What Do Transit Riders Want?

22 Jul

Transit Center recently released the results to the “Who’s on Board 2016. What Today’s Riders Teach Us About Transit That Works” study and there are some interesting findings and recommendations to note.  The foundation conducted the study with the purpose of better understanding the needs and the behavior of transit riders across the United States.

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Some of the Findings:

The terms “choice riders” and “captive riders” currently used to describe transit riders are not accurate. Many people use transit occasionally, 53% of the respondents indicated that they use transit between one day a week and one day per month. Fourteen percent of the interviewees indicated that they were commuters, and 32% said they were using transit for multiple purposes.

People who live and work in areas with better transit ride more frequently, whether they own a car or not. When transit service increases, people turn to transit more often and for multiple purposes.

In addition to good service, having stations within walking distance is seen as more likely to promote the use of transit for various purposes.

People who use transit for multiple purposes are also multimodal, meaning they ride a bike, walk, take a taxi, car share, and are more likely to use a non-car alternative.

The availability of “shared–use mobility” options increases the likelihood that more people will use transit.

The so-called “captive riders” (people who don’t have cars and are thought of as using transit regardless of quality) use transit less frequently when the service is poor.

People value service frequency and travel time the most; they value the condition of the stations and the stops, having real-time information, reliability, and care less about flashy design, and Wi-Fi on board.

Large numbers of Americans of all ages indicated that they would prefer to live in a mixed-use neighborhood with access to transit, but they don’t currently have that option.

Recommendations:

Enable more people to walk to reliable transit by making the walk safe and pleasant and concentrating developments around transit.

Have transit in walkable places with many residents and with destinations for people to visit.

Increasing frequency of service and reducing travel time.

How do we score?

We looked at how Mercer and Ocean counties score on AllTransit Performance by using the All Transit ranking tool which is available at http://alltransit.cnt.org/. The Ranking uses station, stop, and frequency of service for bus, rail for all major transit agencies.  It also looks at connectivity and access to jobs.

In Mercer County, we have 11.7 acres of walkable neighborhoods within half a mile of transit, 4.75% commute by walking and live within half a mile of transit. There are 254,247 people who live within a half of mile of transit and no one lives within half of mile of high-frequency transit.  The overall AllTransit Performance score for Mercer County (on a scale from 0 to 10) is 4.5., and 8.25% commuters use transit.

Mercer County total population in 2015 – 366,513

In Ocean County, there are 13 acres of walkable neighborhoods within half a mile if transit, .61% commute by bicycle, and 2.02% commute by walking and live within half a mile of transit. Overall there are 301,356 people who live within half a mile of transit and 2.18% commuters use transit. The AllTransit Performance score is 1.7.

Ocean County total population in 2015 – 576,567

More transit information is available at http://alltransit.cnt.org/ , including numbers of jobs near transit, the number of farmers markets, transit trips per week, etc.

As you can see, Mercer County scored much higher on its Transit Score than Ocean County. To put the scores in perspective to some other counties in New Jersey, both were far below the higher scoring counties like Hudson (9.08), Essex (7.67) and Bergen (6.57). Clearly, there is more work to be done to meet the needs of transit riders.

If you live in Mercer or Ocean County, and you need more transportation information check out Good Moves, a GMTMA program that offers personalized transportation plans.

Sources:

ma.org/pg-good-moves.php

http://alltransit.cnt.org/metrics/?addr=mercer+county%2C+nj

http://transitcenter.org/2016/07/12/what-makes-transit-successful-whos-on-board/

 

Greater Mercer TMA Recognizes REI Princeton with the Employer Wheels Award

18 Jul

Greater Mercer TMA (GMTMA), League of American Bicyclists, and New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition staff were at REI Princeton for a celebration event on July 15. REI Princeton received two awards for their efforts to support bicycling in our community and among their employees.

GMTMA’s Employer Wheels Award was presented by Executive Director Cheryl Kastrenakes to REI for winning the Bike to Work Week Employer Challenge held from May 16 – May 20. A team of 13 REI employees participated in the Bike to Work Week challenge and together they biked 532.2 miles.  “REI Princeton’s support of biking to work makes it possible for their enthusiastic employees to commute by bike.  Encouragement and amenities for biking at the corporate level get more employees out of their cars.  We can’t wait to see how many miles they ride during bike to work week next year!” said Kastrenakes.

