Transit-First Policy

To provide a clarity for the community, an agency (usually a city) may wish to consider adopting a transit-first policy. This creates a policy foundation that supports transit-priority projects and provides clear direction to city staff. A sample framework for a transit-first policy is shown below. A city may choose to include some or all the framework elements.

The transit-first policy is outcomes-based and seeks to achieve some or all the following specific outcomes:

  • Make transit time-competitive with automobiles in transit corridors
  • Achieve x average speed during peak travel periods
  • Make x location accessible in y minutes from z location
  • Other city specific outcomes

The transit-first policy will be applied in one or more of the following ways to:

  • All transit corridors in the city
  • All corridors where frequent transit (15-minutes or better) operates
  • All corridors that serve x or more buses per hour [specify if counting one or both directions]
  • Corridors where the average peak period transit travel speed is below x miles per hour
Design Guidelines
Policy & Implementation
The Role of Local Government & Transit First Policies
Guiding Principles of Land Use
Flexible Zoning Strategies
Street Design Implementation
Revising Transportation Analysis Practices
Transportation Demand Management
Rethinking Vehicle Parking Requirements
Parking Management
Best Practices to Attract Successful Developers
Clarifying Design Expectations
Integrating Retail into Transit Oriented Development
Community Planning for Rail Transit
Additional Resources

The transit-first policy will be implemented in one of the following ways:

  • On a specific date

  • Following completion of a transit-first implementation study

  • As signals and/or pavement is replaced and street markings are updated

  • Other method that meets city needs

Eligible transit-first treatments include:

  • Dedicating street space to transit and/or emergency vehicles all day or during periods of high travel demand. For example, dedicated bus lanes, public service lanes, and in lane stopping.

  • Prioritizing transit at signalized intersections by programming signals to give approaching transit a green light or truncate other signal cycles to minimize the time transit spends waiting at red lights

  • Queue jump lanes at congested locations

Enforcement of the transit-first policy should include:

  • Ongoing collaboration with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to identify areas in need of improved transit priority

  • An [annual/biennial/etc.] report to council on whether the goals of the transit-first policy are being met as well as recommended changes, if appropriate.

  • Other enforcement methods relevant to the city

Adoption by city council and direction to staff to do one of the following:

  • Begin implementing transit-priority treatments on specific corridors

  • Begin work on a transit-first policy implementation plan
A push stop with a barrel and wood shelter.
VTA Bus Stop