101 Managed Lanes project – more attention on high-occupancy lanes than high-occupancy use

Earlier this month, Caltrans hosted two community workshops on progress on a project to smooth transportation on the 101 corridor.

Based on information presented at the meeting, the team has put more attention and skill into designing the lanes themselves than in ensuring that the lanes will be used by non-solo drivers to improve throughput and relieve congestion.

The presentation mentioned several challenges, including avoiding taking homes and businesses near the highway, and getting commuters to change behavior to increase the use of carpools and transit.

The project team put a lot of attention to the first challenge, designing a option to add a lane to the highway without taking homes and businesses near the highway, by connecting the current “auxiliary lanes”, and moving and narrowing the median.


Although, even if it was possible to add a lane without expanding the right-of-way, the study so far shows that some of the access roads are at capacity. If adding a lane attracts more drivers, that will add to backups on Ralston, 3rd, and Woodside.

But the study said very little about adding services and policies that would help commuters avoid solo driving.  The team mentioned a SamTrans express bus service, but had no specifics yet.  What combination of express buses, carpool apps (Scoop, Waze), van services (Chariot), commute concierge help, and other such services and policies (lower parking subsidy?)  would help the most people avoid driving alone and help more people commute smoothly?


In Los Angeles, the tolls from managed lanes were used to improve the frequency on a highway bus from 30 minutes to 3 minutes, and ridership jumped 3x.

Once the managed lanes have been constructed on 101, there needs to be an entity to take the tolls, and decide what to use the revenues for, which could include helping people use high-occupancy modes.  But – the presenters said – in our region, there hasn’t been any decision made about what entity would be in charge of gathering revenue and making decisions about high-occupancy services.

There are important open questions about:

  • Providing high-occupancy services, so that the managed lane can move more people
  • Induced demand – the risk that adding lanes will pull drivers from other routes (like 280) and other modes (like transit), and rapidly bring back congestion
  • If lanes are added, how would access streets (Ralston, Woodside) function
  • How can the system be available to people at all income levels

For ideas, on these and other challenges –  including innovative examples from other regions – and information about how to make more room on Caltrain as well, come learn about vision to ease the commute pain and ask a panel of experts how our region can overcome obstacles.

Caltrain/101 Corridor Vision

In Palo Alto:
Wednesday, June 28 6:00-8:00 pm
Mitchell Park Library – 3700 Middlefield Road, Adobe Room
Click here to RSVP

In Redwood City,
Wednesday, July 19, 6:30-8:30pm
Redwood City City Hall
Click here to RSVP

Ratna Amin, Spur
Chris Lepe, Transform
Brian Shaw, Stanford Parking and Transportation