Click here to skip navigation American Public Transportation Association Visit the APTA Bookstore
What's New
About APTA
For Members
Conferences & Calendar
Services & Programs
Government Affairs
Industry Information
APTA Standards Program
Media Center
Passenger Transport
Book Store
Contact Us
Site Map
Rail and Bus LinksThe Rail Station
September 27, 2007
APTA    Search: Click here to search
APTA > Industry Information > Information Center > Online Publications and Databases  

Glossary of Transit Terminology

Accessibility The extent to which facilities are barrier free and useable by persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users.
Advanced Design Bus See "Bus, Advanced Design."
Advanced Public Transportation Systems (APTS) Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems (IVHS) technology that is designed to improve transit services through advanced vehicle operations, communications, customer service and market development.
Aerial Tramway An electric system of aerial cables with suspended unpowered passenger vehicles. The vehicles are propelled by separate cables attached to the vehicle suspension system and powered by engines or motors at a central location not on board the vehicle.
Alternative Fuels Low-polluting fuels which are used to propel a vehicle instead of high-sulfur diesel or gasoline. Examples include methanol, ethanol, propane or compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, low-sulfur or "clean" diesel and electricity.
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) A major labor union representing workers in the transit industry; membership is limited to operators, mechanics and other non-supervisory employees of the transit industry.
American Public Transportation Association (APTA) The national, nonprofit trade association representing the public transit industry. APTA members include more than 400 public transit systems, as well as state and local departments of transportation and planning agencies, manufacturers and suppliers of transit equipment, consultants, contractors and universities.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) A civil rights law passed by Congress in 1990 which makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in employment, services provided by state and local governments, public and private transportation, public accommodations and telecommunications.
Annual Element Those transportation improvement projects, contained in an area's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), that are proposed for implementation in the current year. The annual element is submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) as part of the required planning process.
Apportionment A federal budgetary term that refers to a statutorily prescribed division or assignment of funds. It is based on prescribed formulas in the law and consists of dividing authorized obligation authority for a specific program among transit systems.
Appropriation A federal budgetary term that refers to an act of Congress that permits federal agencies to incur obligations and make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes. An appropriation act is the most common means of providing budget authority, but in some cases the authorization legislation itself provides the budget authority.
Arbitration A method of settling disputes where labor and management present their case to an impartial third party, called an arbitrator, who has the responsibility of deciding the case.
Arterial Street A major thoroughfare, used primarily for through traffic rather than for access to adjacent land, that is characterized by high vehicular capacity and continuity of movement.
Articulated Bus See "Bus, Articulated."
Authorization Basic, substantive legislation which establishes or continues the legal operation of a federal program or agency, either indefinitely or for a specific period of time, or which sanctions a particular type of obligation or expenditure within a program. An authorization may set appropriation limits. See "Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991."
Auto Restricted Zone (ARZ) An area in which normal automobile traffic is prohibited or limited to certain times, and vehicular traffic is restricted to public transit, emergency vehicles, taxicabs and, in some cases, delivery of goods.
Automated Guideway An electric railway operating without vehicle operators or other crew on board the vehicle.
Automatic Fare Collection System (AFC) A system of controls and equipment that automatically admits passengers on insertion of the correct fare in coins, tokens, tickets or farecards; it may include special equipment for transporting and counting revenues.
Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS) Technology that tracks the current location of fleet vehicles to assist in dispatching, maintaining schedules, answering specific customer inquiries, etc.
Bargaining Agent A labor union designated by an appropriate government agency or recognized by the employer as the exclusive representative of all employees in the bargaining unit for purposes of collective bargaining.
Base Period The period between the morning and evening peak periods when transit service is generally scheduled on a constant interval. Also known as "off-peak period."
Base Fare The price charged to one adult for one transit ride; excludes transfer charges, zone charges, express service charges, peak period surcharges and reduced fares.
Binding Arbitration Arbitration with a final and binding award, which is often enforceable in the courts.
Budget Authority A federal budgetary term that refers to legal authority given by Congress to federal agencies to make funds available for obligation or expenditure.
Budget Resolution A federal budgetary term that refers to a concurrent resolution passed by both Houses of Congress, but not requiring the signature of the President, setting forth the congressional budget for each of five fiscal years. The budget resolution sets forth various budget total and functional allocations, and may include reconciliation instructions to designated House or Senate committees.
