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absolute block : A block into which no train may enter
while it is occupied by another train.
ABA : American Bus Association. Trade group for private
Access Board : Common name for the Architectural and
Transportation Barriers Board, the federal agency that develops
and enforces guidelines for accessible facilities.
accessibility : Ability of vehicles and facilities
to accommodate the disabled.
ADA : Americans With Disabilities Act. Mandates specific
requirements for vehicles and facilities such as stations and terminals
to accommodate the disabled.
ADB : Advanced Design Bus. Model of transit bus introduced
AFC: Automatic fare collection.
air bleeding : Removal of air from a hydraulic system
such as brakes or power steering.
Air Resources Board : California state agency that
writes air quality standards, the only agency with such powers outside
the federal EPA.
allocation : Method for dividing federal funds among
states when no apportionment formula exists for that money.
alternatives analysis : Analysis of engineering and
financial feasibility for major transit project required before
federal funds can be allocated. Replaced in ISTEA with major
investment studies (MIS).
alternative fuels : Those other than the traditional
gasoline and diesel.
ANPRM: Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, e.g.,
from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Also, ANPR.
apportionment : Method for dividing federal funds
appropriation : Annual congressional process in which
authorized funds are approved for release. It can be less than,
but not exceed, authorized levels.
APTA : American Public Transit Association. National,
nonprofit trade association representing the public transit industry.
articulated bus : Two-part, high-occupancy bus that
bends in the middle like an accordion.
aspect ratio : Percentage used to express the ratio
of a tire's height to its width. Also called tire profile.
ATTB : Advanced Technology Transit Bus. A federally
funded transit bus research project managed by the Los Angeles County
Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
ATU : Amalgamated Transit Union. Major union representing
transit industry workers.
authorization : Level of funding designated by Congress
automated guideway transit (AGT) : Electric fixed-guideway
transit operating without operators or other crew on board.
AVL : Automatic Vehicle Location system. Senses, at
intervals, location of vehicles which carry special sensing equipment
that send signals to central control.
barrel : In petroleum, 42 gallons.
base period : Between the morning and evening rush
hours when transit is scheduled at regular intervals. Also called
benefit assessment district : District around an intermodal
facility where a portion of subsequent increases in tax revenue
go directly to the transit district.
beveled slope : Required under ADA for changes in
level between one-quarter and one-half inch; with beveling, the
slope is flatter than 1:2.
bid sheet : Form that describes vehicle being purchased,
unit price, total price and amount of bid.
bi-fueled vehicle : One with two separate fuel systems
designed to run on either a conventional or alternative fuel, using
one fuel at a time.
bi-gas : A synthetic gas made from coal.
biodiesel : Vehicle fuel made from plant matter and
commonly mixed with diesel in engines.
block signal system : Also called fixed block.
An older method of governing movement of trains along sections or
"blocks" of track by use of wayside or block signals or cab signals.
body-on-chassis vehicle : Standard chassis that has
a separate body built and placed on it. Also called a cutaway.
bogey : Assembly of two or more axles on a rail vehicle.
brake retarder : Device that helps brake a vehicle
without engaging the foundation brakes, extending brake life.
bridge plate : Plate attached to a rail vehicle or
platform that folds into position to form a ramp over the gap between
the vehicle and platform.
brokerage : Matching riders with variety of transportation
providers through centralized dispatching and administration.
BTS : Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Btu : British thermal unit. Measure of heat energy;
one Btu raises the temperature of one lb. of water one degree F
at sea level. One Btu equals 252 calories.
budget authority : Given by Congress to federal agencies
to make money available for expenditure or obligation.
buffer separation : Pavement that separates HOV lane
from adjacent mixed-flow freeway lane.
bus shelter : Structure at a bus stop providing seats
and protection from inclement weather.
bus testing : Regulation that mandates that all buses
bought with FTA funds pass testing at the facility in Altoona, Pa.
bus turnout : Paved indentation at side of road so
buses can pick up and discharge passengers.
busway : Exclusive freeway lanes for buses and/or
Buy America : Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations
that requires certain percentages of vehicles' value to be manufactured
in the United States. Final assembly must also be performed in the
CAA : Clean Air Act. Federal legislation that sets air
quality standards. Sometimes cited as CAAA, which usually refers
to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the first major revision
of the original law in 20 years.
cable car : Vehicle operating on fixed rails with
mixed street traffic, moved by cables below the street powered by
engines at a central location away from the vehicles.
