Policies & Initiatives

Learn More About Efforts to Support Sustainable Transportation

Local/Regional Policies

US-101 Express Lanes
To reduce traffic congestion and increase carpooling and transit use, Express Lanes are coming to US-101 in San Mateo County. Any high-occupancy vehicle carrying three or more passengers (carpools and transit) can travel in the Express Lane toll-free, while 2-person carpools pay a reduced toll and single-occupancy vehicles pay the full amount should they choose to ride in the Express Lane. The Express Lanes aim to enable travel speeds of at least 45 mph, and will utilize a dynamic toll pricing scheme to manage lane demand. Those who use the Express Lane must have the FasTrak Flex toll tag that indicates the car’s occupancy (1, 2, or 3+).

Assembly Bill 455 (Bay Bridge Fast Forward Program) – introduced February 2021
AB 455 sets a goal to speed up transit crossing the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to get more riders on transbay buses in order to reduce traffic congestion on the bridge and alleviate crowded BART trains. By January 2025, buses must be able to cross at 45 mph at least. Should local agencies responsible for meeting that goal fall short, a lane on the Bay Bridge must be dedicated as transit-only.

State Policies

Senate Bill 743
Passed in 2013 and effective 2020, SB 743 achieved a monumental change in planning policy by updating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the law establishing guidelines for assessing the environmental impact of new development projects. SB 743 mandated a change in how a project’s transportation impact on the environment is measured under CEQA. Instead of using a metric measuring time delay caused by traffic congestion, cities now must use the amount of driving (measured by vehicle miles traveled, or VMT).

Shifting the goal from managing traffic congestion to reducing the overall amount of driving will more effectively mitigate a project’s environmental impact. SB 743 aims to create communities in which Californians drive less while aligning planning practices with state climate change policies. It has tremendous potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion, encourage multi-modal transportation networks, and result in more efficient land use by supporting infill development and mixed-use properties.

Senate Bill 288

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for quick economic recovery, SB 288 exempts sustainable transportation projects such as bus rapid transit, bicycle lanes, and zero emission vehicle charging infrastructure from CEQA review beginning January 2021. The environmental review process often delays implementation of much-needed transportation infrastructure projects that support sustainable transportation modes. SB 288 aims to remove barriers that burden transportation projects while generating job opportunities to work on transit, bike, and pedestrian projects.

SB288 is scheduled to expire in January 2030.

California’s Parking Cash-Out Law

Some employers who subsidize their employees’ parking are required by state law to provide cash back to employees who forgo a parking space. The parking cash-out program is an effective trip reduction strategy that encourages employees to commute by transit, bicycle, walking, or carpooling, instead of driving alone. For more information about this law, click here.

Nationwide Initiatives

Vision Zero
Vision Zero is an initiative adopted by forward-thinking communities across the United States and globally as a direct response to the traffic-related tragedies occurring on our public streets. Originally introduced in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero policies have been introduced in American cities to reduce traffic fatalities and severe injuries, thereby creating safe, healthy, and equitable communities. For more information about Vision Zero, check out this factsheet or visit visionzeronetwork.org.

Cities in San Mateo County prioritizing Vision Zero:

  • Daly City – home to the county’s first Vision Zero Action Plan
  • East Palo Alto
  • Menlo Park
  • Redwood City
  • San Mateo
  • South San Francisco