El Camino Real Transit Signal Priority Project

The SamTrans Transit Signal Priority (TSP) project is underway on El Camino Real. Once installation and testing period is complete, TSP will help reduce travel times for SamTrans buses on El Camino Real by allowing green lights to be extended for buses running behind schedule.

To achieve this, sensors installed on the bus send a radio signal to a sensor connected to the traffic light, which can hold the green light or turn a red to green sooner, to allow the bus to pass through. The maximum time the system can extend a green light will be no longer than 10 seconds at each intersection.

The goal of TSP is to improve SamTrans’ on-time performance by reducing bus delays at intersections in order to provide more reliable service. Vehicles on cross streets should experience negligible impacts. Emergency vehicles will always take priority over the signal request from the bus and Caltrans can override the system if needed due to unusually heavy traffic.

SamTrans is working in coordination with Caltrans and the 12 cities along 26 miles of El Camino Real in San Mateo County to install the TSP equipment in traffic controller cabinets at intersections. Installations will occur during off-peak hours (10:00 am to 3:00 pm), with little disruption to vehicle, pedestrian and bike traffic. There are no anticipated lane closures on El Camino Real or its cross streets associated with this project. During the testing period, TSP will be in place on all ECR buses but, once testing is successful, the system will be limited to buses that are behind schedule.

The first installations began in San Mateo in December of 2019. Once completed, 125 intersections along El Camino Real and 161 SamTrans buses will be equipped with signal priority equipment.

Project Timeline:

  • Installation: Fall 2019 to Summer 2020
  • System Testing: 2021 (6-9 months)
  • Final Completion: Fall 2021

Budget: $3,907,000

  • Federal Grants $3,459,000
  • Local Funding $448,000


For more information, please email construction@samtrans.com or call SamTrans customer service at 1-800-660-4287.