CAFE : Corporate average fuel economy.
captive transit rider : One who must use public transportation.
catenary : Overhead support holding wire that supplies
power to a trolleybus or light rail vehicle.
CDL : Commercial Driver's License. Required of all
CFCs : Chlorofluorocarbons. Family of artificially
produced chemicals used as refrigerants, solvents and foam. Are
dangerous; considered "greenhouse gases." Expected to be phased
out by 2000.
CFR : Code of Federal Regulations.
charter : Bus rented by group for short period of
time, usually a few hours to 24 hours.
circulator : Bus or train serving particular location,
usually along a loop-shaped route, such as in a downtown, with connections
to main traffic corridors.
Class I intercity bus : Interstate motor carrier of
passengers with adjusted annual gross operating revenue of at least
$5 million as defined by the Surface Transportation Board.
Class I railroad : One with annual gross operating
revenue of more than $250 million.
clean diesel : Diesel fuel with sulfur content lower
than 0.05 percent.
CMAQ : Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program.
Highway program money in Tea-21 and ISTEA to reduce
congestion and improve air quality.
CNG : Compressed natural gas. Considered to be the
most promising alternative fuel.
commuter railroad : Rapid transit services that typically
use portions of mainline railroad to carry passengers through a
central city and its suburbs.
consist : Railroad equipment on-track, such as a locomotive,
train or single railcar.
contract authority : Budget authority that allows
obligations to be made in advance of appropriations.
contraflow lane : Lane reserved for buses in which
the direction of bus traffic is opposite the flow of traffic in
the other lanes.
crude oil : Mixture of hydrocarbons that exist in
the liquid phase in natural underground reservoirs. Refined crude
produces several fuels including gasoline, residual fuel and distillate
crush load : Maximum vehicle passenger capacity in
which there is little space between passengers.
curb cut : Area at which a street curb has been cut
and sloped so the sidewalk leads smoothly to street and crosswalk.
curb weight : Vehicle weight without passengers.
DB : Design, build. Type of turnkey contracting.
DBE : Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. A business
identified by the Small Business Administration as owned and controlled
by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged people.
D-BOM :Design, build, operate, maintain. Type of
deadhead : Movement of vehicles without passengers,
often to and from a garage.
dead reckoning : When vehicle bearing and speed
are used to estimate vehicle location.
demand-response : Transit service in which passengers
request door-to-door or point-to-point service at a specific time.
Also called dial-a-ride. detectable warning : Raised
dots on floors that contrast with surrounding area to warn the
blind of danger ahead, such as tracks or a street.
diesel fuel : Fuel composed of petroleum distillates
which has a boiling point and specific gravity higher than gasoline:
diesel 1 is used in high-speed diesel engines operated
under wide variations of speed and load such as city buses; diesel
2 is used in high-speed diesel engines operated under uniform
speed and loads such as locomotives and trucks.
discretionary funds : Any funds whose distribution
is not automatic, such as transit assistance. Opposite of entitlement.
distillate fuel : No. 1 and No. 2 heating oil, diesel
fuels and No. 4 fuel oil. Used mainly for space heating, on- and
off-highway diesel engine fuel, locomotive fuel and electric power
dogleg ramp : Ramp with a turn in it.
double-decker : Transit vehicles with a second story.
double track : Two sets of track side by side, most
often used for travel in opposite directions.
downstream : In the direction of traffic.
downtown peoplemover : Automated transport system
that runs on a fixed guideway, usually in the central business
district. One of the types of systems comprising automated
guideway transit (AGT).
dual-fuel system : Type of vehicle propulsion system
that can run on more than one type of fuel, such as diesel and
electricity or diesel and methanol, at the same time.
dwell time : Scheduled time a vehicle is required
to remain at a stop to pick up and discharge passengers.
dynamic ridematch : System to form short-term (one-trip)
carpools, often with jitneys.
earmark : Specific amount set by Congress to be
used for a project.
elasticity : How riders respond to changes in fares.
ergonomics : The field that studies the design of
equipment to eliminate human fatigue and discomfort. Also known
as human factors.
ethanol : Grain alcohol, which is distilled from
fermented organic matter. Can be used as a vehicle fuel.
extra board : Operators who have no assigned run
but are used to cover runs deliberately left open or runs left
open because of absence of assigned operators.
fare elasticity : How ridership responds to fare
increases or decreases.
far-side stop : A bus stop immediately after an
feeder route : Local bus service that moves passengers
to express bus or rail stations.
FFV : Flexible-fuel vehicle. Also, in American train
folklore, fast flying vestibule.
