Developing a Bus Rapid Transit strategic plan for San Jose and Silicon Valley, California

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bus rapid transit, economics - capital costs, infrastructure - bus/tram priority, infrastructure - traffic signals, planning - route design, ridership - growth


California, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), strategic plan


The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) of Santa Clara County, California, recently developed a bus rapid transit (BRT) strategic plan to establish a framework for BRT implementation, provide guidance on policy issues, and serve as a vehicle for community interaction. A multiphased evaluation process was applied to identify the most feasible near-term BRT corridors within the county, develop operating plans and infrastructure strategies, and select the preferred BRT operating and infrastructure strategies. Three corridors were prioritized for near-term BRT. The preferred operating strategy was forecast to generate 25,000 more daily riders in 2030 than the no-project scenario and showed promise to improve mobility along key arterials around San Jose, California. The BRT strategic plan was adopted by the VTA board of directors in mid-2009. VTA is moving forward with engineering and desk work on the three near-term corridors. This paper discusses the approach and processes adopted in the strategic plan that moved the BRT discussion forward. Cities in a similar incipient stage of BRT planning can heed key lessons learned to facilitate their own activities: establishing a coherent BRT vision and development process internally before reaching out to stakeholders, involving operations staff early in the development process to foster buy-in, holding frank discussions on maintaining local overlay service, and applying a specific process to develop a signature and unique BRT brand and service.


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