“Transportation is more than just asphalt, concrete and steel; it’s about PEOPLE.”

-- Rodney E. Slater, former Secretary of Transportation

Transportation Planning Impacts Everyone

If you walk, ride a bike, drive a car, or take a bus, train or airplane, you are impacted by transportation planning. And, although most people don’t think about it, almost all of the things you buy at a store are delivered by trucks, trains or air cargo.

Transportation in our region should reflect how transportation impacts you, your neighbor, and everyone else in the region. This can only be done if you get involved, learn how transportation planning works and voice your opinion. 

Why should I get involved?

You may have already been involved in supporting or opposing where a new road will be or whether bus service will be cut or added. While public participation in these projects is very important, transportation planning begins many years before these projects even get funded and are ready to go.

Once the bulldozer is on the road, there is a good chance that the project has been in the works for 10 or more years. At that point in the process, citizens can have more of an impact on HOW the project takes place rather than WHETHER it takes place. You might be able to have sidewalks added to a road project, for example. 

If you want to help determine WHETHER projects get funded you must get involved in long range transportation planning!

3 Things You Can Do

  • Learn– The transportation planning process can be complicated, but billions of dollars are at stake! Learn more about how transportation planning affects you, how the planning process works in our region, and what kinds of things you can do to make an impact.

  • Participate – There are many opportunities for public participation. You can be involved at the regional level, the local level, or based on the kind of issues you are interested in.

  • Speak Out – Tell others what you think and share the ideas you have on how we can make the transportation system and planning process even better.

We are all affected by transportation and we all have a hand in how it will work in the future. By getting involved, you help shape that future.

Additional Resources


For more information:
Monica B. Haines Benkhedda, mhainesbenkhedda@baltometro.org or 410-732-0500 x1047


One of the best ways to influence how our region will grow over the next 5, 10, or 20 years is to be involved! There are a number of ways you can get involved on a regional level, as well as locally. Here are some options to let you started:

  • Speak Out- Do you have a great idea? Want to let local elected officials know what you think? Here’s your chance to participate!
  • Attend Meetings – There’s no "I" in plan!  It can only be done when we all work together to identify what we want our region to be like in the future. Going to meetings is a great way to learn more, share your ideas, and meet other people who are interested in the same issues. Attend a meeting of the BRTB Public Advisory Committee or one of the other BRTB Committees
  • Read the BRTB's Public Participation Plan– The Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB) is committed to meaningful public participation in the regional transportation planning process. Find out how. 
  • Connect Locally – While the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board play a role in determining which projects are funded, many other organizations are involved in the decision making process. Many decisions about which projects are included in regional plans come from community input and participation. By getting involved locally, you help shape priorities and affect future funding decisions. Most importantly, the information you share with local leaders helps to ensure that investments reflect local and regional priorities.  Contact your local planning office to find out how to be involved or follow B'More Involved on Facebook and Twitter to get updates about local planning efforts.

We are all affected by transportation and we all have a hand in how it will work in the future. By getting involved, you help shape that future.

For more information:
Monica B. Haines Benkhedda, mhainesbenkhedda@baltometro.org or 410-732-0500 x1047.

A Citizen's Guide to Effective Participation in the Regional Transportation Planning Process is a great way to learn more about the regional transportation planning process and how you can be more effectively engaged.  The short video (6:25 minutes) provides:

  • An overview of what a regional transportation plan is and how it is developed
  • Why it is important for the public to be involved in the planning process
  • Steps to becoming engaged in the process
  • Questions to ask
  • How to provide effective comments
This video was produced by The Regional Transportation District in Denver, Co through a grant from the Federal Transit Administration.
This video, An Introduction to Metropolitan Transportation Planning, explains what a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is, who makes transportation decisions and how those decisions are made. It also explains the purpose of the three MPO documents: the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), the Long-Range Transportation Plan, and the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and how each is prepared. 
This video is provided courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the National Highway Institute, and the National Transit Institute. Copyright 2003 FHWA.

 We hope these videos provides you with important information about how you can be more involved! 


Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for 15-19 year olds in the US. In fact, in 2013, there were 2,614 teen (15-19 year old) passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes and an estimated 130,000 were injured.