FHWA : Federal Highway Administration. Administers,
plans, funds and regulates federal highway system. Part of DOT.
fixed guideway : System of vehicles that operate
on its own guideway.
fixed route : Transit services that run on regular,
pre-scheduled routes, usually with bus schedules and designated
flexible funds : Federal money that can be used
for transit, highways or other transportation projects, as decided
by MPOs, and state DOTs in small urban and rural
FMCSA : Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Agency within the DOT that regulates bus and truck operational
FMCSR : Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations,
issued by FMCSA.
FMVSS : Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,
issued by NHTSA.
formula funds : Federal funds distributed to transit
agencies according to a formula (usually involving size of population)
as set forth by law.
FRA : Federal Railroad Administration.
FTA : Federal Transit Administration. Administers,
regulates and helps fund all public U.S. transportation. Part
fuel cell : Device that converts the chemical energy
of fuel directly into electricity.
gasification : Process where biomass fuel is reacted
with air and oxygen under pressure to produce gas.
GAWR : Gross Axle Weight Rating. Specified by vehicle
manufacturer as the load carrying capacity of a single-axle system.
gelation index : Oil's tendency to form gelled structures
at cold temperatures.
GIS : Geographical information system.
GPS : Global Positioning System. Satellite system
used to locate objects-such as buses-with special computer components,
anywhere on Earth.
grab bar : Bar mounted on wall to help disabled sit
greenhouse effect : Sequence in which solar radiation
is absorbed by the earth, but cannot dissipate back into space and
thus results in a steady rise in temperature of the atmosphere,
or global warming.
gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) : Loaded weight,
with passengers, of a vehicle.
HAZMAT : Hazardous material, as designated by the secretary
headway : Time intervals between vehicles moving
in the same direction on a particular route.
heavy-duty vehicles : Those with GVWR of 8,500 lbs.
heavy rail : Electric rail transit system with exclusive
right-of-way and high volume of passengers. Called subways,
elevateds (or "els") and metros.
high-speed rail : System in densely traveled corridors
that runs at speeds of at least 124 mph.
Highway Trust Fund : Aid fund administered by FHWA.
Most funds for highway improvement are apportioned to states with
formulas that give weight to population, area and mileage.
horsepower : Measurement of engine's ability to
perform work. One horsepower is the ability to lift 33,000 lbs.
one foot in one minute.
HOV : High occupancy vehicles. Those that can carry
two or more passengers.
hybrid bus : One that runs on hybrid propulsion.
A vehicle power system that runs on electrical power supplied
by an onboard generator powered by an internal combustion engine.
inclined plane : Electric passenger vehicle on steep
grades propelled by moving cables attached to the vehicles. Also
inclined railway. intercity bus : Large bus with
front doors only, high-back seats and luggage storage for high-speed,
interlining : One bus company or transportation
mode accepting the passengers of another.
ISTEA : Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency
Act of 1991. Legislation authorizing $155 billion for highways
and mass transportation for 1992-97.
jitney : Private vehicles usually run on a fixed
route but not a fixed schedule. From the word "jit," which meant
a nickel in the early days of the century, which is what touring
cars charged passengers they picked up along streetcar lines.
joint development : Projects undertaken by the public
and private sectors. Usually refers to real estate projects and
transit projects undertaken adjacent, above and/or below each
other as a means of financing transit projects with minimal public
kiosk : Freestanding, often cylindrical, device that displays
bus and train schedules and other passenger information.
kiss and ride : Station where commuters are driven by private
car and dropped off to board a public transit vehicle.
kneeling bus : One in which front end is lowered so disabled
passengers can more easily get on and off.
layover time : Time built into a schedule between
arrival and departure.
layover zone : Designated stopover point at or near
the end of the line.
leaf springs : Flexible suspension devices composed
of a number of stacked steel spring leaves held together with
a central clamp.
life cycle procurement : Form of competitive procurement
in which contract is awarded based on both the initial capital
cost and the cost of operation over the life of the vehicle.
light-duty vehicle : those with a GVWR of 8,500
lbs. or less.
light rail : Electric rail transit with "light"
volume of traffic capacity, as compared to "heavy" rail. May be
on exclusive or shared right-of-way. Includes streetcars, trams
and trolleycars. Usually has overhead electric wires.
linehaul : Regular, intercity passenger bus or rail
LNG : Liquefied Natural Gas. An alternative fuel.
