El Camino Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Phasing Study

SamTrans is conducting a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Phasing Plan Study that will identify the optimal features for enhanced bus service for the 26-mile El Camino Real corridor from Daly City in the north to the Palo Alto Transit Center in the south. The study, which will include extensive opportunities for public comment and input, will look at what low-cost operational improvements can provide faster bus service in the next few years while also analyzing the value of more capital-intensive improvements such as dedicated bus lanes and improved transit stations in the long-term. This is a study only. No decisions have been made about what options to pursue.

SamTrans will develop a phasing plan that will identify how existing bus operations in the corridor can be enhanced to incorporate these components, based on population, employment densities and ridership demand.

What is Bus Rapid Transit?
BRT is an enhanced bus service that offers faster speeds, shorter travel times and improved customer amenities.  BRT performance is facilitated by operational and physical elements that can include some or all of the following elements:

  • Limited or skip-stop service (longer stop spacing than local routes)
  • Queue jumps and bulbouts (street and sidewalk configurations that allow buses to bypass traffic)
  • Bus signal priority (buses trigger shorter red or extended green lights)
  • Dedicated bus-only lanes
  • Low-floor or multiple door buses
  • Off-board fare collection
  • Enhanced stations with passenger amenities such as weather protection, additional seating and real-time information
  • Unique branding of service/vehicles

What’s the Difference Between Rapid and Bus Rapid Transit?
BRT can generally be implemented in two ways based on level of investment: Rapid (minimal capital investment) and full BRT (significant capital investment).  The main characteristics of Rapid and full BRT services are listed below:


  • Buses operate in regular lanes with mixed traffic
  • Limited or skip-stop service
  • Queue jumps
  • Bus signal priority
  • Branded service/vehicles
  • Enhanced bus stops (i.e. shelters)

Full BRT:

  • Dedicated bus lanes
  • Higher degree of enhancements (i.e. station ticketing machines)
  • Enhanced stations with passenger amenities (i.e. real-time information) 

El Camino Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Phasing Plan Study
The purpose of the study is to develop a phasing plan that will identify how existing bus operations in the corridor can be enhanced to incorporate Rapid- and BRT-type amenities over time, appropriate for population and employment densities and ridership demand.  Goals of the study include:

  • Improving the passenger experience for existing customers and attracting new riders
  • Promoting livability and commercial viability
  • Maintaining cost effective operations
  • Minimizing traffic and parking impacts

Additionally, the study will develop the following:

  • Market/transit demand analysis
  • Conceptual transit service alternatives
  • Stakeholder awareness
  • Capital and operational cost estimates
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Funding strategy
  • Existing and future network integration plan
  • Phasing and implementation plan

Specific phases of transit improvements have already been identified for the short- and long-term.  The short-term strategy includes Rapid-type improvements while the long-term strategy would identify the feasibility of upgrading Rapid service to more closely resemble full BRT. 

The section of El Camino Real being studied is a highly travelled corridor, averaging more than 29,000 vehicle trips each day. It is anticipated that congestion in the corridor will only increase as San Mateo County’s population, job market and number of households is projected to increase by roughly 30 percent by 2040. With increasing densities and planned development along El Camino Real, this is an opportune time to develop a Rapid/full BRT phasing plan so SamTrans can be better prepared to meet the needs of current and future transit customers as well as support the vision of the Grand Boulevard Initiative and other planning initiatives. Transit improvements would complement planning efforts that could help promote walkable environments, spur revitalization and promote economic development in the corridor.

Public Outreach
Presentations to city councils, as well as public and private stakeholder organizations were scheduled from October through December 2013.  In addition, two public workshops were held in November 2013 to solicit public input on the phasing plan study.  Additional outreach will take place in summer/fall 2014.

For a full list of public meetings and workshops please click HERE

Project Documents
Click HERE for project documents.

Click HERE for additional contact information or to leave us a comment.

10/17/13 - rph