Yet, a recent survey shows that only 25% of parents have had a serious talk with their kids about the key components of driving.  You’ve guided your teen this far, but your job’s not done. Driving is a new chapter, a step toward independence for many teens. Surveys show that teens whose parents impose driving restrictions typically engage in less risky driving and are involved in fewer crashes.

You are the biggest influence on your teen’s safety behind the wheel. Take the time to talk with your kids about the the greatest dangers for teen drivers: alcohol, texting, seat belts, speeding, and extra passengers.

Even if you think they don't hear you, they do. Remember, the "5 to Drive" – Set the Rules Before They Hit the Road.

  1. No Drinking and Driving.
    Set a good example by not driving after drinking. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix no matter your age.
  2. Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back.
    Lead by example. If you wear your seat belt every time you’re in the car, your teen is more likely to follow suit. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, no matter how far or how fast.
  3. Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.
    Remind your teen about the dangers of texting or dialing while driving, and that the phone is off-limits when they are on the road. It’s equally important to model safe driving habits for your teen—you shouldn’t text and drive either.

  4. Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.

    Drive the speed limit and require your teen to do the same. Explain that every time your speed doubles, your stopping distance quadruples.
  5. No More Than One Passenger at Any Time.
    With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash goes up. Check your State’s GDL law before your teen takes to the road; it may prohibit any passengers.

How you can start talking with your teen about the “5 To Drive”

  • Start the conversation with your teen during Teen Driver Safety Week, but continue the conversation every day.
  • Even if it seems like they’re tuning you out, keep telling them. They’re listening, and these powerful messages will get through.
  • Get creative! Talking is just one way to discuss safe driving. You can write your teen a letter, leave sticky notes in the car, or use social media to get your message across.
  • Get it in writing. Create a parent-teen driving contract that outlines the rules and consequences for your teen driver. Hang the signed contract in a visible place.

For more information about the “5 to Drive” campaign, please visit www.safercar.gov/parents or read Safer Teens, Safer Roads with the ‘5 to Drive'

Transportation Planning Acronyms and Terms

The transportation arena has a language all its own. Navigating your way through the complex web of transportation terminology can be a challenge. So, we’ve put together this list of acronyms and commonly used words in transportation planning.


The extent to which facilities are barrier free and useable by persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users. Examples of facilities are sidewalks, buses, trains, etc.

Activity Center
Locations where there are a concentration of residences, business, commercial and other uses that draw a large number of people on a daily basis.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Federal civil rights legislation for disabled persons passed in 1990; calls on public transit systems to make their services more fully accessible as well as to underwrite a parallel network of paratransit service.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Low-polluting fuels instead of high-sulfur diesel or gasoline. Examples include methanol, ethanol, propane or compressed natural gas (CNG), liquid natural gas (LNG), low-sulfur or "clean" diesel and electricity.

Annual Element
Transportation projects, included in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), that are proposed for funding in the current year. The annual element, as part of a four-year TIP is submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) as part of the required planning process.

Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)
A system that senses, at intervals, the location of vehicles such as buses or subways. These vehicles are equipped with special electronic equipment that communicates a signal back to a central control facility.

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Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC)
The organization of the Baltimore region’s elected executives, representing Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties. The goal of the organization is to improve the quality of life and economic vitality in the Baltimore region. Areas of activity include: Air and Water Quality Programs, Building Permits Data System, Computer Mapping Applications; Cooperative Purchasing; Economic and Demographic Research; Emergency Preparedness and Public Safety; Rideshare Coordination; and Transportation Planning. BMC provides technical and staff support to the BRTB.   Learn more about BMC

Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB)
The federally recognized Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for transportation planning in the Baltimore region. As an MPO, the BRTB is directly responsible for making sure that any federal money spent on existing and future transportation projects and programs is based on a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive (3-C) planning process. Members of the BMC Board serve on the BRTB. In addition, the Mayor of Annapolis and representatives of the Maryland Departments of the Environment (MDE), Planning (MDP),  and Transportation (MDOT),  and the Maryland Transit Administration (as a voting representative for eligible transit providers) also serve on the BRTB. The BRTB also convenes a number of subcommittees and advisory groups that focus on specific technical and policy areas.    Learn more about the BRTB

BRTB Empowered Representative 
Each member of the BRTB designates an individual empowered with the rights and responsibilities of BRTB membership to act in place of the BRTB member.

