Commute  Vehicle Miles Traveled

Sustainability Goals

Workers are able to conveniently reach their jobs via a variety of low-carbon transportation choices, including public transit, walking, biking, and ride-sharing.


San Mateo County’s central location between two major employment hubs and a lack of affordable housing on the peninsula requires cross-county commuting. On a given work day, over 400,000 workers commute into, out of, and within San Mateo County, placing tremendous stress on our aging transportation infrastructure. Commuters also pass through San Mateo County to reach jobs in San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties. The resulting traffic congestion lengthens commute times, reduces worker productivity, and increases air pollution.

  • In 2015, 146,988 residents of San Mateo County were employed within the county, while 221,947 residents were employed outside the county.
  • The number of workers that commute into the county increased from 183,885 in 2006 to 240,944 in 2015, an increase of 30% over time. Whereas, the total number of jobs in San Mateo County only increased by 20% between 2006 and 2015.
  • In 2013, southbound single occupancy drivers traveling in the morning were on highway 101 an average of 11 minutes longer, an increase of 46% compared to 2009.
  • In January 2015, Caltrain had the highest ridership of all the public transportation modes in the county with 59,916 passengers per week. Commute times are faster on bullet trains and 16 bullet trains make 92 stops in San Mateo County each morning.
  • In 2016 there was a slight increase in the number of commuters that drove alone, up from 68% in 2015.
  • Compared to 2013, the number of people who work from home increased by 25%.
  • The number of commuters that travel by Taxi increased by 188% between 2016 and 2015, while the number of bicycle riders decreased by 8% (included in the “Other” category).
  • Compared with the United States, San Mateo County has a larger share of transit commuters and a lower share of those driving alone.
  • San Francisco County, with its extensive public transit system and dense development near work, has dramatically different commute modes: only 36% of San Francisco commuters drive alone, while 36% take transit.
  • BART and Caltrain ridership has continued to increase, both operators saw a 3% increase compared to the year prior.
  • SamTrans average ridership declined after the recession resulting in a decrease in service.
  • There was a 4% increase in the use of shuttles for commuting between 2015 and 2016.

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Vehicle Miles Traveled

Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) is the total number of miles driven by all vehicles in a given time period and geographical area. Factors influencing VMT include population, the state of the economy, personal income, number of registered vehicles per person, and fuel costs. Vehicle Fuel Consumption (VFC) is the total gasoline and diesel fuel usage on all public roads in a given time period, and it is influenced by VMT and fuel efficiency of vehicles.

Updated November 2017
  • Though both vehicle miles traveled and vehicle fuel consumption have increased since the economic downturn of 2008, fuel consumption has leveled in recent years with increased fuel efficiency.
  • Gas prices will increase in California in 2017 after implementation of the state approved gas tax, which will provide funding for road improvements, public transit, expanded bike lanes, and traffic congestion relief.

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Bay Area Air Quality Management Website. (2016). Retrieved from

California Air Resources Board EMFAC Database. (2016). Retrieved from

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From the 2017 Indicators Report

Between 2010 and 2015, the average rental cost rose by 49% and the median house sale price rose by 52% in San Mateo County.

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‟When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”—John Muir