Active Transportation

Complete streets, transit, bikeway, and pedestrian planning, design, and performance measurement

VMT Metrics Policy Application & Technical Analysis for SB 743 Compliance

This course examines the origins of changing the transportation metric from level of service (LOS) to vehicle-miles-of-travel (VMT). We discuss VMT and its relationship to climate change impacts, the legislative history of VMT in California (including SB 375 & 743), and an overview of the new CEQA Guidelines update.

We also discuss the means by which local agencies can continue to address the issue of traffic congestion outside of the CEQA process. OPR has selected VMT as the preferred metric to comply with SB 743, and the recommended changes to the CEQA Guidelines include a Technical Advisory that provides recommendations about VMT screening, methodology, and thresholds. These recommendations require fundamental changes in current transportation impact analysis practices and have implications for transportation planning as part of general plans and regional transportation plans.

This course also explains the technical details of how to address these changes and include detailed step-by-step flow-chart explanations of how to analyze land use projects, transportation projects, land use plans (e.g., general plans), and regional transportation plans under SB 743.

Additional course detail is provided in the sections below.

  • Course Topics
    • What is vehicle miles travelled (VMT)?
    • VMT and its relationship to greenhouse gas emissions
    • The legislative evolution of VMT
    • The CEQA Guidelines
    • Is LOS still a thing?
    • Role of VMT in environmental impact analysis versus transportation planning
    • VMT estimation and forecasting methods
    • Role of the ARB's Mobile Source Strategy in establishing substantial evidence for significance thresholds
    • Role of RTPs and general plans in setting significance thresholds
    • Mitigation sources, strategies, and limitations
  • Course Outline

    Module 1: What is Vehicle Miles Travelled?

    • Defining what VMT is, and how it differs from “level of service” (LOS)

    Module 2: VMT and its Relationship to Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    • Explaining how VMT and mobile greenhouse gas emissions are linked

    Module 3: The Legislative Evolution of CEQA’s VMT Traffic Metric

    • Discussing SB 375 as the link between land use and GHG reduction
    • Discussing SB 97, bringing GHG considerations into CEQA
    • Discussing SB 743, requiring that VMT replace LOS in the CEQA Guidelines

    Module 4: The CEQA Guidelines

    • Explaining the CEQA Guidelines and their role in environmental analysis
    • OPR’s work drafting the CEQA Guidelines update
    • Key concerns of the public

    Module 5: What the new CEQA Guidelines Say about VMT

    • Reviewing Section 15064.3, the VMT traffic metric
    • How this changes the game for traffic impact analysis
    • Exception for “roadway capacity projects”
    • OPR’s technical advice memo

    Module 6: Practical Example Exercise

    • Review project examples and contrast the impact findings under LOS and VMT approaches

    Module 7: Role of VMT in SB 743

    • Understand the role of VMT for environmental impact analysis versus transportation planning.
    • SB 743 Legislative Intent
    • SB 743 Analysis Flow Charts
    • VMT Screening

    Module 8: VMT Estimation & Forecasting

    • Understand the methods VMT estimation and forecasting. This will include differences in VMT methodology for air quality, greenhouse gas, energy, and transportation impacts.
    • Data and models
    • Project versus cumulative analysis -Differences in methods for energy, air quality, greenhouse gas, and transportation impact analysis
    • Induced Travel
    • Understand the methods VMT estimation and forecasting. This will include differences in VMT methodology for air quality, greenhouse gas, energy, and transportation impacts.
    • Case Studies – General Plan, Land Use Project, Transportation Project

    Module 9: Significance Thresholds

    • Understand the key factors in establishing significance thresholds.
    • SB 743 legislative intent
    • OPR recommendations
    • Role of ARB’s Mobile Source Strategy, RTPs, and general plans
    • Relationship to air quality and GHG thresholds