Natural gas that has been turned into a liquid by extreme cooling.
load factor : Ratio of passengers actually carried
vs. vehicle passenger capacity.
low-bid procurement : Type of competitive procurement
in which the lowest bidder gets contract.
low-floor vehicle : One which has entrance way and
floor closer to the ground, for easier access by those with disabilities.
low-sulfur oil : Oil with one percent or less of
sulfur by weight.
LPG : Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Mixture of gaseous
hydrocarbons, mainly butane and propane, that can be changed into
liquid by increasing pressure.
LRT : Light Rail Transit.
LRV : Light Rail Vehicle.
M85 : Fuel mixture of 85 percent methanol and 15 percent
maglev : Magnetic levitation. Permits trains to move
at high speed just above a fixed guideway, propelled by magnetic
match : State or local funds required by the federal
government to complement federal money for a project.
MBE : Minority business enterprise. Business owned
and controlled by people defined as minorities under federal DOT
regulations for federally financed projects.
medium-size bus : Bus 29 to 34 feet long.
methane : Light hydrocarbon that is the main component
of marsh gas and natural gas.
methanol : Light, flammable alcohol. Also called wood
alcohol and methyl alcohol.
mineral oils : Fossil fuel oils.
monorail : System in which vehicles run on a fixed
rail or beam.
motorcoach : Over-the-road bus, usually with three
axles, with luggage storage and more plush than a transit bus.
MPO : Metropolitan Planning Organization. Local group
that selects projects, highways and transit to be given funds.
MRO : Medical Review Officer. Doctor who handles lab
results for employee drug-testing programs.
neat fuel : One not diluted with other fuels.
negotiated procurement : Method of public-sector procurement
that allows purchasers and bidders to negotiate some portions of
bid specifications before best and final offers (BAFOs) are submitted.
New Look Bus : Buses manufactured between 1959 and
1978, with larger windows than "old look" buses.
new start : Discretionary federal funds for new or
extended fixed guideway systems.
NGV : Natural Gas Vehicle.
NHTSA : National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
nonattainment area : U.S. region not attaining EPA
standards for air pollutants.
nonregistering fareboxes : The driver must check each
time to see if proper fare was deposited.
NOx : Oxides of nitrogen. A chief component of air
pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuel. These vehicle emissions
regulated by the EPA.
NPRM : Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (by the federal
NTI : National Transit Institute. At Rutgers University
in New Brunswick, NJ.
NTSB : National Transportation Safety Board.
obligation limit : Annual ceiling set by Congress
on amount a state may obligate during a fiscal year.
OD study : Study of the origins and destinations of
trips by vehicles or passengers.
OEM : Original Equipment Manufacturer.
operating costs : All costs involved with running
a transit system; separate from capital costs.
over-the-road coach : Large bus with luggage storage
for intercity transportation.
oxygenate : Prime ingredient of reformulated gasoline.
The increased oxygen content promotes more complete combustion.
ozone : Triatomic oxygen (O3). Forms naturally in
the upper atmosphere where it protects Earth from ultraviolet rays
from the sun. Also forms as a pollutant and respiratory irritant
in lower atmosphere from a reaction from vehicle exhaust.
paddle : Schedule for each bus showing all trips in
a day, including arrival and departure times.
paratransit : Public transit service more flexible
than fixed route. Includes carpooling, shared rides and, most
commonly, special service for the elderly and disabled.
park-and-ride lot : Lot to which passengers drive
their cars, leave them for the day and board transit vehicles.
particulate trap : Device on diesel buses to clean
exhaust of particulate matter.
passenger miles : Total number of miles traveled
by passengers on a vehicle. (One bus with 10 passengers traveling
10 miles equals 100 passenger miles.)
platooned flow : The grouping of moving pedestrians
because of traffic impedance.
PM-10 : Particulate matter with a diameter less
than 10 micrometers.
positive train separation : Moving-block signaling
system that maintains and verifies separation of separate trains
both before and behind each train on a line.
propane : Gas that is present in natural gas and
also refined from crude oil.
pulse point : Where two or more bus routes converge.
pusher : Bus or train with rear engine.
push-pull : Train with locomotives at both ends.
rapid rail : Synonym for heavy rail.
rapid transit : Synonym for fixed-guideway public
transport (usually rail).
regenerative braking : An electric drive motor and
controller system that can convert an electric vehicle's momentum
into electricity to recharge the batteries. Also called rheostatic
registering fareboxes : Fare is counted and displayed
replacement fuel : Any fuel that the secretary of
energy determines is not petroleum and would yield substantial
energy security and environmental benefits.
residual fuel oil : topped crude of refineries,
including No. 5 and No. 6, used for producing electricity, space
heating and other purposes.
reverse commute : Trips in direction opposite to
main flow of traffic.
reversible facility : HOV lane which can be reversed
to match direction of peak travel.
