How to Outsmart LA Traffic Jams (Reed Saxon, AP)

Los Angeles is a city built around freeways and highways which generates some of the worst traffic congestion in the world. A 2014 study by TomTom compared travel times during peak periods of congestion with travel times during free-flow periods to determine congestion levels for cities worldwide. For Los Angeles, the study found a 39% congestion level, which corresponds to 39% longer travel times compared to a free-flow situation.* Among cities worldwide, L.A. (rank #10) was one of only two North American cities to make the top 10, Mexico City (Rank #2) being the other.

A new mobile app launched by GoLA is determined to shake up the way L.A. residents commute by linking all transit options together to offer an optimized route based on user preferences. The GoLA app allows users to prioritize their needs and travel to their destination using diverse transportation options such as Lyft, taxis, Zipcar, biking, and public transit based on the option that is the fastest, cheapest, or greenest. The app also allows users to track the carbon footprint and calories burned for their trips.

GoLA may not to be able to significantly reduce the number of cars on the road in L.A. but it can succeed in shifting the way L.A. residents think about commuting, while providing valuable data that can be used by the city of L.A. The user data can be useful in improving the placement of bike share stations and transit stops. The ability to select multiple disconnected transportation options into one central app makes it easy and convenient for commuters to choose the optimal route for their journey. Also, linking various transportation modes can potentially shift commuters from overcrowded modes and routes to underutilized options such as biking and public transit. If GoLA can successfully create a more enjoyable commuting experience in LA, then maybe similar apps will be created for other cities burdened by congestion.