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Vehicle Miles Traveled for Smarter Development



Let us explain.

As you’ll see in the photos shown, current transportation analysis gives the highly productive street on the left an F and the less productive street on the right an A. That’s going to change.

Our Jan 23 webinar reviews what these terms mean, as well as how VTA is helping cities and the County of Santa Clara adapt. These changes are prompted by a new(ish) California law that encourages smarter land use and transportation choices.

The state is developing guidelines to help decision makers and planners better evaluate the environmental impacts of land use decisions under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The act requires that decision makers analyze, consider and address the impacts of land use, transportation and other projects.

These changes will help California achieve its ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Level of Service

No longer will CEQA transportation analysis focus on “Level of Service” (LOS), a measure of traffic delay at certain points like intersections.

There are many downsides to over-emphasizing LOS that the Governor's Office of Planning and Research has documented:
  • Encourages sprawl
  • Inhibits transit and active transportation
  • Forces over-building of roadways with high maintenance costs
  • Bad for the environment
  • Bad for public health and safety

Vehicle Miles Traveled

Instead, California cities, counties and Congestion Management Agencies like VTA will look at how a development would affect “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT), the overall amount of driving across the system.
Projects that would increase VMT per person would need to take measures to mitigate those additional miles driven.

Projects that would decrease VMT per person, such as transit projects or bike lanes, would be easier to implement.

How Do I Watch?

The webinar was held on Jan 23 from 10-11 am on VTA’s YouTube Channel and has been archived.

In the webinar, Rob Swierk, AICP, VTA Principal Transportation Planner and our resident expert on this major policy shift, explains:
  1. VTA’s role as the county’s Congestion Management Agency
  2. The benefits of using VMT and drawbacks of LOS, and how each is measured
  3. How VTA is helping cities adapt to the new state law
Watch the Vehicle Miles Traveled for Smarter Development webinar. Download the presentation slides.

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