Mobility: Vehicle Miles Traveled

Why is this a Climate Smart indicator?

  • In the last inventory for San José, transportation generated 63 percent of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the number of miles driven by cars in San José is key to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Reducing the number of miles driven by vehicles in San José will reduce traffic and the number of accidents.
  • Reducing the number of miles driven by vehicles in San José will reduce air pollution. This could make a big difference for households living near large roads, which are often low-income households.

What is the City doing to make progress on this indicator?


  • Adopt the San José Complete Streets Design Standards & Guidelines, describing a vision and best available practices for designing streets that are comfortable, safe and welcoming for all modes of travel.
  • Adopt the Transportation Analysis Policy to shift the focus of developments’ transportation improvements to pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities.
  • Adopt an ordinance and permit system to address safety and operational issues of e-scooters while facilitating their growth. The ordinance and permit system will be reviewed, and possibly updated, nine and 12 months after adoption. Implement the Sustainable Commute Incentive Pilot program to test the effectiveness of various incentive strategies for reducing drive-alone automobile trips.
  • Implement the Smart Moves San José program that encourages residents to increase their walking, biking and public transit trips. Outcomes from this program are now being evaluated.

In Progress

  • Develop the Better Bike Plan 2025 with a focus on strategies to increase bicycle usage.
  • Finalize and implement the Greater Downtown Bicycle Network.
  • Advance long-range transit projects that serve growth areas by developing plans and implementing them in conjunction with VTA and other cities.
  • Promote Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) through implementation of the Envision San José 2040 General Plan and urban village plans.
  • Partner with regional agencies on regional transportation solutions.
  • Develop the Access and Mobility Plan for San José.
  • Evaluate changes to parking requirements near transit to encourage increased use of public transit and to allow for greater densities.


  • Use big data and advanced analytics to develop innovative transport solutions.
  • Evaluate Transportation Demand Management and other transportation measures for their effectiveness in reducing VMT in San José.
  • Evaluate changes to the City’s Transportation Demand Management requirements.


  • Consider increasing the minimum acceptable densities so that land resources are not locked in to low-density patterns of development.
  • Regulate to get the most benefits from autonomous vehicles (AVs) by making driving alone in AVs more expensive.
  • Explore discounted or free transit for students, seniors and lower income residents.
  • Evaluate the potential for new logistics and commercial delivery models such as drone delivery, cargo bikes and pickup lockers.

About the data

Data Sources: Vehicle miles traveled per service population per day measures the amount of daily vehicle mileage traveled by an average resident or worker in the City of San José. VMT per service population per day was obtained from the City of San José’s Travel Demand Forecasting Model (San José Model). The San José Model was originally created using the Santa Clara County regional travel demand model maintained by the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA Model). The San José Model maintains the general inputs (roadway network, land use, trip generation rates, and other factors), structure and process of the VTA Model but with a finer level of detail within the City of San José. The model has been calibrated and validated based on traffic counts and transit ridership levels.

Data Limitations: The San José Model is updated every 4-5 years; VMT estimates from the model are so far only available for 2008 and 2015. We are currently researching other sources of VMT data that are updated more frequently. As part of the 2015 model, the home-based work person-trips distribution model was recalibrated based on the 2015 American Community Survey County to County travel flows. The American Community Survey includes a margin of error (MOE) for every estimate and that error would expand and propagate from the origin and destination input to the model outputs (VMT). In addition, VMT in the San José Model measures the amount of miles traveled on personal motorized vehicles (i.e., automobiles). It does not capture miles traveled by non-personal-motorized vehicles such as bicycles, trucks and public transit.

Data last updated: December 2018