Program for Arterial System Synchronization — PASS | Operate + Coordinate | Our Work

Program for Arterial System Synchronization — PASS

MTC’s Program for Arterial System Synchronization (PASS) works to make the Bay Area’s major city streets and county roads both safer and more efficient.

Synchronization of traffic signals is vital along our most heavily traveled streets and roads. But multi-city corridors that also are part of the state highway system — like El Camino Real on the Peninsula, or San Pablo Avenue in the East Bay — present myriad challenges: some signals are owned and operated by different cities, and others by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

PASS delivers financial and technical assistance to cities and counties to enhance signal coordination across jurisdictions. This includes:

  • Engineering help for local governments seeking to re-time signals
  • Signal-timing priority for transit vehicles
  • Traffic-responsive timing plans
  • “Flush” plans for managing traffic incidents
  •  Communication between local and Caltrans signals

PASS has helped Bay Area cities and counties successfully re-time some 1,900 traffic signals since the program began in 2010.

Together, signal re-timing projects funded through the most recent PASS cycle deliver:

  • Average speed increase: 26 percent
  • Travel time savings: 15 percent, or more than 3.9 million hours
  • Fuel consumption savings: 11 percent, or over 11.5 million gallons
  • Total emissions reduction: 422.4 tons
  • Total project costs: $1.8 million
  • Total lifetime benefits: $122.8 million
  • Overall benefit-cost ratio: 67:1

Building on the success of PASS, MTC launched a Next Generation Arterial Operations Program to help cities and counties explore and implement low-cost, advanced technologies to help run their busiest streets and roads more smartly. Technologies include adaptive signal systems, real-time traffic monitoring, queue-jump lanes, and Bluetooth-related intelligent transportation system elements.