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Above Grade - The location of a structure or transit guideway above the surface of the ground (also known as elevated or aerial).

Accessible Service - Buses operating in regular service with wheelchair lifts, kneeling functions or other devices that permit disabled passengers to use the service.

Accessibility - (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.

Activity Center - An area with high population and concentrated activities which generate a large number of trips (e.g., shopping centers, business or industrial parks, recreational facilities.

Alignment - The horizontal and vertical ground plan of a roadway, railroad, transit route or other facility.

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 non-petroleum fuel, used to power transit vehicles. Usually refers to alcohol fuels, mineral fuels, natural gas, and hydrogen.

A.M. Peak - 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.

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 at 1914 North Tryon Street in Charlotte.

Americans 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.

Appropriation - An act of Congress that permits federal agencies to incur obligations and make payments for specific purposes.

APTA - American Public Transportation Association is an international organization that has been representing the transit industry for over 100 years, since 1882.  APTA members include bus, rapid transit and commuter rail systems, and the organizations responsible for planning, designing, constructing, financing and operating transit systems.

At Grade - The location of a structure or transit guideway at the same level as the ground surface.

Authorization - Basic, substantive federal legislation that established or continues the legal operation of federal program agencies, either indefinitely or for a specific period of time.

Automatic Passenger Counts (APC) - 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.

Automatic Vehicle 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 mechanical condition.

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Best Work Place -"Best Workplaces for Commuters" is a national program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that honors businesses and organizations that meet the National Standard of Excellence for commuter benefits.

Board - To go onto or into a transit vehicle. 

Bus - A rubber-tired road vehicle designed to carry a substantial number of passengers  commonly operated on streets and highways for public transportation service.

Bus Bay - Bus staging area in a facility such as a transit center or rail station.

Bus Hours - The total hours of travel by bus, including both revenue service and deadhead travel.

Bus Lane - A lane of roadway intended primarily for use by buses, either all day or during specified periods.

Bus Operations Division (BOD) - Serves as CATS' principal fixed-route bus service provider.  Provides service utilizing approximately 250 vehicles and over 700 employees.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) - BRT can operate on exclusive transitways, HOV lanes, expressways, or ordinary streets.  A BRT system combines transportation systems technology, priority for transit, rapid and convenient fare collection, and integration with land use policy in order to substantially upgrade bus system performance.

Bus Stop - A curbside place where passengers board or alight transit.

Bus Miles - The total miles of travel by bus, including both revenue and deadhead travel.

Bus Shelter - A structure constructed near a bus stop to provide seating and protection from the weather for the convenience of waiting passengers.

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.

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Capital - Long-term assets, such as property, buildings, roads, rail lines and vehicles.

Capital 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 programming period.

Capital Project - Construction and/or procurement of district assets, such as transit centers, transit vehicles and track.

Car Pool - An arrangement where people share the use and cost of a privately owned automobile in traveling to and from pre-arranged destinations.

Central Business District (CBD) - An area of a city that contains the greatest concentration of commercial activity, the "Center City". The traditional 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.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) - CATS is managed by the Public Transit Department.  The Department maintains a dual focus, managing and continually improving day-to-day operations of the City's transit services while moving swiftly ahead with planning for a regional transit system which will include bus rapid transit, light rail, commuter rail, and expanded bus service within a six-county area. 

Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) - CDOT provides a variety of services directly to the community - such as maintaining streets; installation, maintenance and monitoring of traffic signals; traffic calming devices; and services to neighborhoods. The department also provides overall transportation planning in order to improve roads and streets and make them safer.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission (CMPC) - Serves as a resource to a number of City and County departments in a wide range of coordinated planning efforts such as housing, transportation/transit, community facilities, annexation, demographics, GIS mapping, parks and open space, general zoning, and land development activities.

Citizen Transit Advisory Group (CTAG) - CTAG reviews long-range transit system planning and proposed operating and capital programs from the community's perspective, and makes recommendations to the MTC.  This advisory body is made up of members of the community appointed by the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, the Charlotte City Council, each of the six Towns, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.

Commuter 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 railroad system.

Corridor - 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 routes.

Crosstown Route - Non-radial bus service that normally does not enter the Central Business District (CBD).