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The second award was the League of American Bicyclists “Bicycle Friendly Business” designation for providing safe accommodations and encouraging people to bike for both transportation and recreation. “The League of American Bicyclists is pleased to welcome REI-Princeton as a Bicycle Friendly Business.  In the short time REI has been in Princeton, the business has become an important asset to the surrounding community through its support for bicycling and the benefits it brings.  REI-Princeton joins hundreds of leading businesses across the nations that are transforming their communities by creating more bicycle-friendly destinations and workplaces. The League congratulates Colin Manning and Liz Usmiani of REI-Princeton for taking the lead by encouraging staff to ride their bikes to work and actively engaging with local advocacy organizations such a New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, Lawrence Hopewell Trail, and West Windsor Bike and Pedestrian Alliance, and Greater Mercer TMA; groups that working to make New Jersey a better place for all citizens.  ” said the League of American Bicyclists Board of Directors Chair, Karen Jenkins.

REI is one of the two businesses in Mercer County to receive recognition, and the only one to receive Gold level recognition from League of American Bicyclists and one of the 9 businesses who participated and logged their miles during the GMTMA Bike to Work Week event.  “At REI, we seek to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. REI Princeton is proud to have a staff that lives these values everyday by bicycle commuting throughout the year. We support the local cycling community by volunteering at charity bike rides, offering free bike maintenance classes and supporting multi-use trails through our community grant program. We are honored to receive the Employer Wheels Award from Greater Mercer TMA and Gold Bike Friendly Business designation from the League of American Bicyclists. We hope it inspires more people to get outside and ride.” said the REI Princeton Outdoor Programs and Outreach Market Coordinator, Liz Usmiani.

Congratulations REI Princeton and keep it up!

10 Tips to Prevent Vehicle Theft

8 Jul

On a January morning this year a car was stolen from a Princeton driveway while it was left idling. Also in January, an idling car was stolen with a 5 year old inside from a parking lot in Trenton (the 5 year old  is safe).  Similar incidents occurred throughout the state. Many of these vehicles were left unlocked.

And according to NHTSA, half of car thefts happen due to driver error and most often during July and August. Since over 40% of stolen vehicles are never recovered, here is what you can do to avoid becoming a victim:

  1. Don’t leave your car unlocked
  2. Take your key; do not leave it in the car
  3. Don’t leave any windows open
  4. Park in well-lit areas
  5. Install an anti-theft device (learn more here)
  6. Don’t leave valuables in the car
  7. Don’t leave the second set of keys in your car
  8. Park with the wheels turned towards the curb to make the car harder to tow
  9. Don’t leave your registration card in the car
  10. Have your VIN stamped on your windshield

The most popular car with thieves in NJ was the Honda Accord followed by Honda Civic and Dodge Caravan. You can see the full ranking here. Fact sheets on vehicle thefts can be found here.

If your car was stolen call the police and be prepared to give them the following information:  a detailed description of your vehicle, the VIN number, license plate number. You can find more info on what to do when your car is stolen here.

We are aware that many of these tips are common sense and yet many people fail to take precautions, but we are sharing these tips in the hope that fewer people have their vehicle stolen due to a lack of awareness.

As always, if you have a story you would like to share, please contact us, our next blog post could be your story.

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvNGiVuM6tY

http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/newtsm/VehicleTheftPrevention/2016/12095-Vehicle-Theft-Prevention-Infographic.pdf

http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Owners/Resources/Theft+Prevention

http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/july-is-national-vehicle-theft-protection-month-107624/

http://www.insurance.com/auto-insurance/claims/what-to-do-if-your-car-is-stolen.aspx

 

 

 

July 4th Holiday Travel Info and AAA Report

30 Jun

The 2016 AAA report  estimates that close to 43 million people will be traveling during the July 4th weekend, the highest number on record.  Gas prices are still lower than in previous years and many, over 84%, will be traveling by car. AAA also estimates a large number of people will be opting for air travel or other options.  During this 4th of July holiday public transit comes with many choices and special deals for those planning a getaway or just seeing the fireworks.

Infographic source: AAA.com

Infographic source: AAA.com

Check out some of these options for your holiday travel:

  • NJ Transit offers bus and train passes to the Jersey Shore, schedules and details available here
  • NJ Transit early getaway service for July 1st info available here
  • SEPTA’s Independence Day service information is available here
  • PATH will be operating on a Saturday schedule, details available here
  • Princeton’s FreeB bus service will not run on July 4th.

Bike shares are another way to get around in places like Princeton, New York City, and Philadelphia:

Car-share options:

And with all those people on the road, you might find our traffic alerts for Mercer County and Ocean County useful. You can find it at www.gmtma.org  and can be accessed on your mobile device (just not while you are driving).

If you didn’t make any plans yet, check out where you can see fireworks throughout the state.

Stay safe and enjoy your Holiday Weekend!

