Skip to main content Skip to site navigation


SRTS Toolkit

A list of terms and abbreviations from the text of this guide with definitions and examples to help understanding.  Click on each term for its definition.

Active communities

Places where people of all ages and abilities can get where they want to go without getting into a car. 

Active transportation

Human powered transportation such as walking, bicycling, skateboarding, etc.

Active transportation systems

Systems that promote pedestrian mobility, bicycle usage, connectivity to mass transit and so-called complete streets that make room for all modes of transport.

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.

Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32)

AB 32 The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006, set the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal into law.  It directed the California Air Resources Board to begin developing discrete early actions to reduce greenhouse gases while also preparing a scoping plan to identify how best to reach the 2020 limit.

Capital Funds

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.

Complete Streets

Streets that are designed to accommodate all potential users – bicyclists, drivers, transit riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.  Typical elements of complete streets include traffic calming to reduce speeds, urban greening, and bicyclist and pedestrian-oriented infrastructure.


A process in which transportation plans and spending programs are reviewed to ensure consistency with federal clean air requirements; transportation projects collectively must not worsen air quality.

Congestion Management Agencies (CMAs)

Congestion management agencies are countywide agencies responsible for preparing and implementing a county’s congestion management program. Congestion management agencies came into existence as a result of state legislation and voter approval of Prop. 111 in 1990. Subsequent legislation made the agencies optional; most Bay Area counties still have them. Many congestion management agencies double as a county’s sales tax authority.

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ)

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program is a federal source of funding for projects and activities that reduce congestion and improve air quality, both in regions not yet attaining federal air quality standards and those engaged in efforts to preserve attainment status.

Councils of Governments (COGs)

Councils of governments (COGs) are responsible for determining the share of the regional need for housing for each of the counties and cities within the council of government’s region. Councils of governments can be single or multi-county entities created by a joint powers agreement among the member agencies. The governing board of each of California’s 25 councils of governments consists of elected officials drawn from the cities and counties belonging to the council of governments, as established in the joint powers agreement for each agency.

Environmental Justice

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.

Financial Constraint

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, a long-range transportation plans cannot be pie-in-the-sky wish lists of projects. It must reflect realistic assumptions about revenues that will likely be available during the 25 years covered in the plan.

Flexible Funding

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 and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program.


The term “mode” is used to refer to a means of transportation, such as automobile, bus, train, ship, bicycle or pedestrian. Intermodal refers specifically to the connections between modes.

Joint-Use Agreements 

Joint use increases opportunities for children and adults to be more physically active. It refers to two or more entities — usually a school and a city or private organization — sharing indoor and outdoor spaces like gymnasiums, athletic fields and playgrounds. The concept is simple: share resources to keep costs down and communities healthy. The joint-use agreement is the document that lays out the terms of that shared use.

Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

For urbanized areas with more than 50,000 residents, federal law requires the state to designate a regional metropolitan planning organization in order to receive federal funding to prepare and implement the regional transportation plan. California has eighteen metropolitan planning organizations, each governed by elected officials from the cities and counties that comprise the particular metropolitan planning area.

Metropolitan Transportation System (MTS)

A defined network of streets and roads, highways, mass transit routes, bikeways, transfer points, airports and seaports considered essential to regional mobility.

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)

After many short-term extensions of Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Congress enacted a surface transportation law known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) in 2012.  This two-year bill holds overall spending levels steady, but makes some significant changes to transportation policy and funding.


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.

Proposition 42

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 Improvement Program (RIP) Funds

The portion of funds in the Transportation Improvement Fund (TIF) which are available to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). 

Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP)

A listing of highway, local road, transit and bicycle projects that the region hopes to fund; compiled by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission every two years from priority lists submitted by local jurisdictions. The California Transportation Commission must either approve or reject the Regional Transportation Improvement Program in its entirety. Once the California Transportation Commission approves a Regional Transportation Improvement Program, it is combined with those from other regions to comprise 75 percent of the funds in the State Transportation Improvement Program.

Regional Transportation Plan (RTP)

A master plan to guide the region’s transportation investments for a 25-year period. Updated every three years, it is based on projections of growth in population and jobs and the ensuing travel demand. Required by state and federal law, it includes programs to better maintain, operate and expand transportation.

Regional Transportation Planning Agency

Regional transportation planning agencies (RTPA) are one of three regional agencies responsible for regional planning in California.  The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Director designates the official regional transportation planning agency for each of California’s 58 counties. For each county the regional transportation planning agency is either: created by statute, the metropolitan planning organization serves as the regional transportation planning agency, or a local transportation commission or county transportation commission serves as the regional transportation planning agency.

Return to Source

A requirement with some funding programs (such as the Transportation Development Act) that money flow back to the county where it originated from tax revenues, regardless of need.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS & SR2S)

SRTS is the acronym for the Federal Safe Routes to School award program and SR2S is the acronym for the California Safe Routes to School award program.  In California, both programs are currently managed by Caltrans.

Sales Tax Authority

An agency that administers a voter-approved county transportation sales tax program; in most Bay Area counties, the congestion management agency also serves as the sales tax authority.

Self-Help Counties

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.

Single-Occupant Vehicle (SOV)

A vehicle with one occupant, the driver, who is sometimes referred to as a “drive alone.”

Smart Growth

A set of guidelines and programs designed to protect, preserve, and economically stimulate established communities, while protecting valuable natural and cultural resources and limiting sprawl.

State Transit Assistance (STA)

Provides funding for mass transit operations and capital projects.

State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)

The California Transportation Commission program that results from the combination of approved regional transportation improvement programs and a list of specific projects proposed by Caltrans. The State Transportation Improvement Program covers a five-year span, is updated every two years and  determines when and if transportation projects will be funded by the state. Projects included in the State Transportation Improvement Program must be consistent with the long-range transportation plan.

Surface Transportation Program (STP)

Surface Transportation Program moneys are “flexible,” meaning they can be spent on mass transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, as well as on roads and highways. One of the key funding programs in Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), it continues to be flexible under Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21)

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century was enacted June 9, 1998 as Public Law 105-178. TEA-21 authorizes the Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for the 6-year period 1998-2003.  Since TEA-21, there have been two additional transportation laws, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005 and  Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

A type of development that uses design and a mix of uses to support the transit system and help reduce sprawl, traffic congestion and air pollution. It often includes housing, along with complementary public uses (jobs, retail and services), located at a strategic point along a regional transit system, such as a rail hub.

Transportation Development Act (TDA)

The Transportation Development Act is a State law enacted in 1971. The Transportation Development Act funds are generated from a tax of one-quarter of one percent on all retail sales in each county; used for transit, special transit for disabled persons, and bicycle and pedestrian purposes. Transportation Development Act moneys are collected by the state and allocated by a metropolitan planning organization or regional transportation planning agency. In non-urban areas, Transportation Development Act funds may be used for streets and roads under certain conditions.

Transportation Improvement Fund (TIF)

The State of California uses the Transportation Improvement Fund (TIF), which is made up of revenues from state and federal gas taxes, to fund projects listed in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

A short-term (covering three years) program prepared by a metropolitan planning organization describing transportation projects that will be funded with all federal funds expected to flow to the region.  The projects contained in the transportation improvement program are drawn from, and consistent with, the long-range transportation plan.

Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)

One vehicle (whether a car carrying one passenger or a bus carrying 30 people) traveling one mile constitutes a vehicle mile; vehicle miles traveled are used as one measure of the use of freeways and roads.


Log in