Bus (Motorbus) A rubber-tired, self-propelled, manually-steered vehicle with fuel supply carried on board the vehicle. Types include advanced design, articulated, charter, circulator, double deck, express, feeder, intercity, medium-size, new look, sightseeing, small, standard-size, subscription, suburban, transit and van.
Bus, Advanced Design A bus introduced in 1977 that incorporates new styling and design features compared to previous buses.
Bus, Articulated A bus usually 55 feet or more in length with two connected passenger compartments that bend at the connecting point when the bus turns a corner.
Bus, Charter A bus transporting a group of persons who, pursuant to a common purpose, and under a single contract at a fixed price, have acquired the exclusive use of a bus to travel together under an itinerary.
Bus, Circulator A bus serving an area confined to a specific locale, such as a downtown area or suburban neighborhood with connections to major traffic corridors.
Bus, Double Deck A bus with two separate passenger compartments, one above the other.
Bus, Express A bus that operates a portion of the route without stops or with a limited number of stops.
Bus, Feeder A bus service that picks up and delivers passengers to a rail rapid transit station or express bus stop or terminal.
Bus, Intercity A bus with front doors only, high-backed seats, separate luggage compartments, and usually with restroom facilities for use in high-speed long-distance service.
Bus, Medium-Size A bus from 29 to 34 feet in length.
Bus, New Look A bus with the predominant styling and mechanical equipment common to buses manufactured between 1959 and 1978.
Bus, Sightseeing A bus adapted for sightseeing use, usually with expanded window areas.
Bus, Small A bus 28 feet or less in length.
Bus, Standard-Size A bus from 35 to 41 feet in length.
Bus, Subscription A commuter bus express service operated for a guaranteed number of patrons from a given area on a prepaid, reserved-seat basis.
Bus, Suburban A bus with front doors only, normally with high-backed seats, and without luggage compartments or restroom facilities for use in longer-distance service with relatively few stops.
Bus, Transit A bus with front and center doors, normally with a rear-mounted engine, low-back seating, and without luggage compartments or restroom facilities for use in frequent-stop service.
Bus, Trolley An electric, rubber-tired transit vehicle, manually steered, propelled by a motor drawing current through overhead wires from a central power source not on board the vehicle. Also known as "trolley coach" or "trackless trolley."
(Bus), Van A 20-foot long or shorter vehicle, usually with an automotive-type engine and limited seating normally entered directly through side or rear doors rather than from a central aisle, used for demand response, vanpool, and lightly patronized motorbus service.
Bus Discretionary Capital Federal funding granted under Section 3 of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act). These discretionary funds are used for bus-related construction projects or to replace, rehabilitate or purchase buses.
Bus Lane A street or highway lane intended primarily for buses, either all day or during specified periods, but sometimes also used by carpools meeting requirements set out in traffic laws.
Bus Shelter A building or other structure constructed near a bus stop, to provide seating and protection from the weather for the convenience of waiting passengers.
Bus Stop A place where passengers can board or alight from the bus, usually identified by a sign.
Busway Exclusive freeway lane for buses and carpools.
Cable Car An electric railway operating in mixed street traffic with unpowered, individually-controlled transit vehicles propelled by moving cables located below the street surface and powered by engines or motors at a central location not on board the vehicle.
Capital Assistance Financial assistance for transit capital expenses (not operating costs); such aid may originate with federal, local or state governments.
Capital Costs Costs of long-term assets of a public transit system such as property, buildings, vehicles, etc.
Carpool An arrangement where two or more people share the use and cost of privately owned automobiles in traveling to and from pre-arranged destinations together.
Catenary An overhead contact wire system which supplies power from a central power source to an electric vehicle (such as a trolley bus; see "Bus, Trolley").
Central Business District (CBD) The downtown retail trade and commercial area of a city or an area of very high land valuation, traffic flow, and concentration of retail business offices, theaters, hotels and services.
Charter Bus See "Bus, Charter."
Circulator Bus See "Bus, Circulator."
Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA) The comprehensive federal legislation which establishes criteria for attaining and maintaining the federal standards for allowable concentrations and exposure limits for various air pollutants; the act also provides emission standards for specific vehicles and fuels.
