Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. If you don't see your questions, feel free to send us an email   with your question.

How is GIS used at MTC?

MTC uses GIS for a variety of purposes throughout the agency. Several examples are listed below.


  • GIS is used to map projects that it plans and funds, such as transportation projects in the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
  • GIS is used to perform spatial and statistical analyses to support long-range plans, such as analyses to evaluate the potential effectiveness of new transportation projects.
  • GIS is used to assess the public transportation system, such as an analysis of whether low-income, minority, disabled and elderly populations are being properly served by the transportation system.
  • GIS is used to create user-friendly tools to promote the use of public transit, such as MTC's Take Transit trip planner.
  • GIS is used to map the outputs of MTC's travel demand modeling (TDM) and related forecasting/modeling efforts.
  • GIS is used to analyze and display a wide variety of data and make it accessible and understandable to MTC staff, Commissioners, parternship agencies, & the general public.

What is the MTC Data Sharing Policy?

MTC maintains an extensive GIS database, in machine readable and hard copy formats, to support regional transportation planning. These various data files, as well as maps and other graphic pieces, are public records, and MTC welcomes their use by the planning community throughout the region.


MTC data is collected and analyzed by MTC staff. The appropriate use of such data in other planning programs and studies must be determined entirely by the planners and analysts of the firm or agency undertaking such projects. MTC makes no warranties, expressed or implied, of the appropriateness or accuracy of any results or opinions derived from any project not conducted or sponsored by MTC utilizing MTC's data.

Data Distribution and Sharing

MTC's GIS Datasets are organized into three Privacy Groups:


  • Privacy Level 1:
    Data that can be shared with no restrictions.
  • Privacy Level 2:
    TomTom derivative data that MTC can share with no restrictions.
  • Privacy Level 3:
    TomTom data (MTC Basemap layers including Roads). (See FAQs below for more detail on obtaining data in this category)

Privacy Level 1 and 2 data can be found on our Open Data portal site.


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Privacy Level 3 can only be accessed by Authorized Users Only. Authorized users can view and download this data from the TomTom Data section of this site. Please refer to the FAQs below for more detail on becoming an authorized user.


What Data is available from MTC?

MTC has acquired or developed a variety of GIS data to support our GIS activities. Unless restricted by licensing or non-disclosure agreements, these data are available for distribution to others. To browse our data catalog and download the most frequently requested data, go to our Open Data page.


What coordinate system does MTC use?

MTC has standardized on Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM), Zone 10N, NAD83 for all analysis based projects. However, much of the data stored on MTCs Data Portal is stored in WGS 1984 Web Mercator (WKID 3857). This format is more widely used for web mapping services. All units are measured in meters.


What base map does MTC use and how can I get access to it?

MTC currently licenses the Tom Tom MultiNet base map database. This database is used as a common basemap across all of MTC's spatial analytics and map publications. If you are a contractor or a consultant working on a project for MTC, the data can be obtained for MTC project work only. Consultants and contractors must fill out this form: Data Sharing Form to obtain the data.


If you are a partnership agency of MTC, the data may be acquired from MTC (at MTC's discretion) for no fee. Partnership agencies are required to fill out this form: Partnership Agency Data Sharing Form to obtain the data. This form must be updated annually.


Click Here to view the Tom Tom Users Guide.


Click Here to view the Tom Tom License Agreement.

What is a Partnership Agency?

A Partnership agency is defined as any non-private transportation or planning organization, transit operator, public agency or transportation research institution that serves one or more of the nine Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano or Sonoma) or a neighboring county. This includes Bay Area transit operators, congestion management agencies, ABAG, RIDES for Bay Area Commuters, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and Bay Area city and county government agencies.


What GIS software does MTC use?

MTC uses the ESRI suite of GIS software, including ArcGIS Desktop 10.x (Advanced, Standard and Basic), and ArcGIS Server 10.x. For travel demand modeling (TDM) purposes, MTC uses Cube Voyager, MINUTP, TP+ and VIPER. Additional statistical analysis is performed using R, SAS and EXCEL.