Glossary of Transit Terms
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
These terms are used throughout the Short
Range Transit Plan document and its appendices. These terms are commonly used
within the transit industry.
Above Grade The location of
a structure or transit guideway above the surface of the ground (also known as
elevated or aerial).
Buses operating in regular service
with wheelchair lifts, kneeling functions or other devices that permit disabled
passengers to use the service.
(1) The extent to which facilities are barrier free and useable by disabled
persons, including wheelchair users. (2) A measure of the ability or ease of all
people to travel among various origins and destinations.
Center An area with high population and
concentrated activities which generate a large number of trips (e.g., CBD,
shopping centers, business or industrial parks, recreational facilities (also
known as trip generator).
Alight To get off a transit
vehicle. Plural: alightings.
Alignment The horizontal and
vertical ground plan of a roadway, railroad, transit route or other
Allocation An administrative
distribution of funds, for example, federal funds among the states; used for
funds that do not have legislatively mandated distribution formula.
Alternative Fuel A
liquid or gaseous nonpetroleum fuel, used to power transit vehicles. Usually
refers to alcohol fuels, mineral fuels, natural gas, and hydrogen.
The morning commute period, about two hours, in which the
greatest movement of passengers occurs, generally from home to work; the portion
of the morning service period where the greatest level of ridership is
experienced and service provided.
Synonyms: AM Rush, Early Peak, Morning Peak, Morning Rush,
Morning Commission, Hour
AMTRAK (National Railroad Passenger
Corporation) A quasi-public corporation created by the federal Rail Passenger
Service Act of 1970 to improve and develop intercity passenger rail service
throughout the United States. Operates a depot in downtown Sacramento.
with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) The 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.
APP AR An abbreviation for
approximate arrival time point. RT's operating policy permits driver
discretion to depart these time points
up to three minutes earlier than specific time noted in the schedule.
Appropriation An act of
Congress that permits federal agencies to incur obligations and make payments
for specific purposes.
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
The location of a structure or transit guideway at the same
level as the ground surface.
substantive federal legislation that established or continues the legal
operation of federal program agencies, either indefinitely or for a specific
period of time.
Counts (APC) (predates "smart technology") A technology installed on
transit vehicles that counts the number of boarding and alighting passengers at
each stop while also noting the time. Passengers are counted using either pulse
beams or step treadles located at each door. Stop location is generally
identified through use of either global positioning systems (GPS) or signpost
transmitters in combination with vehicle odometers.
Synonyms: Smart Counters
Location (AVL) A system that senses, at intervals, the monitors the
real-time location of transit vehicles carrying special electronic equipment
that communicates a signal back to a central control facility, locating the
vehicle and providing other information about its operations or about its
Board To go onto or
into a transit vehicle. Plural: Boardings.
Branch One of multiple route
segments served by a single route.
A rubber-tired road vehicle designed to carry a substantial number
of passengers (i.e., 10 or more), commonly operated on streets and highways for
public transportation service.
Bus berthing area in a facility such as a transit center or
Bus Hours The total hours of
travel by bus, including both revenue service and deadhead travel.
Synonyms: Vehicle Hours
A lane of roadway intended primarily for use by buses, either
all day or during specified periods.
Synonyms: Transit Priority
A curbside place where passengers board or alight
Bus Miles The total miles of
travel by bus, including both revenue and deadhead travel.
Synonyms: Vehicle Miles
constructed near a bus stop to provide seating and protection from the weather
for the convenience of waiting passengers.
Turnout Cutout in the roadside to permit a
transit vehicle to dwell at a curb.
Busway A special roadway designed
for exclusive use by buses. It may be constructed at, above, or below grade and
may be located in separate rights-of-way or within highway corridors.
assets, such as property, buildings, roads, rail lines, and vehicles.
Costs Costs of long-term assets of a public
transit system such as property, buildings, vehicles, etc.
Capital Improvement Program
The list of capital projects for a five to seven year
Project Construction and/or procurement of
district assets, such as transit centers, transit vehicles and track.
An arrangement where people share the use and cost of a
privately owned automobile in traveling to and from pre-arranged
Business District (CBD)
An area of a city that
contains the greatest concentration of commercial activity, the Downtown. The
traditional 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.
Rail Local and regional passenger train
service between a central city, its suburbs and/or another central city,
operating primarily during commutes hours. Designed to transport passengers from
their residences to their job sites. Differs from rail rapid transit in that the
passenger cars generally are heavier, the average trip lengths are usually
longer, and the operations are carried out over tracks that are part of the
A broad geographical
band that follows a general directional flow or connects major sources of trips.