Collective Bargaining Negotiations between labor union representatives and employers to reach agreement on a contract describing such matters as wages, hours and working conditions.
Commitment See "Obligation."
Commuter A person who travels regularly between home and work or school.
Commuter Rail See "Rail, Commuter."
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) An alternative fuel; compressed natural gas stored under high pressure. CNG vapor is lighter than air.
Compulsory Arbitration Arbitration that is required by law.
Conciliation See "Mediation."
Conformity The ongoing process that ensures the planning for highway and transit systems, as a whole and over the long term, is consistent with the state air quality plans for attaining and maintaining health-based air quality standards; conformity is determined by metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), and is based on whether transportation plans and prog rams meet the provisions of a State Implementation Plan.
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Federal funds available for either transit or highway projects which contribute significantly to reducing automobile emissions which cause air pollution.
Contract Authority A federal budgetary term that refers to a form of budget authority permitting obligations to be incurred in advance of appropriations. Advance obligations, however, have been limited by the appropriations committees with obligation limitations.
Contraflow Lane Reserved lane for buses on which the direction of bus traffic is opposite to the flow of traffic on the other lanes.
Corridor A broad geographical band that follows a general directional flow connecting major sources of trips that may contain a number of streets, highways and transit route alignments.
Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) An increase or decrease in employees' wages or salaries made on the basis of changes in agreed-upon economic indices, usually the Consumer Price Index.
Crosstown Non-radial bus or rail service which does not enter the Central Business District (CBD).
Deadhead The movement of a transit vehicle without passengers aboard; often to and from a garage or to and from one route to another.
Dedicated Funding Source A source of monies which by law is available for use only to support a specific purpose, and cannot be diverted to other uses.
Demand Responsive Non-fixed-route service utilizing vans or buses with passengers boarding and alighting at pre-arranged times at any location within the system's service area. Also called "Dial-a-Ride."
Department of Transportation (DOT) The cabinet level Department of the federal government that is responsible for administration of federal transportation programs including public transportation, highways, railroads, air transportation, shipping and the Coast Guard. Each state also has a department of transportation.
Dial-a-Ride See "Demand Responsive."
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) A business owned and operated by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Socially and economically disadvantaged individuals include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans or Asian Indian Americans and any other minorities or individuals found to be disadvantaged by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under Section 8 (a) of the Small Business Act.
Discretionary Spending A federal budgetary terms that refers to any funds whose distribution in not automatic. Discretionary spending encompasses programs controlled by annual appropriations bills and is subject to the constraints imposed by the discretionary spending limits set in the balanced budget law.
Double Deck Bus See "Bus, Double Deck."
Downtime A period during which a vehicle is inoperative because of repairs or maintenance.
Downtown People Mover (DPM) A type of automated guideway transit vehicle operating on a loop or shuttle route within the Central Business District (CBD) of a city.
Dwell Time The scheduled time a vehicle or train is allowed to discharge and take on passengers at a stop, including opening and closing doors.
Earmark A federal budgetary term that refers to the specific designation by Congress that part of a more general lump-sum appropriation be used for a particular project; the earmark can be designated as a minimum and/or maximum dollar amount.
Elevated (Railway) See "Rail, Heavy."
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) A comprehensive study of likely environmental impacts resulting from major federally-assisted projects; statements are required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Equity, Federal Transit Funding A ratio of appropriated dollars between Sections 9 and 18 (formula funds) to Section 3 (discretionary funds).
Ethanol An alternative fuel; a liquid alcohol fuel with vapor heavier than air; produced from agricultural products such as corn, grain and sugar cane.
Exclusive Right-of-Way A highway or other facility that can only be used by buses or other transit vehicles.
Executive Order 12372 A presidential directive that furnishes guidance to federal agencies for cooperation with state and local governments in the evaluation, review and coordination of federal assistance programs and projects.
Express Bus See "Bus, Express."
Fare Box Recovery Ratio Measure of the proportion of operating expenses covered by passenger fares; found by dividing fare box revenue by total operating expenses for each mode and/or systemwide.
Fare Box Revenue Value of cash, tickets, tokens and pass receipts given by passengers as payment for rides; excludes charter revenue.
Fare Elasticity The extent to which ridership responds to fare increases or decreases.