    Module 10: Mitigation

    • Understand mitigation sources, strategies, and limitations
    • Plan level versus project level mitigation
    • Influence of the built environment versus TDM strategies
    • CAPCOA GHG Mitigation Reduction Strategies

    Module 11: Case Studies & Practical Example Exercise

    • Threshold setting interactive exercise
    • Review project examples and discuss impact findings and mitigation effectiveness
  • What you will learn

    This class will provide attendees with a background of CEQA's VMT traffic metric, including an understanding of the origins of the new traffic metric, a discussion of the new CEQA Guidelines provisions on VMT (including an introduction to the OPR technical advisory), and suggestions on how local agencies can adapt so that concerns about congestion and traffic impact fee programs can be addressed outside of CEQA.

    Students will obtain a rich set of practical information to help them navigate SB 743 compliance.

    This will include how to estimate and forecast VMT using a variety of methods and what limitations apply; how to relate VMT reduction goals across technical topic areas including energy, air quality, greenhouse gases, and transportation; how to select the form of VMT that is most useful in measuring transportation impacts; how to select appropriate thresholds; and what constitutes substantial evidence to support these decisions.

  • Who should attend

    This course is intended for planners, engineers, policy analysts, and CEQA practitioners, among others, in private or public practice who want to understand the technical details associated with SB 743 implementation and the fundamental changes in current transportation impact analysis practices.

    It will also provide a foundational understanding of the origins and underlying philosophy behind California's new VMT traffic metric.

  • Course Prerequisites

      [no prerequisites identified]

  • Course Instructors

      Ronald Milam, AICP, PTP, Director of Evolving the Status Quo, Fehr & Peers

      Mr. Ronald T. Milam is a certified planner (AICP) and professional transportation planner (PTP) with more than 25 years of experience in all modes of surface transportation. His project assignments routinely involve CEQA legal defensibility while his research time is spent on big data applications, VMT analysis, multi-modal metrics, and land use/transportation interactions. His work on VMT analysis includes contributions to the FHWA Handbook for Estimating Transportation Greenhouse Gases for Integration into the Planning Process and the CAPCOA Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Measures plus direct consulting to OPR, Caltrans, MPOs, and local agencies on SB 743 implementation.

      Antero Rivasplata, AICP, Technical Director, ICF International

      Mr. Rivasplata, a Technical Director with ICF, specializes in preparing California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents for projects ranging from schools to general plans. He teaches training courses on CEQA and related topics at UC Davis Extension and UC Berkeley Tech Transfer. He was with the Governor's Office of Planning and Research from 1985 to 1998, including a stint as the chief of both the State Clearinghouse and the planning unit. He participated in drafting the 1998, 1997, and 1994 amendments to the CEQA Guidelines. He is the editor of the Environmental Assessor for the Association of Environmental Professionals and is a coauthor of the CEQA Deskbook, 3rd Edition.

  • Registration Information

      Registration for this course occurs at the TechTransfer training host site. Use the button to the right to directly access the course page and registration portal. You will be asked to create a user account as part of the registration process.

      A confirmation email will be sent to you within two business days of TechTransfer receiving your paid registration.

      If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the TechTransfer Registrar at (510) 643-4393 or

  • For more information

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      Cancellation Policy:

      The cancellation fee for this course is $75. At TechTransfer, there are no refunds for classes with registration fees of $75 or less. For all other classes, you may cancel your enrollment and receive a refund of your registration fee less $75, provided they receive your written request to cancel at least 5 full working days before the class is scheduled to begin. In lieu of canceling your registration, you may (1) transfer your registration to another TechTransfer class, (2) receive a tuition credit for the full amount, useable toward a future class, or (3) send a substitute in your place.

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LTAP Subsidized

This class is offered at a reduced fee to employees of California's city, county, regional, and tribal public agencies

Course Fee

Standard Rate:

Public Agency Rate:



Course Credit

This course grants:

1.60 CEUs

Upcoming Sessions (1)

6/5/24 - 6/6/24
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM PT


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