It may contain a number of streets and highways and many transit lines and
Non-radial bus service that normally does not enter the Central Business
Load The maximum passenger capacity of a
vehicle, in which there is little or no space between passengers (i.e., the
passengers are touching one another) and one more passenger cannot enter without
causing serious discomfort to the others.
Deadhead There are two types of deadhead or
non-revenue bus travel time:
(1) Bus travel to or from the garage and a
terminus point where revenue service begins or ends;
(2) A bus travel between the end of service
on one route to the beginning of another.
Synonyms: Non-Revenue Time
Deboard To get on
or into a transit vehicle.
With respect to an individual, a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of
such an individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having
such an impairment.
Discretionary Subject to the
discretion of legislators or an administrator. The federal Section 5309 New
Starts Program is an example of a discretionary program.
Service Express service is deployed in one of two general
(1) A service generally connecting residential areas and
activity centers via a high speed, non-stop connection, e.g., a freeway, or
exclusive right-of-way such as a dedicated busway with limited stops at each end
for collection and distribution. Residential collection can be exclusively or
partially undertaken using park-and-ride facilities.
(2) Service operated non-stop over a portion of an arterial in
conjunction with other local services. The need for such service arises where
passenger demand between points on a corridor is high enough to separate demand
and support dedicated express trips.
Synonyms: Rapids (1 or 2), Commuter Express (1), Flyers
A right-of-way that is fully
grade separated or access controlled and is used exclusively by
Board Operators who have no assigned run but
are used to cover runs deliberately left open by the scheduling department
(extra runs), or runs that are open because of the absence of regularly assigned
Payment in the form of
coins, bills, tickets and tokens collected for transit rides.
A device that accepts the coins, bills, tickets and tokens
given by passengers as payment for rides.
Ratio A measure of the proportion of transit operating expenses
covered by passenger fares. It is calculated by dividing a transit operators
fare box revenue by its total operating expenses.
Synonyms: Fare Recovery Ratio
Farebox Revenue The
value of cash, tickets and pass receipts given by passengers as payment for
public transit rides.
Revenue Total revenue derived from the payment
of passenger fares.
Synonyms: Passenger Revenue
The method by which fares
are collected and accounted for in a public transportation system.
Elasticity The extent to which ridership
responds to fare increases or decreases.
Structure The system set up to determine how
much is to be paid by various passengers using the system at any given
(FTA, formerly UMTA, Urban Mass
Transit Administration) A part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
which administers the federal program of financial assistance to public
Feeder Service Service
that picks up and delivers passengers to a regional mode at a rail station,
express bus stop, transit center, terminal, Park-and-Ride, or other transfer
Cost An indirect cost that remains relatively
constant irrespective of the level of operational activity.
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
buses, and ferryboats as fixed-guideway transit.
Fixed Route Transit service
provided on a repetitive, fixed-schedule basis along a specific route, with
vehicles stopping to pick up passengers at and deliver passengers to specific
The amount of time scheduled between consecutive buses or
trains on a given route segment; in other words, how often the bus or train
comes (also known as Headway).
Full Funding Grant
Agreement (FFGA) An agreement executed by the federal government with
a public transit operator that assures the operator of the federal governments
intention to fully fund the federal share of a New Starts project.
FY (Fiscal Year) A
yearly accounting period designated by the calendar year in which it ends (e.g.
FY 2000). The fiscal year for the federal government runs from October 1 to
September 30. The fiscal year for both the state of California and RT runs from
July 1 to June 30.
Garage The place
where revenue vehicles are stored and maintained and from where they are
dispatched and recovered for the delivery of scheduled service.
Synonyms: Barn, Base, Depot, District, Division, O/M
Facility (ops/maint), Yard
Separated A crossing of two forms of
transportation paths (e.g., light rail tracks and a highway) at different levels
to permit unconstrained operation.
Headway The scheduled time interval between any two
revenue vehicles operating in the same direction on a route. Headways may be
LOAD driven, that is, developed on the basis of demand and loading standards or,
POLICY based, i.e., dictated by policy decisions such as service every 30
minutes during the peak periods and every 60 minutes during the base period.
Synonyms: Frequency, Schedule, Vehicle Spacing
Heavy Rail An electric
railway with capacity for a heavy volume of traffic, and characterized by
exclusive rights-of-way, high speed and rapid acceleration. Heavy rail is
different from commuter rail and light rail.