Fare Structure The system set up to determine how much is to be paid by various passengers using a transit vehicle at any given time.
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA); FTA is the agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation which administers the federal program of financial assistance to public transit.
Feeder Bus See "Bus, Feeder."
Ferryboat A boat providing fixed-route service across a body of water.
Fiscal Year (FY) The yearly accounting period for the federal government which begins October 1 and ends on the following September 30. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends (e.g., FY 94 is from October 1, 1993 to September 30, 1994).
Fixed Cost An indirect cost that remains relatively constant, irrespective of the level of operational activity.
Fixed Guideway Modernization See "Rail Modernization."
Fixed Guideway System A system of vehicles that can operate only on its own guideway constructed for that purpose (e.g., rapid rail, light rail). Federal usage in funding legislation also includes exclusive right-of-way bus operations, trolley coaches and ferryboats as "fixed guideway" transit.
Fixed Route Service provided on a repetitive, fixed-schedule basis along a specific route with vehicles stopping to pick up and deliver passengers to specific locations; each fixed-route trip serves the same origins and destinations, unlike demand responsive and taxicabs.
Flexible Funds Those federal funds which can be used for highway, transit or other transportation projects, as decided by regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and state governments. Examples of such funds are the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) fund.
Formula Funds Funds distributed or apportioned to qualifying recipients on the basis of formulas described in law; e.g., funds in the Section 18 program for Small Urban and Rural Transit Assistance, which are distributed to each state based on the state's percentage of national rural population. See also "Section 9."
Fringe Parking An area for parking usually located outside the Central Business District (CBD) and most often used by suburban residents who work or shop downtown.
Grievance Arbitration The process of resolving a labor dispute involving the application or interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement, by asking an impartial third party to make a decision after both labor and management have presented their cases.
Headway Time interval between vehicles moving in the same direction on a particular route.
Heavy Rail See "Rail, Heavy."
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Vehicles that can carry two or more persons. Examples of high occupancy vehicles are a bus, vanpool and carpool. These vehicles sometimes have exclusive traffic lanes called "HOV lanes," "busways," "transitways" or "commuter lanes."
High Speed Rail See "Rail, High Speed."
Highway Trust Fund The federal trust fund established by the Highway Revenue Act of 1956; this fund has two accounts -- the Highway Account and the Mass Transit Account. Trust fund revenues are derived from federal highway-user taxes and fees such as motor fuel taxes; trust fund uses and expenditures are determined by law.
Inclined Plane A railway operating over exclusive right-of-way on steep grades with unpowered vehicles propelled by moving cables attached to the vehicles and powered by engines or motors at a central location not on board the vehicle.
Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems (IVHS) Automated systems of highway transportation designed to improve traffic monitoring and management. IVHS includes: Advanced Public Transportation Systems (APTS), Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS) and "smart vehicles" which assist drivers with planning, perception, analysis and decision-making. See also "Intelligent Vehicle Highway Society of Am erica (IVHS America)."
Intercity Bus See "Bus, Intercity."
Interest Arbitration The process of arriving at the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement, by asking an impartial third party to make rulings after both labor and management have presented their cases.
Intermodal Those issues or activities which involve or affect more than one mode of transportation, including transportation connections, choices, cooperation and coordination of various modes. Also known as "multimodal."
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) The 1991 law that reauthorized the federal surface transportation program for six years. ISTEA heralded a new era in surface transportation because of the emphasis on "intermodalism," the unprecedented increases in authorized spending for transit, the ability to use some highway funds for transit (and vice versa) and the increased reliance on regional planning agencies to weigh transportation options and make decisions utilizing public participation.
Jitney Privately-owned, small or medium-sized vehicle usually operated on a fixed route but not on a fixed schedule.
Joint Development Ventures undertaken by the public and private sectors for development of land around transit stations or stops.
Kiss and Ride A place where commuters are driven and dropped off at a station to board a public transportation vehicle.
Layover Time Time built into a schedule between arrival at the end of a route and the departure for the return trip, used for the recovery of delays and preparation for the return trip.
Level Playing Field A balanced approach to federal funding proportions for highway projects and transit projects; may also refer to employee transportation benefits so that the monthly, tax-free value of a transit pass is equal to that of a parking space; generally, any situation in which transit and highways receive equal treatment in federal funding and other federal procedures.
