Fast Transit Program

The Fast Transit Program is an agency-wide effort to make transit faster, more reliable, and ultimately more useful for Santa Clara County travelers.

The program will help identify where and how transit priority, streamlining, and policy changes can benefit service throughout the system, with a focus on VTA's most frequent routes. Such improvements can help make transit an attractive mode choice for people to travel to work, school, and daily needs, and can also help Santa Clara County cities meet their mobility goals all while helping to reduce VTA’s operating costs. 

The Program has...

The Fast Transit Program is an agency-wide effort to make transit faster, more reliable, and ultimately more useful for Santa Clara County travelers.

The program will help identify where and how transit priority, streamlining, and policy changes can benefit service throughout the system, with a focus on VTA's most frequent routes. Such improvements can help make transit an attractive mode choice for people to travel to work, school, and daily needs, and can also help Santa Clara County cities meet their mobility goals all while helping to reduce VTA’s operating costs. 

The Program has three major components:

  1. The development and adoption of a transit speed policy that represents VTA’s commitment to work internally and with local jurisdictions to improve transit speed and reliability
  2. A comprehensive examination of the causes of VTA’s declining speeds and reliability culminating in a report summarizing problems and recommendations
  3. An endorsed program of context-sensitive short- and long-term speed improvement projects and locations to help advance project development

Why does VTA need the Fast Transit Program?

VTA’s average transit speed is slowing

The average speed of VTA’s transit vehicles has declined 20% over the past 30 years. When transit speeds decline, on-time reliability suffers, and transit becomes less appealing to riders.

Furthermore, slowing routes become increasingly more expensive to operate since VTA must add more buses and trains to maintain the same frequency of service. This is especially concerning on VTA’s highest ridership routes in the frequent network, which are among the slowest in the system, particularly during peak periods. If the average speed of the frequent network improves by just 1 mile per hour, it would reduce annual operating costs by over $15M per year.

Causes of slowing speeds

While increased congestion slows down transit the same way it impacts low capacity vehicles, transit vehicles suffer from many other sources of delay that compound along the route and are difficult to recover from such as frequent stopping to pick up and drop off passengers, then merging back into traffic or waiting at signals to access a bus stop.

Solutions for slowing speeds

Through the Fast Transit Program, VTA intends to work with local jurisdictions to explore and pilot potential solutions to slowing transit, such as transit signal priority to help provide more green lights for buses; balance bus stop spacing to efficiently pick up and drop off passengers, expedite boarding to reduce the time spent at a stop, and short bus lanes to help move buses through the most congested areas. Ultimately, success of faster transit relies on close coordination and partnership with the cities in which VTA operates.

Early Speed and Reliability Deliverables

In conjunction with the ongoing Fast Transit Program speed and reliability analysis, VTA is actively developing pilot projects focused on testing transit signal priority (TSP) technology for the potential to help expand TSP in Santa Clara County.

Project Updates