Synonyms: Subway, elevated railway, rapid
Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)
Vehicles that can
carry more than two persons. Examples of high occupancy vehicles are a bus,
vanpool and carpool.
A traffic lane in a street or highway reserved for high
occupancy vehicles, which may include two person vehicles in some
Incident Traffic or passenger accident that
include collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians or fixed object, and
passenger accidents while boarding, on-board, or disembarking the transit
Intercity Rail A long
distance passenger rail transportation system between at least two central
cities that, in California, traditionally has been provided by AMTRAK either
directly or through a local Joint Powers Authority.
Interlining Interlining is
used in two ways: Interlining allows the use of the same revenue vehicle and/or
operator on more than one route without going back to the garage. Interlining is
often considered as a means to minimize vehicle requirements as well as a method
to provide transfer enhancement for passengers. For interlining to be feasible,
two (or more) routes must share a common terminus or be reasonably proximate to
each other (see DEADHEAD).
Synonyms: Through Routes, Interlock Routes,
Switching from one
form of transportation to another.
Facility A building or site specifically
designed to accommodate the meeting of two or more transit modes of
Development of land or airspace by a public or private entity at RT property
where the RT Board has determined that there is excess property rights and the
proposed development will not interfere with the existing or planned transit use
of the property.
Authority A group of representatives from several entities that have
agreed to undertake a joint venture. There are two JPAs in the Sacramento
region: the Capitol Corridor JPA which administers the Capitols intercity rail
passenger service between Sacramento and San Jose, and the
Sacramento-Placerville Transportation Corridor JPA, which administers the
historic right-of-way between Sacramento and Placerville, a portion of which
contains RT light rail service.
Ride A place where commuters are driven and
left at a station to board a public transportation vehicle.
Layover Layover time serves two major functions:
recovery time for the schedule to ensure on-time departure for the next trip
and, in some systems, operator rest or break time between trips. Layover time is
often determined by labor agreement, requiring "off-duty" time after a certain
amount of driving time.
Light Rail Transit
(LRT) An electric railway with a light volume traffic capacity compared with
Synonyms: Streetcar, trolley car and tramway
Modern-day term for a streetcar
type of transit vehicle, e.g., tram or trolley car.
Service Higher speed train or bus service
where designated vehicles stop only at transfer points or major activity
centers, usually about every 1/2 mile. Limited stop service is usually provided
on major trunk lines operating during a certain part of the day or in a
specified area in addition to local service that makes all stops. As opposed to
express service, there is not usually a significant stretch of non-stop
Trips A linked passenger trip is a trip from origin to destination on
the transit system. Even if a passenger must make several transfers during a one
way journey, the trip is counted as one linked trip on the system. Unlinked
passenger trips count each boarding as a separate trip regardless of
Factor The ratio of passengers actually
carried versus the total passenger seating capacity of a vehicle. A load factor
of greater than 1.0 indicates that there are standees on that
Service A type of operation that involves
frequent stops and consequent low speeds, the purpose of which is to deliver and
pick up transit passengers as close to their destinations or origins as
Maximum Load Point The location(s) along a
route where the vehicle passenger load is the greatest. The maximum load
point(s) generally differ by direction and may also be unique to each of the
daily operating periods. Long or complex routes may have multiple maximum load
Measure A Refers to the 1988
ballot measure that provides 1/3 of 1/2 cent of sales tax revenue for transit in
Minibus A rubber-tired road
vehicle designed to carry a small number of passengers (i.e., 12 or less),
commonly operated on streets and highways for public transportation service.
Missed Trip A schedule trip
that did not operate for a variety of reasons including operator absence,
vehicle failure, dispatch error, traffic, accident or other unforeseen
A particular form of travel (e.g., bus commuter tail, train,
bicycle, walking or automobile.
Split The proportion of people that use each
of the various modes of transportation. Also describes the process of allocating
the proportion of people using modes. Frequently used to describe the percentage
of people using private automobiles as opposed to the percentage using public
An analytical tool (often mathematical) used by transportation
planners to assist in making forecasts of land use, economic activity, and
Pass A prepaid farecard or ticket, valid for
unlimited riding within certain designated zones for one-month
A bus route network that is designed to make it easy to
travel by transit between any two points in the service area.
The configuration of
streets or transit routes and stops that constitutes the total
New Starts Federal funding
granted under Section 5309 (B) of the United States Code. These discretionary
funds are made available for the construction of new fixed guideway systems or
extensions of existing fixed guideway systems.
