California Department of Transportation

SB 743 Implementation

About Senate Bill (SB) 743

SB 743 was signed in 2013, with the intent to “more appropriately balance the needs of congestion management with statewide goals related to infill development, promotion of public health through active transportation, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”  When implemented, “traffic congestion shall not be considered a significant impact on the environment” within California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) transportation analysis.

SB 743 requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to identify new metrics for identifying and mitigating transportation impacts within CEQA.  For land use projects, OPR identified Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per capita, VMT per employee, and net VMT as new metrics for transportation analysis.  For transportation projects, lead agencies for roadway capacity projects have discretion, consistent with CEQA and planning requirements, to choose which metric to use to evaluate transportation impacts.

Regulatory changes to the CEQA Guidelines that implement SB 743 were approved on December 28, 2018.  July 1, 2020 is the statewide implementation date and agencies may opt-in use of new metrics prior to that date.  OPR released a December 2018 Technical Advisory that contains recommendations regarding assessment of VMT, thresholds of significance, and mitigation measures.

SB 743 affects important parts of Caltrans work:

  • Review of local land use projects’ potential impact to the State Highway System
  • Transportation analysis including induced vehicle travel analysis for State Highway System projects.

Caltrans is evolving our transportation analysis to be more multimodal—part of implementing our Strategic Management Plan 2015-2020.  

This webpage has information about Caltrans SB 743-related work, and helpful resources for SB 743 implementation work around the state.


CSTDM Data—Caltrans’ California Statewide Travel Demand Modal is available for use when calculating residential and office projects’ VMT.  A dedicated website is available to more easily access CSTDM data.

Research Efforts

Caltrans Division of Research and Innovation (DRISI) supports SB 743-related research efforts.  

  • Transportation Research Board. “In 2015, Caltrans sponsored a review of applicable induced vehicle travel research that could inform transportation analysis guidance in response to new laws in California such as Senate Bill 743, which prohibits the use of vehicle level of service and similar measures as the sole basis for determining significant transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act.” (Source: Transportation Research Board).  Marc Birnbaum, Caltrans Traffic Operations, co-authored the Transportation Research Board peer-reviewed paper:

Caltrans Local Development-Intergovernmental Review (LD-IGR)

LD-IGR Interim Guidance —This is a high-level desk reference for District staff that refocuses Caltrans LD-IGR programís attention on local development projectís VMT, appropriate transportation demand measures (TDM), and determining how best to address multimodal operational issues.

Projects on the State Highway System

Caltrans sees benefits in using VMT as the primary metric for environmental impacts on the state highway system and plans to start working with partners to implement this direction upon adoption of Caltrans Guidelines.

The outcome of cooperative work would be Department guidance to clarify the following, and other issues:

  • Process for a prospective phase-in that does not require any re-analysis and strives to ensure no delay for current projects Ė such as the programmed SB 1 and upcoming Local Measure projects.
  • Clarification of the type of projects requiring detailed VMT analysis.
  • Clarification on acceptable mitigation such as, but not limited to, VMT banking, regional investment program, and exchange mechanisms.
  • Quantification tools for VMT, including induced travel and methodology for VMT based analyses.
  • Clarification on safety and operations analysis, including tools to assess safety impacts, which could include use of LOS as an input for the safety analysis.

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Early Adopters

In July, 2016 Caltrans Planning Horizons hosted a discussion by City of San Francisco and City of Pasadena about their early adoption of VMT thresholds.  Cities and counties around California may be interested in hearing about the impetus for and experience of creating the VMT thresholds.

Learn about local jurisdictions in California that have switched to a VMT metric in CEQA transportation analysis.

Additional Resources

SB 743 Case Studies.  The Urban Sustainability Accelerator at Portland State University created four case studies on how to apply the vehicle miles traveled metric to a highway project and three land use projects.

Implementing SB 743: An Analysis of Vehicle Miles Traveled Banking and Exchange Frameworks.  This research paper from University of California Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment focuses on two innovative models that could be used to implement programmatic VMT mitigation strategies for land use or transportation projects. VMT mitigation “banks” and “exchanges” are compared, and examples provided of ways to mitigate VMT under CEQA or the mitigation fee act.  These models are conceptually similar to existing mitigation frameworks such as regional impact fee programs or habitat conservation banks.

Evaluation of Sketch-Level Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Quantification Tools.  National Center for Sustainable Transportation “researchers compare and evaluate VMT estimation tools across a sample of land use projects. They compare the results from different tools for each project, consider the applicability of methods in particular contexts and for different types of projects, and assess data needs, relative ease of use, and other practical considerations.”  The research is not done within a CEQA context, but it is interesting to review the use of the VMT estimation tools.


For more information on Caltrans SB 743 implementation efforts contact:

Alyssa Begley
Caltrans SB 743 Program Implementation Manager
Desk: (916) 651-6882
Cellular:  (916) 261-3389