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.

Indicator Overview

San Mateo County’s central location between two major employment hubs in San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties and a lack of affordable housing on the peninsula means that the county has high levels of cross-county commuting. On a given work day, over 500,000 workers commute into, out of, and within San Mateo County, placing tremendous stress on our aging transportation infrastructure. The resulting traffic congestion lengthens commute times, reduces worker productivity, and increases air pollution.


  • Over 144,099 people commute into San Mateo County from neighboring counties and 147,902 residents commute out.
  • Commuters come to the county from all over the state and the nation and vise versa.
  • In 2013, 350 people commuted from San Mateo County to Los Angeles County, while 705 commuters travel from Los Angeles to San Mateo County.
  • 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.
  • Compared to 2013, the number of people who work from home increased by 25% and the number of commuters who drove alone decreased by 3% in 2015.
  • The “Other” category increased by 50%, and includes bicycles (5,240 commuters), motorcycles (880 commuters), and other means (4,260 commuters).
  • The transit category includes bus, trolley, streetcar, subway, railroad, and ferry.
  • 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 33% take transit.
  • BART and Caltrain ridership has continued to increase, 2% and 3% respectively, from the year prior.
  • SamTrans average ridership declined after the recession resulting in a decrease in service.

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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.

  • Though both vehicle miles traveled and vehicle fuel consumption have increased since the economic downturn of 2008, fuel consumption has leveled in recent years.
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  • Between 2014 and 2005, gas prices increased by 48%.

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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

Annual per capita greenhouse gas emissions in California have dropped by 14% from a peak in 2001 of 14.0 metric tons per person to 12.0 metric tons per person in 2013.

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