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)
The congressionally authorized process the Department of Defense uses to reorganize its base structure to more efficiently and effectively support our forces, increase operational readiness and facilitate new ways of doing business. The most recent iteration of base realignment was enacted as federal law in November 2005 as is known as BRAC 2005. Source: www.brac.maryland.gov

Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Group ( BPAG)
A subcommittee of the BRTB that focuses on tasks such as (1) Developing and implementing the regional bicycle and pedestrian plan; (2) Promoting biking and walking in the region through events such as Bike-to-Work Day and Safe Routes to Schools.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
Bus service that is, at a minimum, faster than traditional local bus service and, at a maximum, includes dedicated lanes just for BRT operations. To reduce travel time and to provide faster service, BRT may incorporate ITS technologies that provide off vehicle payment, rapid boarding, and/or route divergences.

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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.

Central Business District (CBD)
The downtown 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.

Census Data
Information used by transportation planners to make projections about future travel patterns, housing needs and the like. Required by the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Census is a complete listing of the population conducted every 10 years by the U.S. Census Bureau (the last one was completed in 2010).

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ)
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 their attainment status.

A process in which emissions generated by projects in transportation plans are reviewed to ensure they are consistent with federal clean air requirements; transportation projects collectively must not worsen air quality.   ALearn more aout air Quality Conformity

Cooperative Forecasting Group (CFG)
A subcommittee of the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board. The mission of the CFG is to collaboratively develop socio-economic projections (population, households, employment, and labor force) for the Baltimore region in conjunction with jurisdictions in the Washington area. The BRTB endorses these projections each year for use in travel demand modeling and testing air quality conformity.

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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.  Transportation agencies must ensure that services and benefits, as well as burdens, are fairly distributed to avoid discrimination.

Equity Analysis
Consistent with federal requirements for environmental justice, the BRTB conducts an equity analysis covering the 20-year regional transportation plan to determine how the benefits and burdens of the plan’s investment strategy affect minority and low-income communities.

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Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
U.S. Department of Transportation agency responsible for administering the federal highway aid program to individual states, and helping to plan, develop and coordinate construction of federally funded highway projects. FHWA also governs the safety of hazardous cargo on the nation’s highways.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
U.S. Department of Transportation agency that provides financial and planning assistance to help plan, build and operate rail, bus and paratransit systems. 

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, long-range transportation plans cannot be wish lists of projects. They must reflect realistic assumptions about revenues that will likely be available during the 20 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 (STP) and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program.

Fiscal Year (FY)
An annual schedule for keeping financial records and for budgeting transportation funds. Maryland’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30, while the federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

Freight Movement Task Force
A subcommittee of the BRTB that provides the freight community a voice in the regional transportation planning process. Th e FMTF is a forum for Baltimore region freight stakeholders to share information and discuss motor truck, rail, air, and waterway concerns.

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Geographic Information System (GIS)
A system of computer hardware, software and data for collecting, storing, analyzing and issuing information about areas of the earth. GIS can display attributes and analyze results electronically on a map.  For example, BMC uses GIS to create maps that show things such as congestion, minority populations in relation to transportation projects, growth patterns, etc.

Global Positioning System (GPS)
A system that uses satellite signals to track the location or position of vehicles or vessels on earth. In the Baltimore region, BMC uses GPS in cars to track and monitor traffic congestion on area highways.

The GROW AMERICA Act (Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America) is a four-year surface transportation reauthorization bill submitted to Congress in April 2014. If approved, it would replace MAP-21.  www.dot.gov/grow-america

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lnteragency Consultation Group (ICG)
A subcommittee of the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board that focuses on coordination of the transportation air quality conformity process. This group works to promote coordination among the transportation and air quality agencies for the region.

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.

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
A broad range of diverse technologies such as information processing, communications, control, and electronics which can help transportation systems in many ways, including congestion management.