Off-Peak Non-rush periods of the day when travel activity is
generally lower and less transit service is scheduled.
Operating Maintaining the
ongoing functions of an agency or service. Operating expenses include wages,
benefits, supplies, and services. Operating assistance is used to pay for the
costs of providing public transit service.
Cost The total costs to operate and maintain a
transit system including labor, fuel, maintenance, wages and salaries, employee
benefits, taxes, etc.
Expense Monies paid in salaries and wages;
settlement of claims, maintenance of equipment and buildings, and rentals of
equipment and facilities.
Ratio A measure of transit system expense
recovery obtained by dividing total operating revenues by total operating
Revenue Revenue derived from passenger fares.
See also Farebox
Speed The rate of speed at which a vehicle in
safely operated under prevailing traffic and environmental
An employee of a transit system who spends his or her working
day in the operation of a vehicle, e.g., bus driver, streetcar motorman, trolley
coach operator, cablecar gripman, rapid transit train motorman, conductor,
The location of the beginning of a trip or the zone in which a trip
begins. Also known as a Trip End.
A study of the origins and destinations of trips made by vehicles
Service that operates during the late night/early morning hours or
all night service, usually between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Transportation service required by ADA for individuals with disabilities who are
unable to use fixed-route transit systems. The service must be comparable to the
Park-and-Ride A parking area
for automobile drivers who then board vehicles, shuttles or carpools from these
A means of transit prepayment, usually a card that carries some
identification that is displayed to the driver or conductor in place of paying a
A person who rides a transportation vehicle, excluding the
Passenger Check A check
(count) made of passengers arriving at, boarding and alighting, leaving from, or
passing through one or more points on a route. Checks are conducted by riding
(ridecheck) or at specific locations (point check). Passenger checks are
conducted in order to obtain information on passenger riding that will assist in
determining both appropriate directional headways on a route and the
effectiveness of the route alignment. They are also undertaken to meet FTA
Section 15 reporting requirements and to calibrate revenue-based ridership
Passenger Miles A
measure of service utilization which represents the cumulative sum of the
distances ridden by each passenger. It is normally calculated by summation of
the passenger load times the distance between individual bus stops. For example,
ten passengers riding in a transit vehicle for two miles equals 20 passenger
Fares paid by passenger traveling aboard transit vehicles.
Period The period with the highest ridership during the entire service
day, generally referring to either the peak hour or peak several hours (peak
Synonyms: Commission Hour
Pick The selection process by which
operators are allowed to select new work assignments, i.e., run or the Extra
Board in the next (forthcoming) schedule.
Synonyms: Bid, Mark-up, Line-up, Shake-up, Sign-up
Program (1) verb, to assign
funds to a project; (2) noun, a system of funding for implementing
transportation projects or policies.
Pull-In Time The
non-revenue time assigned for the movement of a revenue vehicle from its last
scheduled terminus or stop to the garage.
Synonyms: Turn-In Time, Deadhead Time, Run-off Time
Pull-Out Time The
non-revenue time assigned for the movement of a revenue vehicle from the garage
to its first scheduled terminus or stop.
Synonyms: Deadhead Time, Run-on Time
Service Local or express service designed
primarily to connect the Central Business District with outlying
Receipts derived from or for the operation of transit service
including farebox revenue, revenue from other commercial sources, and operating
assistance from governments. Farebox revenue includes all fare, transfer
charges, and zone charges paid by transit passengers.
Recovery Time Recovery
time is distinct from layover, although they are usually combined together.
Recovery time is a planned time allowance between the arrival time of a just
completed trip and the departure time of the next trip in order to allow the
route to return to schedule if traffic, loading, or other conditions have made
the trip arrive late. Recovery time is considered as reserve running time and
typically, the operator will remain on duty during the recovery period.
Synonyms: Layover Time
Revenue Vehicle Hour
The measure of scheduled hours of service available to passengers for
transport on the routes, equivalent to one transit vehicle traveling in one hour
in revenue service, excluding deadhead hours but including recovery/layover
time. Calculated for each route.
Revenue Service When a
revenue vehicle is in operation over a route and is available to the public for
Miles Miles operated by vehicles available for
Passenger A passenger from whom a fare is
Commute Movement in a direction opposite to
the main flow of travel, such as from the Central City to a suburb during the
morning commute hour.
