Transportation Element

The State requires this Element to address transport of people and goods and related infrastructure such as streets and highways, truck and transit routes, bus and rail stations, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and airports. Its policies take into account the physical, social, and economic effects of circulation, as well as regional impacts and coordination needs. The Element supports traffic safety, roadway improvement, parking and transportation management solutions, special transportation needs for mobility-impaired persons, and efforts to increase bus and rail use.

A significant focus of the Transportation Element is congestion, which contributes to air, water, and noise pollution, and to frustration for drivers, bicyclists, and other travelers. Increases in roadway capacity are not anticipated in Palo Alto, so the Transportation Element addresses congestion with policies aimed at reducing single-occupant automobile trips, while encouraging pedestrian and bicycle transportation alternatives.

The Current Plan: A Solid Foundation

The existing Transportation Element capitalizes on the fact that Palo Alto is the second largest generator of weekday Caltrain trips behind San Francisco and a nationally recognized leader in innovative bicycle projects and programs. The following policy themes are carried forward:

  • Reducing single-occupant vehicle trips through a variety of methods.
  • Connecting employment areas with the multi-modal transit stations and business districts.
  • Supporting efforts to integrate train, bus, and shuttle schedules at multi-modal transit stations to make public transit use more time-efficient.
  • Continuing to emphasize pedestrian and bicycle safety over automobile speeds, and using streetscape beautification and neighborhood traffic calming to slow speeds and improve safety.
  • Providing sufficient parking in business districts to address long-range needs.

Our Palo Alto 2030

The updated Comprehensive Plan builds on the existing, forward-thinking Transportation Element, and fine-tunes it to respond to emerging trends and community concerns, including by:

  • Requiring proposed development to support walking, biking, and transit.
  • Supporting reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and promoting electric and alternative fuel vehicle technology.
  • Reinforcing “complete streets” concepts and policies to position the City to qualify for regional grant funding.
  • Supporting Caltrain modernization, including by exploring the potential for grade-separated crossings.
  • Strengthening policies on preservation of neighborhood residential streets, Safe Routes to School, and general traffic safety.

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Vision Statement

“Palo Alto will build and maintain a sustainable network of safe, accessible and efficient transportation and parking solutions for all users and modes, while protecting and enhancing the quality of life in Palo Alto. Programs will include alternative and innovate transportation processes, and the adverse impacts of automobile traffic on the environment in general and residential streets in particular will be reduced. Streets will be safe, attractive and designed to enhance the quality and aesthetics of Palo Alto neighborhoods. Palo Alto recognizes the regional nature of its transportation system, and will be a leader in seeking regional transportation solutions, prioritizing Caltrain service improvements and railroad grade separations.”


Click here to view the 1998 Comp Plan version of the Transportation Element.

Click here to view the June 30, 2017 version of the updated Element.

Click here to view all CAC meetings where this Element was discussed.