Alternative

For the purposes of transportation studies, an alternative is a proposed package of transportation improvements. Each alternative is detailed enough so that comparisons can be made with other alternatives. See also No Build Alternative.

Alternatives Analysis (AA)

An Alternatives Analysis is a process for evaluating transportation improvements for possible funding through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). An AA is a locally managed study process with input provided by the FTA. An AA identifies transportation problems, alternatives to address those problems, and the costs and benefits of those alternatives.

Bike Lanes

Bike lanes are striped lanes in the street dedicated for use only by bicycles. They are often located between the outside lane of traffic and the parking lane.

Bike Paths

Bike paths are pathways dedicated for bicycle use that are physically separated from parallel traffic. They are often constructed of bituminous pavement and run parallel to a sidewalk and/or boulevard.

Build Alternative

A Build Alternative is a proposed package of transportation improvements including a major transit investment. Each alternative is detailed enough so that comparisons can be made with other alternatives.

Bus Lane

A bus lane is a striped lane in a street that is dedicated for bus use, either all day or during congested periods. Bus lanes that are located on the outside often allow right turns by other vehicles. See also High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane and Dedicated Transit Lane.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

BRT is a higher capacity form of traditional bus transit. This permanent, integrated system uses buses or specialized vehicles on roadways or dedicated bus lanes while offering the flexibility in routes and vehicles to adjust to demand.

Conceptual Engineering

Conceptual engineering identifies the basic components and needs of a project so that estimates of costs and impacts can be made.

Dedicated Transit Lane

A Dedicated Transit Lane is a lane of traffic that is for the exclusive use of transit vehicles, including buses, light rail or streetcar. Sometimes they are physically separated from adjacent lanes by a curb, which discourages movement into or across the lane.

Federal Transit Administration

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) that provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems.

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane

A high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane is a traffic lane reserved either all day or during congested periods for vehicles with more than one person. These vehicles typically include buses and carpools. HOV lanes can be adjacent to or physically separate from the other travel lanes.

Light Rail Transit (LRT)

LRT is a railway powered by overhead electrically wires in train lengths of one to three cars. They can be operated along dedicated rights-of-way or along a city street using tracks that are embedded into the pavement. They carry “lighter” or smaller passenger volumes than subway or commuter rail systems, but provide greater capacity than buses.

Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA)

The LPA is an alternative that a local jurisdiction has concluded best meets a corridor's long-term transportation needs. If the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) believes the LPA has merit and is cost-effective, the agency will approve the project to advance into preliminary engineering.

Mode

A particular form of travel (e.g., bus, train, bicycle, walking or automobile).

Mode Split

The proportion of people that use each of the various modes of transportation.

No-Build Alternative

A No-Build Alternative identifies a range of transportation improvements that are likely to occur over time even if none of the major corridor alternatives being studied are implemented. This is done so that the true benefits and costs of an alternative can be evaluated.

Pedestrian Countdown Signals

Pedestrian Countdown Signals are crosswalk signals with a countdown timer that displays how many seconds remain before cross-traffic will have a green light.

Project Development

Project Development entails design, engineering, environmental clearance, refinement of costs, development of financial plan, negotiations and agreements, and construction plans. Project Development follows an Alternatives Analysis after a Locally Preferred Alternative has been selected.

Purpose and Need Statement

A Purpose and Need statement identifies the purpose of a proposed action and why transportation improvements are needed. This document documents existing and future conditions, and may be refined from input received from the public, stakeholders, and agencies.

Signal Priority

Signal priority means that traffic signal green time will be held longer for an approaching transit vehicle. Also, red time may be shortened if a bus is waiting. This is different from signal preemption, whereby a transit vehicle would always have a green condition.

Streetcars

Streetcars are a particular kind of rail transit designed to serve higher density areas with frequent stops. Like LRT, they are powered by overhead wires. However, because they are not designed to travel fast over longer distances, streetcars typically travel on tracks that are embedded into travel lanes shared with other vehicles. They typically operate as one car, which enables them to mix more easily with other traffic.

Streetscape

Streetscape refers to physical features and amenities along a street. They include pedestrian lighting, special pavement, banners, benches and planters. The intent of streetscape is to beautify the street, particularly areas used by pedestrians.

Transit Priority

Transit priority is a general term used to refer to situations where transit vehicles are given some type of advantage over other traffic. This may include bus lanes or traffic signals that are timed to improve the flow of buses.

Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) refers to development that fosters the use of transit. TOD typically includes higher densities near transit stations, a mix of residential and smaller-scale commercial uses, a pleasant pedestrian environment, and direct walking routes.

Transportation Model

A transportation model is a mathematical tool used by transportation planners to forecast future travel demand, where that demand will occur and what the impacts of that demand will be. It can be used to evaluate the impacts of different land use and transportation scenarios.