Public transit has its own set of words that describe how service is run. Over time, many agencies have adopted their own terms. Here is a list of terms MTS uses and how we define them.

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Comma Separated Values – files in this plain text file format are organized with one record per line, and each field within the record is separated by a comma. Typically, the first line of the file contains the field names and subsequent lines contain the values for each record.

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General Transit Feed Specification – The GTFS transit feed specification defines a common format for public transportation schedules and associated geographic information. GTFS is a static format which specifies scheduled information.

Complete specification 

Transit Terms


A range of dates for which a set of schedules is valid and for which drivers bid for their shifts.

MTS Specific Information: MTS typically has three bookings/shakeups per year – one in January, one in June, and one in September.


A group of trips scheduled for a vehicle.


A sequence of stops on a route served sequentially from the starting terminal to the end terminal.

MTS Specific Information: Even if a trip remains exactly the same between two shakeups/bookings, a new trip_id will be created for the trip in the new schedule.


A physical place where a transit vehicle stops for boarding or alighting.

MTS Specific Information: Each stop has a unique 5-digit identifier.


The movement of a transit vehicle while not in service, either to/from the garage or to/from its next trip.

MTS Specific Information: GTFS doesn’t support deadhead movements since they are out of service trips, so a block might have a trip that ends at one place and starts from another.


The beginning or ending of a route.


The path of a transit vehicle. A common name/number as public reference for a defined sequence of stops and turns.

MTS Specific Information: In the GTFS files, some routes might have a route_id as a number (such as the trolley lines 510, 520, 530, and 540). Be sure to use the route_short_name or route_long_name when informing the public about these routes.


The text of the vehicle's destination sign typically calling out the destination of the vehicle. During deadhead movements, the sign may state “Not in Service” or “To Garage.”

MTS Specific Information: MTS almost always adds a letter to the front of the trip_headsign if a trip takes a deviation from the base route. For example, the trip_headsign will say, “A Kearny Mesa” for some Route 20 trips.  The actual headsign is always the route number plus the headsign, in this case, “20A Kearny Mesa.”

Arrival Time

The time a vehicle is scheduled to arrive at a stop/station.

Departure Time

The time a vehicle is scheduled to depart from a stop/station.


The time scheduled between two successive trips when the vehicle is parked out of service. The time is used for schedule recovery time to help with delays and for driver breaks.


An informational sheet given to a vehicle operator which lists the scheduling of the driver's shift for the day including which routes, times, deadheads, and breaks.


A sequence of tasks assigned to an operator for a shift consisting of deadheads, trips, and layovers.  It may consist of one or multiple pieces.


A part of a Run/Duty for the day.  A driver’s duty might contain several pieces from different blocks.

Recovery Time

See layover.