Light Rail See "Rail, Light."
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) An alternative fuel; a natural gas cooled to below its boiling point of -260 degrees Fahrenheit so that it becomes a liquid; stored in a vacuum bottle-type container at very low temperatures and under moderate pressure. LNG vapor is lighter than air.
Load Factor The ratio of passengers actually carried versus the total passenger capacity of a vehicle.
Magnetic Levitation (Mag-Lev) A rail transportation system with exclusive right-of-way which is propelled along a fixed guideway system by the attraction or repulsion of magnets on the rails and under the rail cars.
Managers of Mobility Transit systems which expand their role to include services and approaches beyond traditional public transportation to include ridesharing, high occupancy vehicle programs, public education on transit's benefits and integration of land use, air quality and transportation decisions; the phrase was developed as part of the industry's Transit 2000 policy effort undertaken in the la te 1980s and early 1990s.
Mass Transit See "Public Transportation."
Mass Transit Account The federal account, established by the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, into which a designated portion of the federal Highway Trust Fund revenue from motor fuel taxes is placed (1.5 cents in 1994). This account is used for federal mass transportation assistance.
Mass Transportation See "Public Transportation."
Mean Distance Between Failures (MDBF) The average distance in miles that a transit vehicle travels before failure of a vital component forces removal of that vehicle from service.
Mediation Efforts by an impartial third party to encourage agreement between a labor union and management by counseling each side and facilitating negotiations. Also known as "conciliation."
Medium-Size Bus See "Bus, Medium-Size."
Methanol An alternative fuel; a liquid alcohol fuel with vapor heavier than air; primarily produced from natural gas.
Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) The organization designated by local elected officials as being responsible for carrying out the urban transportation and other planning processes for an area.
Metropolitan Railway (Metro) See "Rail, Heavy."
Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) A business owned and operated by one or more individuals who are defined as minorities under U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. See also "disadvantaged business enterprise."
Modal Split A term which describes how many people use alternative forms of transportation. Frequently used to describe the percentage of people using private automobiles as opposed to the percentage using public transportation.
Model An analytical tool (often mathematical) used by transportation planners to assist in making forecasts of land use, economic activity, travel activity and their effects on the quality of resources such as land, air and water.
Monorail An electric railway in which a rail car or train of cars is suspended from or straddles a guideway formed by a single beam or rail. Most monorails are either heavy rail or automated guideway systems.
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) A comprehensive federal law requiring analysis of the environmental impacts of federal actions such as the approval of grants; also requiring preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for every major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.
National Highway System (NHS) A proposed transportation system consisting of approximately 155,000 miles of highway in order to provide an interconnected system of principal arterial routes serving major population centers, major transportation facilities, major travel destinations, interstate and interregional travel and meeting national defense requirements. The NHS, defined in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Effic iency Act (ISTEA), is one component of the National Transportation System (NTS).
National Transportation System (NTS) An intermodal system consisting of all forms of transportation in a unified, interconnected manner to reduce energy consumption and air pollution while promoting economic development and supporting the Nation's preeminent position in international commerce. The NTS includes the National Highway System (NHS), public transportation and access to ports and airports.
New Look Bus See "Bus, New Look."
New Start Federal funding granted under Section 3(i) of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act). These discretionary funds are made available for construction of a new fixed guideway system or extension of any existing fixed guideway system, based on cost-effectiveness, alternatives analysis results and the degree of local financial commitment.
Nonattainment Area Any geographic region of the United States that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated as not attaining the federal air quality standards for one or more air pollutants, such as ozone and carbon monoxide.
Obligation A federal budgetary term that refers to a binding agreement that will result in an outlay; an agreement by the federal government to pay for goods or services immediately or at some future time when the goods or services are delivered. Also known as a "commitment."
Obligation Limitation A federal budgetary term that refers to a limit placed in appropriations bills on the amount of federal assistance that may be obligated during a specified time period. It does not affect the scheduled apportionment or allocation of funds; it just controls the rate at which these funds may be used.
Off-Peak Period Non-rush periods of the day when travel activity is generally lower and less transit service is scheduled. Also called "base period."
Operating Assistance Financial assistance for transit operating expenses (not capital costs); such aid may originate with federal, local or state governments.
Operating Deficit The sum of all operating expenses minus operating revenues.
