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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 bus operators.
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 in mid-'70s.
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 by formula.
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 by legislation.
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 off-peak period.
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 carpools.
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 U.S.
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. Opposite of
catenary Overhead support holding wire that supplies power to a trolleybus or light rail vehicle.
CDL Commercial Driver's License. Required of all bus drivers.
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 fuels.
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 turnkey contracting.
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 generation.
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 intersection.
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 bus stops.
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 areas.
FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Agency within the DOT that regulates bus and truck operational safety.
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 of DOT.
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 or stand.
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 of transportation.
headway Time intervals between vehicles moving in the same direction on a particular route.
heavy-duty vehicles Those with GVWR of 8,500 lbs. or more.
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, long-distance trips.
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 expense.
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 route.
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 gasoline.
maglev Magnetic levitation. Permits trains to move at high speed just above a fixed guideway, propelled by magnetic force.
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 government).
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.
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 braking.
registering fareboxes Fare is counted and displayed for driver.
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 transit system.
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 engine operation.
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 Research Council.
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 cities.
viscosity Measure of internal resistance to flow or motion offered by a fluid lubricant.
VMT Vehicle miles traveled.

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.

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