Meet our Office Manager – Portia Pedwards-Gyampo

21 Nov

She has been with GMTMA for more than 20 years and she is greeting everyone in the morning with a friendly smile.

Q: What attracted you to this job? 
Portia: I like to make sure the office is running smoothly and answer people’s questions.

Q: What is a favorite thing about your job?
Portia: I like the variety of things I get to do.

Q:Can you share something about your commute?
Portia: I like public transportation and I take the bus almost every day.  Works well getting to the workplace, I rarely need to drive. Plus I get to walk to and from the bus and that is my exercise.

Q:What motivates you to want to change the way people commute?
Portia:There are so many reasons why, think of the savings and the wear and tear on their vehicles and the fact that you are playing your part to make the environment better. No matter how small your part is, it matters in the long run.

Q: What do you like most about your job?
Portia: The customer service, love talking to people and giving them the information they need.

Q: What was the best moment of your life?
Portia: Still waiting.

Q: What is your favorite transportation story?
Portia: I love to read so I really enjoy  having the time to just relax and read each day while riding the bus.  I have my routine…newspaper in the morning and a novel in the afternoon.  I guess you could say those are my commuting stories!

Q: What is your favorite commuting app/gadget? 
Portia: My cell phone and the NJ Transit My Bus app that lets you plug in the bus stop number and receive a text that will tell you when it will arrive.

Q: What else would you like to do if you were not working in transportation?
Portia: A buyer for home goods – furnishings and accessories

Q:Pet Peeve    
Portia: Rude people

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Portia: I am a proud first time grandma so I like spending time with my grandchild.
I love to shop! That’s my sport! (She takes the bus for that too even though she owns a car)

Q:Your favorite food?
Portia: Fresh food stuff—fruit, vegetables, seafood and chicken  (this sounds healthy and delicious)

Thank you Portia!

Bike Commuter Journal – High Gear to Happiness

14 Nov

Lifebycycle_Commuter Journal

Our guest blogger this week, Robert Stasio, is sharing some thoughts about cycling.

I’ve been commuting to work in the Plainsboro and West Windsor area on and off for 8 years, and bikes were always a central focus of my life. Post-college, the bike was replaced with the car, shuttling from one commitment to the next. With increasing work responsibilities, I lost sight of what matters most. I started focusing on convenience over happiness and status over health. After a few years the longer car commutes, office lunches, and stress started taking a mental and physical toll. Gym memberships collected dust, and bigger pants couldn’t solve the problems any longer. Suddenly I didn’t recognize myself. A year ago I had an “awakening” and realized it was time for a number of changes, including a commitment to consistently commute by bike no matter what.

Today, it’s going well. As it turns out, this area is actually amazing for biking to work, to the store, or just for fun. Often it’s actually EASIER than driving. You have your choice of bike lanes, bike paths, or even roads, and it’s getting even better thanks to the hard work of many people.  More importantly, there is a growing tolerance on the roads, and most drivers are also closet bicyclists just waiting to start bike commuting as well. You can even expand your biking with a simple bus or train excursion.

My commute brings me past the beautiful fields of Stult’s Farm, down the boulevard-esque bike lanes of Southfield Road, and even through Mercer County Park, where I routinely pass dozens of deer. I’ve also rode in rain, floods, and snow, and enjoyed every minute. I take in the beautiful scenery and admire the changing seasons, all from the seat of my bike.

Riding a bike is more than just exercise or cost savings; it’s fun too. It’s the high gear to happiness!

Thank you Robert!

If you have a commuting story you would like to share, please contact us.

Meet our Commuter Services Manager – Adele Clark

7 Nov

Adele

Q:What is your job at GMTMA?
Adele: I maintain GMTMA’s Rideshare database. I find carpool matches for people that live and work in the same area and have similar schedules. I refer people to existing vanpools or help them to start their own vanpool. I also assist vanpools with the paperwork needed for NJ TRANSIT’s Vanpool Sponsorship Program. GMTMA has 50 registered vanpools in Mercer and Ocean Counties.

I respond to travel planning inquiries .These days I get many calls from people who are Amazon employees at the Robbinsville distribution center and help them find a personalized transportation plan and connections to the Zline, more than 90 people called this month.

Q: What is a favorite thing about your job?
Adele: I like talking to people, I have been here for quite a while and in talking to them I feel like I know them,   and I really enjoy this part of my job.

Q: Why is transportation important for you?
Adele: It is such a vital part of our lives, if you can’t get from point A to point B then what do you do?