Operating Expense Monies paid in salaries, wages, materials, supplies and equipment in order to maintain equipment and buildings, operate vehicles, rent equipment and facilities and settle claims.
Operating Revenue Receipts derived from or for the operation of transit service, including fare box revenue, revenue from advertising, interest and charter bus service and operating assistance from governments.
Outlay A federal budgetary term that refers to a payment made to meet an obligation; the point at which an actual payment of money is made.
Paratransit Comparable transportation service required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 for individuals with disabilities who are unable to use fixed-route transportation systems.
Park and Ride Lot Designated parking areas for automobile drivers who then board transit vehicles from these locations.
Particulate Trap A filter which removes a portion of the particulates (solids, soot, etc.) from a vehicle's exhaust stream and generally includes a regenerative unit and associated control system to burn the collected solids.
Passenger Miles The total number of miles traveled by passengers on transit vehicles; determined by multiplying the number of unlinked passenger trips times the average length of their trips.
Passenger Transport (PT) The weekly newspaper of the transit industry that is published by the American Public Transit Association (APTA).
Peak Period Morning and afternoon time periods when transit riding is heaviest.
Peak/Base Ratio The number of vehicles operated in passenger service during the peak period divided by the number operated during the base period.
Propane An alternative fuel; a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) which is stored under moderate pressure and with vapor heavier than air; produced as a by-product of natural gas and oil production.
Public Transit System An organization that provides transportation services owned, operated, or subsidized by any municipality, county, regional authority, state, or other governmental agency, including those operated or managed by a private management firm under contract to the government agency owner.
Public Transportation Transportation by bus, rail, or other conveyance, either publicly or privately owned, which provides to the public general or special service on a regular and continuing basis. Also known as "mass transportation," "mass transit" and "transit."
Rail, Commuter Railroad local and regional passenger train operations between a central city, its suburbs and/or another central city. It may be either locomotive-hauled or self-propelled, and is characterized by multi-trip tickets, specific station-to-station fares, railroad employment practices and usually only one or two stations in the central business district. Also known as "suburban rail."
Rail, Heavy An electric railway with the capacity for a "heavy volume" of traffic and characterized by exclusive rights-of-way, multi-car trains, high speed and rapid acceleration, sophisticated signaling and high platform loading. Also known as "rapid rail," "subway," "elevated (railway)" or "metropolitan railway (metro)."
Rail, High Speed A rail transportation system with exclusive right-of-way which serves densely traveled corridors at speeds of 124 miles per hour (200 km/h) and greater.
Rail, Light An electric railway with a "light volume" traffic capacity compared to heavy rail. Light rail may use shared or exclusive rights-of-way, high or low platform loading and multi-car trains or single cars. Also known as "streetcar," "trolley car" and "tramway."
Rail Modernization Federal funding granted under Section 3(h) of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act). These discretionary funds are distributed by a formula and made available to transit systems for improvements on fixed guideway systems that have been in service for at least seven years. Also known as "fixed guideway modernization."
Rapid Rail See "Rail, Heavy."
Rapid Transit Rail or motorbus transit service operating completely separate from all modes of transportation on an exclusive right-of-way.
Rescission A federal budgetary term that refers to the cancellation, in whole or part, of budget authority previously granted by Congress.
Reverse Commuting Movement in a direction opposite the main flow of traffic, such as from the central city to a suburb during the morning peak period.
Ridesharing A form of transportation, other than public transit, in which more than one person shares the use of the vehicle, such as a van or car, to make a trip. Also known as "carpooling" or "vanpooling."
Ridership The number of rides taken by people using a public transportation system in a given time period.
Rolling Stock The vehicles used in a transit system, including buses and rail cars.
Route Miles The total number of miles included in a fixed route transit system network.
Section 3 The section of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964), as amended, that authorizes discretionary funds for capital public transportation projects.
Section 9 The section of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964), as amended, that authorizes grants to public transportation systems in urbanized areas (population greater than 50,000) for both capital and operating programs based on formulas set out in statute.
Section 13(c) The section of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964), as amended, related to labor protection that is designed to protect transit employees against a worsening of their position with respect to their employment as a result of grant assistance under the Act.
