January 20, 2022
Final Reports
San Mateo Courts - Civil Grand Jury 1998 Final Report: San Mateo County Transit District (Samtrans) Long Range Planning
Background | Findings | Recommendations

The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) is responsible for the operation and maintenance of a 318-bus system and 50-vehicle paratransit service serving San Mateo County, northern Santa Clara County, San Francisco, and portions of the East Bay. In addition to the bus service, SamTrans administers the San Mateo County Transportation Authority’s 20-year, $800 million highway and transit improvement program and Caltrain’s 66-train service between Gilroy and San Francisco.

SamTrans has been actively participating in the Bay Area Rapid Transit System’s BART-SFO Extension. The Millbrae Avenue terminus will serve as a major intermodal transportation facility by providing connections to BART, Caltrain, SamTrans buses, Redi-Wheels, and shuttle buses.

SamTrans is responsible for 35 shuttle routes linking rail stations to employment centers throughout San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.

Over the past few years, the District has developed several plans specifically addressing each mode. SamTrans is currently developing a long-range strategic plan that will consolidate all earlier specific plans into one comprehensive long-range planning document.

The long-range strategic plan supplements the District short-range plan, required by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). The MTC is responsible for State and Federal requirements placed on various funding programs. There are no requirements for long-range plans.


Congestion continues to worsen in San Mateo County. Creation of jobs far exceeds construction of new and affordable housing, and will result in the need to import a work force from neighboring counties. In addition, there is a significant number of employed residents who commute outside the county to their jobs.

It is recognized that the capital-intensive nature of transportation systems requires long lead times between plan conception and implementation. Capital formation, system design, and construction should be planned well enough in advance to accommodate San Mateo County’s future changes in demographics, travel patterns, and employment centers. It is critical to the economic health of San Mateo County businesses and to the environmental health of its citizens that SamTrans continues expeditiously in completing the long-range strategic plan.

Recommendation 56: SamTrans’ comprehensive 20-year Long Range Plan being formulated at this time should explore the use of new, innovative technologies not entirely dependent on fossil fuels. SamTrans should also direct their representatives to the MTC and Joint Powers Authority to advocate a more comprehensive two-stage plan addressing this issue.
Recommendation 57: If feasibility studies prove positive, it is recommended to the SamTrans Board, the Transportation Authority and the City/County Area Government Board that BART’s extension to the southern bay-side border of San Mateo County be part of the SamTrans Long Range Plan, and instruct their representatives to the SamTrans Board to include this extension in their plan. Otherwise, alternative mass transit systems, including high speed railway should be considered.
Recommendation 58: SamTrans should implement a joint effort to develop strategies to eliminate congestion in the major traffic corridors, including innovative rapid transit between parking structures adjacent to the major freeway, and community agreements to phase traffic improvements with new developments.


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