Q: What motivates you to want to change the way people commute? 
Adele: Reducing congestion and pollution.

Q: What is your favorite movie? 
Adele: “Sleepless in Seattle”, my all-time favorite.

Q: Favorite transportation/commuting story
Adele: This one is not a favorite story but definitely memorable – being stuck in traffic during a winter storm and it took me 6 hours to get home. I was working in New Brunswick and travelling on Route 18, the blizzard had covered everything, you could not see the median, could not see where you were going.

Q: What else would you like to do if you were not working in transportation?
Adele: I would probably work in social services, maybe work with the Veterans, helping them put their life back together , get housing, jobs, get back to civilian life.

Pet Peeve: 
Adele: Rubberneckers (unless you are stopping to help, keep going ahead, don’t slow the traffic).

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Adele: Spend time with family and friends.

Q: Favorite food?
Adele: Eggplant parmigiana .
If you want to start carpooling or vanpooling or if you need to rent a bike locker at the Princeton Junction train station, Adele can help with that.

Greater Mercer TMA 30th Anniversary and NJ Smart Workplaces Awards

31 Oct

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Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA), the regional Transportation Management Association for Mercer and Ocean Counties, recognized 17 local businesses as 2014 New Jersey Smart Workplaces at an awards ceremony at GMTMA’s Annual Luncheon and 30th Anniversary at the Hyatt Regency Princeton, on Thursday Oct 30th.  NJ TRANSIT Executive Director, Veronique Hakim was Guest Speaker at the Luncheon.

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Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim was named Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT in 2014 and is responsible for the agency’s bus, light rail, and commuter rail network. She also oversees the agency’s 11,000 employees, and capital and operating budgets of more than $3 billion annually.

In her speech, Ms. Hakim acknowledged the importance of private/public partnerships and the important role GMTMA played in the development of the Zline and also the 655 bus service. “We also appreciate your support on the 655 Bus including your recent marketing and outreach plans helped raise awareness of that, first completely new bus routes to be directly operated by our agency since 2005. This brought two private partners, two MPO’s, one county, a nonprofit and the State’s public transportation agency to get together and get something done, a great collaboration.” These collaborations have long lasting effects, both economic and social.
Ms. Hakim also stressed the importance of creating more public/private partnerships that will maximize the service where needed and help the economy of the region. There is a link between the economic opportunity of the state and helping the local businesses and people that are supported by access to public transportation.

According to Mrs. Hakim “The TMA here has a great purpose and vision and it is a reminder of what can happen when likeminded people get together with a vision.”

The New Jersey Smart Workplaces (NJSW) program is a prestigious recognition earned by employers for offering outstanding commuter services to their employees. The awards program is a partnership of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Association and GMTMA.

3“GMTMA congratulates these outstanding employers who are offering their employees a wide variety of commuting options, taking steps to improve regional quality of life, traffic, air quality, and public health,” said Cheryl Kastrenakes, GMTMA’s Executive Director. “We are honored to be awarding these companies and helping to promote programs that support sustainable, environmentally-friendly transportation.”  GMTMA Board President Jack Kanarek noted that the efforts of these companies “impact all of us by making our communities cleaner and more sustainable.”

Employers are awarded at one of four levels: bronze, silver, gold or platinum. Levels are based on the scope and number of transportation activities they offer to employees.

Examples of qualifying activities include:

Regularly promoting commute options to staff, hosting on-site commuter events, providing transit schedules, forming carpools or vanpools, offering teleworking, offering flextime, providing bicycle racks, and offering a pre-tax transit program.

The 2014 awardees are:

PLATINUM: A-1 Limousine Inc., Albridge Solutions an affiliate of  Pershing LLC- BNY Mellon Company, Amazon, Bank of America, Educational Testing Service, Horizon NJ Health, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst, New Jersey Department of Transportation, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group, TYCO, Princeton University

GOLD : Bloomberg LP, Municipality of Princeton, Princeton HealthCare System

SILVER: Greater Mercer TMA

BRONZE: Johnson&Johnson

GMTMA would like to congratulate to all the NJ Smart Workplaces Awardess and thank all the participants for being there for our 30th Anniversary.

 

Halloween Safety Tips

29 Oct

Halloween

Now that the days are shorter and many trick-or-treaters are going to be out during the twilight and evening hours, GMTMA would like to share a few Halloween safety tips.

For pedestrians

Trick-or-treat with an adult.

Choose the safest routes to walk, try to avoid busy traffic areas, and always walk on the sidewalk. Limit the number of street crossings.