Crush 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.

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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.

Deboard - To get on or into a transit vehicle.

Diesel Particulate Filters - An emissions control technology that removes particulate matter from diesel exhaust by physical filtration.

Disabled - 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.

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Employer Transportation Coordinator (ETC) - The ETC program provides organizations with the tools and benefits to offer transportation alternatives and provide cost saving options to employees.

Express Service - Express service is deployed in one of two general configurations:
(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.

Exclusive Right-of-Way - A right-of-way that is fully grade separated or access controlled and is used exclusively by transit.

Extra 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 operators.

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Fare - Payment in the form of coins, bills, tickets and tokens collected for transit rides.

Fare Box - A device that accepts the coins, bills, tickets and tokens given by passengers as payment for rides.

Farebox Recovery Ratio - A measure of the proportion of transit operating expenses covered by passenger fares. It is calculated by dividing a transit operator's fare box revenue by its total operating expenses.

Fare Box Revenue - Total revenue derived from the payment of passenger fares.

Fare Collection System - The method by which fares are collected and accounted for in a public transportation system.

Fare Elasticity - The extent to which ridership responds to fare increases or decreases.

Fare Structure - The system set up to determine how much is to be paid by various passengers using the system at any given time.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) - A part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) which administers the federal program of financial assistance to public transit.

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 facility.

Fixed Cost - An indirect cost that remains relatively constant irrespective of the level of operational activity.

Fixed-Guideway System - 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 locations.

Frequency - 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 government's 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 July 1 to June 30. 

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Garage - The place where revenue vehicles are stored and maintained and from where they are dispatched and recovered for the delivery of scheduled service.

Grade Separated - A crossing of two forms of transportation paths (e.g., light rail tracks and a highway) at different levels to permit unconstrained operation.

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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.

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.

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) - Vehicles that can carry more than two persons. Examples of high occupancy vehicles are a bus, vanpool and carpool.

HOV Lane - A traffic lane in a street or highway reserved for high occupancy vehicles, which may include two person vehicles in some applications.

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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 vehicle.

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).

Intermodal - Switching from one form of transportation to another.

Intermodal Facility - A building or site specifically designed to accommodate the meeting of two or more transit modes of travel.

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Joint Development - 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.

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Kiss and Ride - A place where commuters are driven and left at a station to board a public transportation vehicle

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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) - Powered by an overhead electric line, LRT is capable of high speeds and rapid acceleration making it best suited for serving stations spaced as far as a mile apart.  Although LRT typically operates within exclusive rights-of-way, it can also operate in mixed traffic on tracks embedded in the street.

Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) - Modern-day term for a streetcar type of transit vehicle, e.g., tram or trolley car.

Limited 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 operation.

Linked Passenger 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 transfers.

Load 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 vehicle.

Local 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 possible.

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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 points.

Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) - The MTC has responsibility for reviewing and recommending all long-range public transportation plans.  The MTC is composed of the mayors and managers of the City, the County and the Towns; and includes five non-voting members representing local governments outside 
Mecklenburg County to ensure regional involvement, and one non-voting member each from the North Carolina and South Carolina Departments of Transportation.

Minivan - The minivan service consists of four to seven passengers with one rider agreeing to be the driver and at least one other rider agreeing to be the backup driver.  CATS covers the cost of gas, maintenance, insurance and the Guaranteed Ride Home program.

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 reason.

Mode - A particular form of travel (e.g., bus commuter tail, train, bicycle, walking or automobile.

Mode 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 transportation.

Model - An analytical tool (often mathematical) used by transportation planners to assist in making forecasts of land use, economic activity, and travel activity.

Monthly Pass - A prepaid farecard or ticket, valid for unlimited riding within certain designated zones for one-month period.

Multidestinational Network - A bus route network that is designed to make it easy to travel by transit between any two points in the service area.

Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO) - The Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization is a Transportation body that is responsible for over seeing the development of the transportation system in Mecklenburg and Union Counties of North Carolina.  The group consists of voting representatives from Charlotte, Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mecklenburg County, Mint Hill, and Pineville in Mecklenburg County.  Indian Trail, Monroe, Stallings, Union County, Waxhaw, Weddington, Wesley Chapel and Wingate each have voting representatives from Union County. 