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Land Use
The Environmental Protection Agency defines land use planning as the degree to which land reflects human activities (like agriculture, residential and industrial uses) and describes land use and management practices by people.

Level of Service (LOS)
A report card that rates traffic flow from A (excellent) through F (flunks), and compares actual or projected traffic volume with the maximum capacity of the intersection or road in question.

Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)
The LRTP is a statement of the ways the region plans to invest federal funding in the transportation system over the next twenty years. Updated every four years, it is based on projections of growth in population and jobs and the ensuing travel demand. Required by federal law, it also includes programs/projects to better maintain,  operate and expand transportation.  Learn about the 2015 plan, Maximize2040.  

Magnetic levitation: A rail transportation system with exclusive right-of-way which is propelled along a fixed guideway by the use of magnets on the rails and under the rail cars. Service between Baltimore and Washington has been studied.   See wnortheastmaglev.com for more information. 

MAP-21 - Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act 
MAP-21 was signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2012. The bill funded surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014.   www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21

Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
A federally required planning body responsible for the transportation planning and project selection in its region; the governor designates an MPO in every urbanized area with a population of over 50,000. The BRTB is the Baltimore region’s designated MPO.

Mixed Use
In land-use and transportation planning, generally refers to different compatible land uses located within a single structure or in close proximity to each other. An example is buildings that host stores on the bottom level and offices or residences above it.

The ability to move or be moved from place to place. (Source: FHWA Planning Glossary)

The types of transportation available for use, such as rail, bus, personal vehicle or bicycle. Also includes air and water travel.

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Nonattainment Area
Any geographic region of the United States that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated as not attaining the federal air quality standards for one or more air pollutants, such as ozone and carbon monoxide.

Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant that causes human health problems, and damages crops and other vegetation. It is a key ingredient of urban smog. The Baltimore region is a nonattainment area for Ozone. Learn more about ozone pollution.

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Particulate Matter
Also known as particle pollution or PM, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets found in the air. By themselves, these particles and droplets are invisible to the naked eye. But together, they can appear as clouds or a fog-like haze. PM is a serious health concern. Because of their small size, they can get into sensitive areas of the lungs and heart, causing major problems.  Learn more about particulate matter

Door-to-door bus, van and taxi services used to transport elderly and disabled riders. Paratransit is 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.

Pedestrian-Oriented Development
Development that is designed with an emphasis primarily on the streets, sidewalks, and on pedestrian access to the site and building(s), rather than emphasizing personal-vehicle access and parking. Buildings generally are placed close to the street and the main entrance is oriented to the street's sidewalk. Although parking areas may be provided, they are generally limited in size and are located at the side or rear of the buildings. This type of development also is characterized by the mix of uses within walking distance of one another, allowing people to move easily among many destinations.

Performance Measures
Indicators of how well the transportation system or specific transportation projects will improve transportation conditions.

Public Advisory Committee (PAC)
An advisory body to the BRTB made up of individuals and representatives of community organizations and industry professionals. Members are approved by the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board to (1) Provide independent, region-oriented advice on issues related to key regional transportation planning activities; (2) Promote public awareness and participation in the regional transportation planning process; and (3) Promote equity in the regional transportation planning process.  Learn more about the Public Advisory Committee

Public Transportation
Transportation by bus, rail, or other conveyance, either publicly or privately owned, which provides to the public general or special service on a regular and continuing basis. Also known as "mass transportation", "mass transit" and "transit." (Source for transit definitions: FHWA Planning Glossary)

Bus - Large motor vehicle used to carry more than 10 passengers, including school buses, intercity buses, and transit buses.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) - Bus service that is, at a minimum, faster than traditional local bus service and, at a maximum, includes dedicated lanes just for BRT operations. To reduce travel time and to provide faster service, BRT may incorporate ITS technologies that provide off vehicle payment, rapid boarding, and/or route divergences.

Circulator Bus - A bus serving an area confined to a specific locale, such as a downtown area or suburban neighborhood with connections to major traffic corridors.

Commercial Bus - Any bus used to carry passengers at rates specified in tariffs; charges may be computed per passenger (as in regular route service) or per vehicle (as in charter service).