Wear light colored clothing with reflective tape or stickers.  Children can carry glow sticks to improve visibility.

Make sure the costumes don’t make it hard for children to walk and try to avoid face masks because they reduce visibility. Instead children could use face painting.

Watch for cars turning or pulling out of driveways. Don’t cross between parked cars.

Put the electronic devices away and keep heads up, be alert.

 

For motorists

Slow down and make sure you pay extra attention in residential neighborhoods.

Watch for children at intersections, crossways, and curbs.

Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.

Remember popular times for trick or treating are between 5:30pm and 9:30pm.

Watch for children dressed in dark clothing.

Put your electronic devices away; do not drive while distracted.

Do not drive while under the influence.

Stay safe and Happy Halloween!

 

Source: http://www.safekids.org/tip/halloween-safety-tips

Meet GMTMA’s Mobility Manager – Chad Dixson

24 Oct

IMG_0098Mobility Management focuses on transportation needs for all categories of people and improving access to transportation, working to create local partnerships that improve access to transportation for people with special needs, older adults, and individuals with lower incomes.

Q: What attracted you to this job?
Chad:  I served on a TMA board in Chester County, PA and experienced the positive and important things TMAs accomplish for transportation and the environment.

Q: Why is transportation important for you?
Chad:  It is a critical component to economic development, sustainability and quality of life.

Q: What is a favorite thing about your job? 
Chad: Implementing projects that make a difference and seeing them work in real life after all the planning.

Q: What motivates you to want to change the way people commute? 
Chad: Finding the right balance between efficient transportation systems that are also friendly to the environment.

Q: Where do you stand on the climate change debate? Do you believe climate change is real?
Chad: Yes.

Q: What do you like most about your job? 
Chad: Getting to meet and work with all the different and interesting people in the transportation industry.  Interacting with the public to teach them about transportation and working with them to implement projects.

Q: What is your favorite movie?
Chad: Good Fellas.

Q: What was the best moment of your life?
Chad: Meeting my wife.

Q: Favorite transportation/commuting story?  
Chad: Not necessarily favorite but memorable, I was in Pittsburgh visiting family over Thanksgiving break.  I had a meeting on the following Monday in Philadelphia where my attendance was mandatory.  I had to drive back in near blizzard conditions.  A trip that was normally 4 ½ hours took 9 hours.

Q: Favorite commuting app/gadget 
Chad: The satellite radio in my car.

Q: What else would you like to do if you were not working in transportation?
Chad: General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Q: Pet Peeve:
Chad: People who don’t know how to merge into traffic.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time? 
Chad: Spend time with my family, watch football, and golf.

Q: Favorite foods: 
Hoagies, wings, and pizza.

10,000 Steps Goal

17 Oct

Japanese

As more and more of us are trying to get more active and take care of our health, we keep investing in all kinds of gadgets that will keep us on track.  I use a Fitbit to monitor my activity and keep checking a few times a day to adjust accordingly and reach my “10,000 steps goal”.

But where did this 10,000 steps goal came from? Why is it the recommended daily distance/number of steps?

I have found the answer!  And in a book about Japanese home cooking of all places!

The book is “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen” written by Naomi Moriyama and her husband William Doyle.  The authors talk about the merits of a Japanese diet and the difference fresh home cooked meals (many vegetables and fish) and portion control make to their health.  They have also included recipes and suggestions on where to procure the ingredients.

Japanese people are typically healthy and not overweight, and it is not simply because of the way they eat or because they go to gym regularly. It is because of something the author calls “incidental exercise”, that means they walk everywhere, they go up and down the stairs or as the author said about her father who is his seventies, he “gets around the neighborhood on a basic old-fashioned bicycle”. The Author notes that this is true all over Japan, not only in big cities like Tokyo. Being active is a lifestyle and walking as a way of keeping active is very popular among Japanese.

According to the authors the 10,000 steps idea came forty years ago from a Japanese researcher named Yoshiro Hatano as the concept of a “first cheap, reliable pedometer.”   Nowadays many health authorities concur with Mr. Hatano and they recommend walking 10,000 steps a day as a way of keeping healthy.

Reaching the 10,000 steps a day goal may not be possible every day (sometimes I miss my mark by more than I like), but making little changes in our life can certainly increase daily activity.  For example, parking further from the grocery store will add to the number of steps, taking the stairs instead of the escalator, and if possible walking or biking to work. And on top of all that, it’s greening the environment!

If you want to share a story about how you reach your 10,000 steps goal please contact us.

Source:  “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen” by Naomi Moriyama, William Doyle.

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