Glossary of Transportation Planning Acronyms and Terms
The transportation arena has a language all its own. Just as getting from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ in the San Francisco Bay Area is often easier said than done, navigating your way through the complex web of transportation terminology can likewise be a challenge. While MTC strives to use plain language, acronyms and jargon invariably will creep into many discussions about transportation. For this we apologize and offer the following glossary of transportation planning acronyms and terms.
Association of Bay Area Governments
Article XIX Restriction
A provision in the California Constitution that limits the use of state gasoline tax revenues to projects related to roadway (including bicycle and pedestrian projects) or fixed guideway (rail or trolley coach) improvements.
Bay Area Air Quality Management District
Bay Area Toll Authority
Bay Area Partnership
Often referred to simply as “The Partnership,” this is a confederation of the top staff of various transportation agencies in the region, including MTC, public transit operators, county congestion management agencies (CMAs), city and county public works departments, ports, Caltrans and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as well as environmental protection agencies. The Partnership works by consensus to improve the overall efficiency and operation of the Bay Area’s transportation network, including developing strategies for financing transportation improvements.
California Department of Transportation
Moneys to cover one-time costs for construction of new projects — such as roads, bridges, bicycle/pedestrian paths, transit lines and transit facilities — to expand the capacity of the transportation system, or to cover the purchase of buses and rail cars.
Information used by transportation planners to make projections about future Bay Area travel patterns, housing needs and the like. Required by the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Census is a complete enumeration of the population conducted every 10 years by the U.S. Census Bureau (the last one was completed in 2000).
Congestion Management Agencies
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program
Revenues that are dedicated by law, ballot measure or prior MTC programming actions to specific transportation investments. Committed revenues comprise the vast majority of all funds identified in the long-term regional transportation plan. (Also see “Uncommitted Revenues.”)
A process in which transportation plans and spending programs are reviewed to ensure they are consistent with federal clean air requirements; transportation projects collectively must not worsen air quality.
California Transportation Commission
This term stems from a Presidential Executive Order to promote equity for disadvantaged communities and promote the inclusion of racial and ethnic populations and low-income communities in decision-making. Local and regional transportation agencies must ensure that services and benefits, as well as burdens, are fairly distributed to avoid discrimination.
Consistent with federal requirements for environmental justice, MTC conducts an equity analysis covering the 25-year regional transportation plan to determine how the benefits and burdens of the plan’s investment strategy affect minority and low-income communities.
Federal Highway Administration
A federal requirement that long-range transportation plans include only projects that have a reasonable expectation of being funded, based upon anticipated revenues. In other words, long-range transportation plans cannot be pie-in-the-sky wish lists of projects. They must reflect realistic assumptions about revenues that will likely be available during the 25 years covered in the plan.
Unlike funding that flows only to highways or only to transit by a rigid formula, this is money that can be invested in a range of transportation projects. Examples of flexible funding categories include the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program.
Federal Transit Administration
Housing Incentive Program
The term “mode” is used to refer to a means of transportation, such as automobile, bus, train, ship, bicycle and walking. Intermodal refers specifically to the connections between modes.
Lifeline Transportation Network
An MTC initiative to enhance low-income residents’ access to key destinations such as job centers, government buildings and medical facilities during both peak commute periods and off-peak hours. While most of the Lifeline network identified by MTC is already served by existing transit routes, some low-income communities and/or destinations are not served by transit or lack service at specific times of day. MTC is working with transit operators and potential funding partners to fill these gaps in the network.
Low-Income Flexible Transportation
Metropolitan Planning Organization
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
Metropolitan Transportation System
Ozone Attainment Strategy
This plan details the strategy by which the Bay Area will comply with federal ozone — or “smog” — standards. The Ozone Attainment Strategy is prepared by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Association of Bay Area Governments and MTC, then submitted for review and approval by the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The plan also provides a transportation “emissions budget” that identifies allowable levels of pollution from motor vehicles traveling in the Bay Area. (Also see “Conformity.”)