Section 15 The section of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964), as amended, that authorizes the U.S. Department of Transportation to gather statistical information about the financing and operations of public transportation systems, based upon a uniform system of accounts and records.
Section 16 The section of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964), as amended, that declares the national policy to be that elderly persons and persons with disabilities have the same right as other persons to utilize mass transportation facilities and services, and that special efforts shall be made in the planning and design of mass transportation facilities and services so that effective utilization by elderly persons and persons with disabilities is assured.
Section 16(b) The subsection of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964), as amended, that authorizes grants to nonprofit corporations and associations for the specific purpose of assisting them in providing transportation services meeting the special needs of elderly persons and persons with disabilities for whom mass transportation services are unavailable, insufficient or inappro priate.
Section 18 The section of the Federal Transit Act (formerly known as the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964), as amended, that authorizes grants to public transit systems outside urbanized areas, based on formulas set out in statute; the funds go initially to the Governor of each state.
Sequestration A federal budgetary term that refers to the permanent cancellation of budget authority.
Shuttle A public or private vehicle that travels back and forth over a particular route, especially a short route or one that provides connections between transportation systems, employment centers, etc.
Sightseeing Bus See "Bus, Sightseeing."
Small Bus See "Bus, Small."
Standard-Size Bus See "Bus, Standard-Size."
State Implementation Plan (SIP) A state plan mandated by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA) that contains procedures to monitor, control, maintain and enforce compliance with national standards for air quality.
Streetcar See "Rail, Light."
Subscription Bus See "Bus, Subscription."
Suburban Rail See "Rail, Commuter."
Subway See "Rail, Heavy."
Supplemental Appropriation An act appropriating funds in addition to those in an annual appropriation act because the need for funds is too urgent to be postponed until enactment of the next regular appropriation act.
Trackless Trolley See "Bus, Trolley."
Tramway See "Rail, Light."
Transfer Center A fixed location where passengers interchange from one route or vehicle to another.
Transit See "Public Transportation."
Transit 2000 An industry effort undertaken in the late 1980s and early 1990s to develop public policies allowing transit to achieve its greatest potential for the rest for the 20th century and beyond; recommendations included turning transit systems into managers of mobility, broadening transit's definition to include ridesharing and other high occupancy vehicle programs, enhancing local decision-making aut hority, increasing federal funding and raising the federal gasoline tax.
Transit Bus See "Bus, Transit."
Transit Pass A tax-free employee commute benefit in which an employer subsidizes up to $60 per month for an employee's transit fares or vanpool charges. This benefit also applies to military and government employees.
Transit System An organization (public or private) providing local or regional multi-occupancy-vehicle passenger service. Organizations that provide service under contract to another agency are generally not counted as separate systems.
Transport Workers Union (TWU) One of the major labor unions in the transit industry; membership is limited to operators, mechanics and other non-supervisory employees of the transit industry.
Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) A program of intermodal transportation projects, to be implemented over several years, growing out of the planning process and designed to improve transportation in a community. This program is required as a condition of a locality receiving federal transit and highway grants.
Trolley Bus See "Bus, Trolley."
Trolley Car See "Rail, Light."
Trolley Coach See "Bus, Trolley."
Trust Funds Funds collected and used by the federal government for carrying out specific purposes and programs according to terms of a trust agreement or statute, such as the Social Security and highway trust funds. Trust funds are administered by the government in a fiduciary capacity and are not available for the general purposes of the government. See "Dedicated Funding Source."
United Transportation Union (UTU) One of the major labor unions in the transit industry; membership is limited to operators, mechanics and other non-supervisory employees of the transit industry.
Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) See "Federal Transit Administration (FTA)."
Urbanized Area (UZA) An U.S. Bureau of Census-designated area of 50,000 or more inhabitants consisting of a central city or two adjacent cities plus surrounding densely settled territory, but excluding the rural portion of cities.
Van See "(Bus), Van."
Vanpool An arrangement in which a group of passengers share the use and cost of a van in traveling to and from pre-arranged destinations together.
Variable Cost A cost that varies in relation to the level of operational activity.
Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) A business owned and operated by one or more women.
Zone Fares A system of fares where a transit system's service area is divided into zones within which specified rates or fares apply.

For more information send e-mail to:

Some of these pages may include links to documents in the Adobe PDF format. Please download the Adobe PDF reader if you have not already done so.