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Network - The configuration of streets or transit routes and stops that constitutes the total system.

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.

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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.

Operating Cost - The total costs to operate and maintain a transit system including labor, fuel, maintenance, wages and salaries, employee benefits, taxes, etc.

Operating Expense - Monies paid in salaries and wages; settlement of claims, maintenance of equipment and buildings, and rentals of equipment and facilities.

Operating Ratio - A measure of transit system expense recovery obtained by dividing total operating revenues by total operating expenses.

Operating Revenue - Revenue derived from passenger fares. See also Farebox Revenue.

Operating Speed - The rate of speed at which a vehicle in safely operated under prevailing traffic and environmental conditions.

Operator - 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, cable car gripman, rapid transit train motorman, conductor, etc.

Origin - The location of the beginning of a trip or the zone in which a trip begins. Also known as a "Trip End".

Origin-Destination Study - A study of the origins and destinations of trips made by vehicles or passengers.

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Paratransit - 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 fixed-route service.

Park and Ride - A parking area for automobile drivers who then board vehicles, shuttles or carpools from these locations.

Pass - 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 cash fare.

Passenger - A person who rides a transportation vehicle, excluding the driver.

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 models.

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 miles.

Passenger Revenue - Fares paid by passenger traveling aboard transit vehicles.

Peak Hour/Peak Period
 - The period with the highest ridership during the entire service day, generally referring to either the peak hour or peak several hours (peak period).

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. Also known as Bid.

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.

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.

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Revenue - 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.

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 transport.

Revenue Miles - Miles operated by vehicles available for passenger service.

Revenue Passenger - A passenger from whom a fare is collected.

Reverse 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.

Riders Code of Conduct - Acts as a guideline for acceptable behavior by customers while riding mass transit.  

Ridesharing - 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.

Ridership - 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 buses.

Road 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.

Road 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.

Route 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.

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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.

Scheduling — The planning of vehicle arrivals and departures and the operators for these vehicles to meet consumer demand along specified routes.

Service Area — A geographic area which is provided with transit services. Service area is now defined consistent with ADA requirements.

Service Span - The span of hours over which service is operated, e.g., 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Service span often 
varies by weekday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Service Standards - A benchmark by which service operations performance is evaluated. These standards are provided in the Short Range Transit Plan.

Smart Commute - By purchasing your home near a CATS bus stop and riding CATS  to commute to work, you could qualify for the added benefits of getting a mortgage offered by lenders participating in the Smart Commute* Initiative.

Streetcar - The streetcar operates on embedded rails, and is capable of operating in streets     with mixed traffic.  It is electric and is powered by an overhead wire 18 feet above the street.

 - Funds granted by federal, state or local government.

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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.

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 limitations.

Transit Center - A fixed location where passengers transfer from one route to another.

Transit 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 system.

Transfer Passenger - A passenger who transfers to a line after paying a fare on another line.

Transit Dependent - Someone who must use public transportation for his/her travel.

Transit Priority - A means by which transit vehicles are given an advantage over other traffic, e.g., preemption of traffic signals or transit priority lanes.

Transit Services Advisory Committee (TSAC) - The TSAC focuses on day-to-day operations of the transit service to ensure that it meets the needs of the community. It is made up of representatives appointed by the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and the six Towns. 

Transportation 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.

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.

Total Miles - The total miles includes revenue, deadhead, and yard (maintenance and servicing) miles.

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Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel - A refined fuel with significantly lower sulfur content than regular highway diesel.

Unlinked 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.

Unlinked Trip - A trip taken by an individual on one specific mode. A linked trip may involve two or more unlinked trips.

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Vanpool - A vanpool consists of nine to 15 passengers with one rider agreeing to be the driver and at least one other rider agreeing to be the backup driver. CATS covers the cost of gas, maintenance, insurance and the Guaranteed Ride Home program.

Variable Cost - A cost that varies in relation to the level of operational activity.

Vehicle Miles - The number of miles traveled by a vehicle, and are usually calculated by mode.

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Wheelchair Lift - A device used to raise and lower a platform in a transit vehicle for accessibility by handicapped individuals.

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Yard - An area in a system used for maintenance, storing or holding trains.

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