Door-to-door bus, van and taxi services used to transport elderly and disabled riders. Sometimes referred to as dial-a-ride service, since trips are made according to demand instead of along a fixed route or according to a fixed schedule.
Indicators of how well the transportation system or specific transportation projects will improve transportation conditions.
Potential New Revenues
Funds that may be available for transportation investment in the future if proposed new revenue sources are approved. Current legislative proposals include a $1 increase in the base toll on state-owned bridges and indexing the federal gasoline tax to inflation. These potential revenues are not included in the financially constrained portion of the long-term transportation plan.
(1) verb, to assign funds to a project that has been approved by MTC, the state or another agency and (2) noun, a system of funding for implementing transportation projects or policies, such as through the State Transportation Improvement Program. (Also see “STIP.”)
A state constitutional amendment passed by California voters in March 2002 that permanently dedicates 100 percent of the state sales tax on gasoline for transportation investments, although the Legislature is able to suspend these provisions in times of fiscal crisis.
Regional Agency Coordinating Committee
Regional Transit Expansion Program
See Regional Transit Expansion Program.
Return to Source
A requirement with some funding programs (such as TDA) that the money flow back to the county where it originated from tax revenues, regardless of need.
Regional Transportation Improvement Program
Regional Transportation Plan
Service Authority for Freeways and Expressways
Sales Tax Authority
An agency that administers a voter-approved county transportation sales tax program; in most Bay Area counties, the congestion management agency (CMA) also serves as the sales tax authority.
A term used to describe counties that have taken the initiative to supplement available state and federal funds by enacting local voter-approved funding mechanisms — such as half-cent sales taxes — to pay for transportation improvements. In the Bay Area, five counties have passed such measures: Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.
A set of policies and programs designed to protect, preserve and economically stimulate established communities, while protecting valuable natural and cultural resources and limiting sprawl.
State Transit Assistance
State Transportation Improvement Program
Surface Transportation Program
A coordinated series of programs involving MTC and partner agencies such as the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans to make the region’s existing transportation system work more efficiently. These efforts include congestion relief initiatives such as the roving Freeway Service Patrol tow trucks, and traveler information programs such as the toll-free 511 phone service and the www.511.org Web page.
Transportation Control Measure
Traffic Congestion Relief Program
Transportation Development Act
Transportation Enhancement Activities
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
Refers to Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, and requires that transportation planning and programming be nondiscriminatory on the basis of race, color and national origin. Integral to Title VI is the concept of environmental justice. (Also see “Environmental Justice.”)
Transportation Improvement Program
Transportation for Livable Communities
Transportation 2030 Plan
The long-range transportation planning effort now under way in the nine-county Bay Area to guide transportation policy and investment decisions through the year 2030.
Travel Demand Model
Used by transportation planners for simulating current travel conditions and for forecasting future travel patterns and conditions. Models help planners and policy-makers analyze the effectiveness and efficiency of alternative transportation investments in terms of mobility, accessibility, and environmental and equity impacts.
Tribal Government Consultation
A formal process between MPOs and federally recognized Indian tribes, which are recognized as sovereign nations, that calls for government-to-government consultation regarding transportation planning and programming efforts.
Anticipated transportation revenues available for new investments after accounting for revenue committed by law, ballot measure or MTC programming actions. These revenues account for about 10 percent of all revenues forecasted to be available over the 25-year period of the regional transportation plan, and are the major focus of the update process. (Also see “Committed Revenues.”)
United States Department of Transportation
The concept of assessing higher prices for using certain transportation facilities during the most congested times of the day, in the same way that airlines offer off-peak discounts and hotel rooms cost more during prime tourist seasons. Also known as congestion pricing and peak-period pricing, examples of this concept include higher bridge tolls during peak periods or charging single-occupant vehicles that want to use carpool lanes.
Vehicle Miles Traveled
One vehicle (whether a car carrying one passenger or a bus carrying 30 people) traveling one mile constitutes a vehicle mile. VMT is one measure of the use of Bay Area freeways and roads.