US-101 between San Jose and San Francisco is lined by diverse communities and the major employment centers of Silicon Valley, but a persistent issue has plagued the corridor and its residents—congestion that is expected to worsen in the coming years.
Most commuters traveling along US-101 have little to no choice but to drive in the worsening gridlock due to the lack of convenient transportation options and the car-oriented built environment. There is hardly any express bus service along much of US-101, and buses on and off the corridor are stuck in the same traffic as everyone else. Furthermore, bus service on the parallel El Camino Real corridor is slow, Caltrain can be prohibitively expensive, and carpool lanes that do exist along the highway are disconnected and clogged, failing to incentivize high-occupancy trips.
The lack of fast, affordable and convenient transportation options along the Peninsula especially impacts parents, people working more than one job or who work irregular hours, and people with low or fixed incomes. Many people working in the service sector or for small employers along the corridor do not receive transportation benefits like workers at major tech campuses, and they are eager for improved transportation options.
For those who live adjacent to US-101, the highway contributes to poor air quality, noise pollution, and physical barriers between communities. But congestion and the one-person-per-car dominated nature of US-101 has consequences that hurt everyone, including businesses and employers, and those who commute to and visit the area from other cities and regions.
A New Way to Optimize our Highways
Recognizing these major and persistent issues, TransForm and seven public agencies are partnering on a corridor-wide US 101 Mobility Action Plan (MAP) to advance equity, provide more reliable travel times, improve high-capacity mobility options, and foster healthy and sustainable communities along the Highway 101 corridor. TransForm hopes this approach will result in meaningful benefits for residents and commuters along the corridor, serving as a national case study for an alternative to the costly, outdated, and counterproductive strategy of highway widening.
101 MAP public input took place in June and July 2019 and included a multilingual survey, stakeholder and technical advisory group meetings, and a series of public conversations to engage commuters, employers, and underrepresented groups. Then, the team and our advisors studied a set of policy changes and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures (non-infrastructure strategies such as incentives, information, or technology that help people commute without having to drive alone) to evaluate how well they could advance equity and other MAP goals.