A form of
transportation, other than public transit, in which more than one person shares
in the use of the vehicle, such as a van or car, to make a trip.
The number of rides taken by people using a public
transportation system in a given time period.
Right-of-Way (ROW, R/W) The
land over which a public road or rail line is built. An exclusive right-of-way
is a road, lane, or other right-of-way designated exclusively for a specific
purpose or for a particular group of users, such as light rail vehicles or
Call A mechanical failure of a bus in revenue
service that causes a delay to service, and which necessitates removing the bus
from service until repairs are made.
Supervisor The individual who is responsible
for keeping buses or trains on schedule.
Rolling Stock The vehicles
used in a transit system, including buses and rail cars.
Route A specified
path taken by a transit vehicle usually designated by a number or a name, along
which passengers are picked up or discharged.
Miles The total number of miles included in a
fixed route transit system network.
Running Time The time
assigned for the movement of a revenue vehicle over a route, usually done on a
[route] segment basis by various time of day.
Synonyms: Travel Time
Sacramento Area Council of
Governments (SACOG) The regional
transportation planning agency covering the greater Sacramento Metropolitan
area. SACOG is responsible for reviewing applications and distributing federal
and state transportation grants and allocation of certain transportation
Schedule From the transit agency
(not the public timetable), a document that, at a minimum, shows the time of
each revenue trip through the designated time points. Many properties include
additional information such as route descriptions, deadhead times and amounts,
interline information, run numbers, block numbers, etc.
Synonyms: Headway, Master Schedule, Timetable, Operating
Schedule, Recap/ Supervisors Guide
The planning of
vehicle arrivals and departures and the operators for these vehicles to meet
consumer demand along specified routes.
Area A geographic area which is provided with
transit services. Service area is now defined consistent with ADA
Service Span The span of
hours over which service is operated, e.g., 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 24 hr (owl).
Service span often varies by weekday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Synonyms: Span of Service, Service Day
Standards A benchmark by which service
operations performance is evaluated. These standards are provided in the Short
Range Transit Plan.
Subsidy Funds granted by federal,
state or local government.
Time Point A
designated location and time that a bus or LR vehicle can arrive before but
not leave earlier than the stated time as indicated in the route schedule.
Timed Transfer A point or
location where two or more routes come together at the same time to provide
positive transfer connections. A short layover may be provided at the timed
transfer point to enhance the connection. Timed transfers have had increasing
application as service frequencies have been reduced below 15 to 20 minutes and
hub-and-spoke network deployment has grown.
Synonyms: Pulse Transfer, Positive Transfer
A slip of paper issued to a passenger that gives him or her
the right to change from one transit vehicle to another according to specified
Center A fixed location where passengers
transfer from one route to another.
Corridor A broad geographic band that follows
a general route alignment such as a roadway of rail right-of-way and includes a
service area within that band that would be accessible to the transit
Passenger A passenger who transfers to a line
after paying a fare on another line.
Dependent Someone who must use public
transportation for his/her travel.
Priority A means by which transit vehicles are
given an advantage over other traffic, e.g., preemption of traffic signals or
transit priority lanes.
Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) The 1998 law that
reauthorizes federal surface transportation programs for six years (FY 1998 to
FY 2003). TEA-21 preserves much of the basic programmatic structure of its
predecessor, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA).
Travel Time The time allows
for an operator to travel between the garage and a remote relief point.
Synonyms: Relief Time, Travel Allowance
Trip The one-way operation of a
revenue vehicle between two terminal points on a route. Trips are generally
noted as inbound, outbound, eastbound, westbound, etc. to identify
directionality when being discussed or printed.
Synonyms: Journey, One-Way Trip
Total Miles The total miles
includes revenue, deadhead, and yard (maintenance and servicing) miles.
Passenger Trips The total number of passengers who board public
transit vehicles. A passenger is counted each time he/she boards a revenue
vehicle even though the boarding may be the result of a transfer from another
route to complete the same one-way journey. Where linked or unlinked is not
designated, unlinked is assumed.
Synonyms: Passengers, Passenger Trips
Trip A trip taken by an individual on one
specific mode. A linked trip may involve two or more unlinked trips.
Urban Mass Transportation
Administration See Federal
Cost A cost that varies in relation to the
level of operational activity.
Miles The number of miles traveled by a
vehicle, and are usually calculated by mode.
device used to raise and lower a platform in a transit vehicle for accessibility
by handicapped individuals.
Yard An area in a system used for maintenance, storing or