Commuter Rail - Urban passenger train service for short-distance travel between a central city and adjacent suburb. Does not include rapid rail transit or light rail service.

Demand Response Vehicle - A nonfixed-route, nonfixed-schedule vehicle that operates in response to calls from passengers or their agents to the transit operator or dispatcher.

Feeder Bus - A bus service that picks up and delivers passengers to a rail rapid transit station or express bus stop or terminal.

Heavy Rail - An electric railway with the capacity to transport a heavy volume of passenger traffic and characterized by exclusive rights-of-way, multicar trains, high speed, rapid acceleration, sophisticated signaling, and high-platform loading. Also known as: Subway, Elevated (railway), or Metropolitan railway (metro).

Light Rail - A streetcar-type vehicle operated on city streets, semi-exclusive rights-of-way, or exclusive rights-of-way. Service may be provided by step-entry vehicles or by level boarding.

Mobility/Paratransit – A service operated by the Maryland Transit Administration for citizens who are unable to use Local Bus, Metro/Subway or Light Rail service. Service is provided within three-quarters (3/4) of a mile of any MTA fixed-route service in Baltimore City, Baltimore County or Anne Arundel County. mta.maryland.gov/mobility

Rapid Transit - Rail or motorbus transit service operating completely separate from all modes of transportation on an exclusive right-of-way.

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A form of transportation, other than public transit, in which more than one person shares the use of the vehicle, such as a van or car, to make a trip. Also known as "carpooling," "buspooling" or "vanpooling."   Visit MetroRideshare.com to learn more

Surface Transportation Program (STP)
One of the key funding programs in the federal transportation bill. STP moneys are “flexible,” meaning they can be spent on mass transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, as well as on roads and highways.

The traditional definition of sustainability calls for policies and strategies that meet society’s present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency)

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Transportation Control Measure (TCM)
A strategy to reduce driving or smooth traffic flows in order to cut auto emissions and resulting air pollution. Examples of TCMs include carpool lanes, new or increased transit service, and ridesharing services to get people into carpools and vanpools.

Technical Committee (TC)
The TC reviews and evaluates all transportation plans and programs from a technical standpoint. Composed of transportation planners and engineers appointed by BRTB members, the Technical Committee makes recommendations to the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board based on technical sufficiency, accuracy and completeness of all plans and programs. This input enables the Board to have a technical viewpoint prior to making decisions.

Refers to employees who work at an alternate site, such as at home, usually one or more days per week, thereby reducing their commutes. Learn more about Teleworkbaltimore.com 

Title VI
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.  

Traffic Count
A record of the number of vehicles, people aboard vehicles (occupancy) or both that pass a given checkpoint during a given time period.

Transportation Demand Management (TDM)
Programs designed to reduce demand by automobiles on the transportation system. Examples are the promotion and use of transit, alternative work hours, ridesharing, etc. Land-use planning also plays a role in providing alternate travel options.

Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
A short-term (covering four years) program of transportation projects that will use federal funds expected to flow to the region; the projects contained in the TIP are drawn from, and are consistent with, the long-range transportation plan.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
A type of development that links land use and transit facilities to support the transit system and help reduce sprawl, traffic congestion and air pollution. It 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.

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.

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Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP)
A work program and budget that lists the transportation studies and tasks to be performed by Baltimore Metropolitan Council staff or one of the BRTB members. The work program, which is developed annually, begins in July of a given year and ends the following June.

United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT)
The federal cabinet-level agency with responsibility for highways, public transportation, aviation and ports; it is headed by the Secretary of Transportation. The DOT includes the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration, among others.

Value Pricing
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 (VMT)
One vehicle (whether a car carrying one passenger or a bus carrying 30 people) traveling one mile constitutes a vehicle mile. This number is used in transportation models because reducing VMT can help ease traffic congestion and improve air quality.

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Refers to a single route, or a system of routes, between points that is relatively short, barrier-free, interesting, safe, well-lighted and comfortable, inviting pedestrian travel. Walkable Communities are areas that incorporate these kinds of principles.


If you have any comments about this glossary or just can’t find the word you are looking for, please contact  the Public Involvement Coordinator at 410-732-0500 x1047 or comments@baltometro.org.