial decisions from your community! 

Request Infromation


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