Group Photo of Spring 2023 Policy Research Internship Project “Making Public Transit Attractive in a Hybrid World” with Metrolink
Group Photo of Spring 2023 Policy Research Internship Project “Making Public Transit Attractive in a Hybrid World” with Metrolink

Spring 2023: “Making Public Transit Attractive in a Hybrid World” with Metrolink

For the Spring 2023 semester, our POSC 395 Policy Research Internship students explored how a hybrid workforce impacts the future growth of a major regional transportation agency. Students focused particularly on the ridership experience of Gen Z riders. Students also researched best practices from across the USA and globally on how to build a ridership community and how to meet other needs of modern riders. In addition, students delved into sustainability issues to assess the impact of Metrolink’s growth on California’s air quality goals. They presented their extensive research and recommendations to our partner, Metrolink. The nation’s third largest commuter rail system, it serves six Southern California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, and San Diego.

Celine De Villa, a junior majoring in Political Science, said this about her research experience:

“I had the opportunity to work with a research group for Metrolink. This worthwhile experience allowed me to expand my network and gain new friendships. The mentorship and guidance I received during my research helped me build confidence in my academic abilities and public speaking skills. I gain insights into the latest trends and technologies that allowed me to be successful during my research. Researching with CPF and Metrolink was a valuable experience in my professional development. Special thank you to Steph, Professor Auerbach, and my Metrolink research team for a great semester together!”

Project: Metrolink: Growing Ridership

USC Students: Lydia Costantian, Celine De Villa, Chelsey Nguyen, Adrian Salguero Guevara, Brandon Tran, and Alvin Wong

Research Question: How might we help Metrolink grow their ridership, especially among Gen Z?

Policy Recommendations:

  1. Partnerships
    • Expand partnerships available for SoCal Explorer

    • Enable the additional feature of linking loyalty programs together

    • Assemble teams needed to revamp the SoCal Explorer program

  2. Marketing
    • Obtain Instagram verification

    • Collaborate with micro influencers and hire Gen Z interns

    • Display advertisements within trains

    • Improve merchandise designs

  3. Untapped Riders
    • Prioritize investing in infrastructure

    • Promote safety strengths

    • Expand service by adding more train time

  4. User Experience
    • Include more map visualizations

    • Streamline the process of purchasing tickets

    • Improve the mobile experience and invest in comprehensive mobile app

Read the group’s full research presentation.

Watch the video presentation on “Making Public Transit Attractive in a Hybrid World.”