RFP : Request for Proposals.
rolling stock : Vehicles in a transit system, such
as railcars and buses.
route deviation service : Public transportation
on a fixed route that may deviate from the route from time to
time. Also, point deviation.
route miles : Total number of miles in a fixed-route
RTAP : Rural Transit Assistance Program. FTA program
offering aid for rural transit systems.
RTIP : Regional Transportation Improvement Program.
run cutting : Scheduling individual assignments
or "runs" on a particular route.
run pick : Selection by drivers of assignments.
Section 3 : Former Federal Transit Act section that authorizes
discretionary grants for capital projects.
Section 18 : Former Federal Transit Act section that
authorizes capital and operating grants for non-urban areas.
server : In queuing theory, that which performs the
service and enables the queue to discharge.
shear stability : Percentage of viscosity lost during
slack adjuster : Adjustable device on the brake chamber
pushrod used to make up for brake shoe wear.
smart card : Farecard system of small plastic cards
with a microchip containing financial and other data.
stair nosing : Part of the step that extends outward
from the vertical surface.
station car : Very small vehicle for short-term rental
at a station.
stored-value card : Type of farecard in which an amount
is stored and deducted automatically by machine when a ride is taken.
strategic petroleum reserve : Government-controlled
crude oil stored in the Gulf Coast. Target reserve is 750 million
barrels of oil. They can be used only by presidential authorization.
streetcar : Electric transit vehicle railway run with
mixed traffic on streets, usually single cars boarded from street
level. Also called trams in Europe.
suburban bus : With front doors only, and usually
with high-back seats, no luggage compartments or restrooms, for
use for longer distances with few stops.
synthetic oils : Can be completely man-made or super-refined
from mineral oils.
tare weight : Curb weight plus weight of mounted body.
TCRP : Transit Cooperative Research Program. A cooperative
effort of the industry, TRB and FTA in which the
industry determines research priorities.
TDM : Transportation Demand Management. Low-cost ways to
reduce demand by cars on the transportation system.
TEA-21 : Federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st
century. The surface transport authorizing law for fiscal years
1998 to 2003.
TIP : Transportation Improvement Program. Federally mandated
state program of projects to be implemented over several years.
tour : Bus rented by group for longer periods of time,
usually a few days to a few weeks. Some tours are regularly scheduled;
some are also escorted by a tour guide.
transfer center : Place where passengers change routes
or modes of transportation.
transit bus : One designed for frequent stops with front
and back-center doors, traditionally with a rear-mounted diesel
engine and low-back seating.
transitway : Exclusive road or lane designated for buses
and other transit vehicles.
Transport Workers Union (TWU) : Major transit labor union.
TRB : Transportation Research Board. Arm of the National
tripper : Assignment of work to a driver not long enough
to qualify as a run or full day's work.
trolleybus : Rubber-tired bus that draws power from overhead
electric wires. Not to be confused with motor buses that have
been outfitted to resemble vintage streetcars.
turnkey : Type of privatization in which a transit agency
hires a single company or consortium to supply systems, drivers,
maintenance, management and/or vehicles. Concept has also been
expanded to construction and operation of transit facilities,
such as rapid transit systems or transportation terminals.
UITP: Union Internationale des Transports Public. International
transit trade group, with headquarters in Brussels.
UMA: United Motorcoach Association. Trade group representing
private bus owners. Formerly United Bus Owners of America.
UMTA: Urban Mass Transit Administration. Predecessor to FTA.
unlinked passenger trip: One trip by one person on one vehicle;
transfer to a second vehicle would be a second trip.
upstream: Toward the source of traffic.
UST: Underground Storage Tank.
UTU: United Transportation Union.
UZA: Urbanized area. One designated by Census Bureau as
having at least 50,000 inhabitants in a central city or two adjacent
viscosity : Measure of internal resistance to flow or motion
offered by a fluid lubricant.
VMT : Vehicle miles traveled.
wayside : Along the side of tracks.
WBE : Women's business enterprise. Business owned or controlled
by one or more women. Requires certification to receive preferential
treatment for state and federal projects.
Welfare to Work : Federal 1996 program to shift more welfare
recipients to jobs.
wheelbase : Distance between the front and rear axles.
wheel slip : Difference between vehicle wheel speed and
wheel speed expressed as a percentage.
: Area for maintenance and storage of buses and railcars.
: Zero-emission bus.