VMT Mitigation Program Study

What is a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) mitigation program?

In California, Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) is the total miles traveled by vehicle. VMT is a measure of the transportation system’s impact on the climate, the environment, and human health. It also provides an indication of accessibility to economic and social opportunity, with lower VMT areas requiring less driving and generally providing better access to daily destinations such as jobs and services.
With the passage of Senate Bill 743 and adoption of VMT as the preferred transportation impact metric under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), projects that have significant VMT impacts are required to mitigate those impacts to the fullest extent feasible. Mitigation options have historically focused on on-site actions, such as providing reduced transit fares or cycling amenities to encourage less vehicle use. There is now growing interest in exploring options for larger-scale VMT mitigation programs that could fund a broader set of off-site actions and potentially result in more substantial VMT reductions over time. This may include VMT-based impact fees, VMT exchanges, or VMT banks.
Example calculation of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for one person in the course of a day.

CCTA VMT-Reduction Strategies

CCTA’s 2020 Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) identified and included a VMT mitigation program as part of a comprehensive strategy to increase use of active transportation modes, focus development at transportation-efficient locations, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Contra Costa County. A VMT mitigation program would also help CCTA and its member agencies with an important tool for implementing Senate Bill 743, which removed vehicle delay as a finding of significance under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and replaced the measure with VMT starting in July 2020.

CCTA applied for and was awarded a Caltrans Sustainable Communities Transportation Planning Grant in 2021 in order to study the development of a framework for a VMT Mitigation Program in Contra Costa County. CCTA retained Fehr & Peers to lead the Study, and a large stakeholder advisory group was formed to guide the Study. The goal of the Study was to test various Program options, including banks and exchanges, develop a cost for VMT in Contra Costa, and analyze strategies that could be funded, for their VMT-reduction effectiveness and feasibility. The Study was completed in February 2023, and a full report is available below.