Sources:

AAA: Americans Will Take More Trips than Ever This Independence Day Weekend

NJ Sustainability Summit Takeaways

24 Jun

Last week on Wednesday, June 15, some of us at Greater Mercer TMA attended the Sustainability Summit organized by Sustainable Jersey.

Several interesting things were announced during the summit, including the new NJDEP “It pays to plug in” campaign, meant to increase workplace charging infrastructure.  There was also some sobering news from the keynote speaker.  Dr. Benjamin Strauss of Climate Central provided the keynote address – a sobering and sometimes frightening view of the current climate change, sea level rise and flooding impacts on New Jersey.  Dr. Strauss explained that while natural causes do contribute to the sea level rise, 67% of the global sea level rise is human caused, and CO2 emissions are the main culprit.

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In the worst case scenario, if CO2 emissions continue to grow at the same rate, the likelihood of experiencing 5 feet coastal flooding by 2030 is 46%, and by 2040 the likelihood increases to 69%. As soon as 2060 the likelihood soars to 97%!  To get an idea of how some parts of the NJ coast might appear you can check out the climate central risk finder tool.

You can see the rest of Dr. Strauss’s presentation here.  On page 57 there’s an amazing picture of what Newark airport might look like given the predicted rising sea level.

The good news is that if we start curbing emissions now, we can avert the worst case scenario. According to Dr. Strauss, taking serious measures now could make a big difference in the long run. Low emissions could decrease the risk of 5 FT flooding to approximately 30% by the year 2100 as opposed to 100% as soon as the year 2070 (on parts of the NJ coast).

In NJ steps being taken to curb emissions. An example is the As Mentioned earlier; the NJDEP is offering grants to increase the number of workplace EV charging stations. Grant and eligibility information available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/aqes/

The first item on Sustainable Jersey’s Energy Goals is “decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in to avert catastrophic climate impacts.” The Energy and Waste Standards were the first ones of the 14 standards in the new Gold Certification announced at the summit.  Municipalities have to lower Greenhouse emission by 3.6% per year.  The new Gold certification is the highest level of certification and will also measure performance, not only implementation of actions. Reductions in GHC will be measured every three years to see whether municipalities demonstrate continued reductions.   More info available here.

And if that got you thinking about climate change and wonder what can you do to reduce or offset your carbon footprint, check out these easy steps.

Sources:
www.sustainablejersey.com
http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/uploads/ssrf/NJ-Report.pdf
http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/ssrf/new-jersey

Meet the Step Into Spring Contest Winners

17 Jun

Greater Mercer TMA congratulates Hopewell Elementary School and its walking school bus group for winning the “Step into Spring” contest. The group used the NJ Walking School Bus App to organize walks with their children to and from school. Together they have completed a total of 591 trips, walked 379 miles, burned 37,878 calories, and reduced 160,224 grams of CO2 emissions. “We found the app easy to use and my son loves walking to school with his friends” said Susan P., one of the parents who walked with the group. They will receive a $100 gift card for the group, reflective umbrellas for parents and reflective drawstrings backpacks for students. Additionally Hopewell Elementary School will receive $250 to be used for safe walking and biking programs.

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Left to right: Principal David Friedrich, Jed K., Sheila R., Susan P., Sara K.

We want to thank all the parents who used the app and organized walks. Special thanks to Sara K., Sheila R. and Susan P., the parents who organized the winning group and to the principal of the Hopewell Elementary School, David Friedrich, for being strong supporters of walking and biking programs. As the NJ Department of Transportation’s designated regional coordinator for Safe Routes to School efforts, Greater Mercer TMA works to keep children in Mercer and Ocean counties healthy by encouraging them to stay active through walking and biking to school and offering safety education.

Summer break is almost here, but the NJ Walking School Bus App will still be available in September. There are many walking groups to join or parents can create their own groups and organize walks to and from school.

The app and tutorial are available at www.gmtma.org.

We Almost Made It To Vegas!

10 Jun

At least based on the number of miles our participants biked during Bike to Work Week.

We would like to thank everyone for participating in this year’s GMTMA Bike to Work Week; together we have pedaled more than 2,200 miles, 400 miles more than last year, and eliminated 300 car trips.

Many of you are regular bike commuters as it turns out from these comments:

“I do this from April to October. The best part is passing the cars in the traffic on Alexander Road.” John F.

“I often bike to work. It was great to be able to share the road with more bike commuters last week! I hope that some of them become regular commuters too.” Bob W.

“I love riding to work.  I ride in 4 days a week in the summer after the kids are out of school for the year, and I don’t need to worry about picking anyone up from aftercare.  It helps me start the day invigorated once the blood gets flowing and it helps with my overall wellbeing.  I feel mentally and physically healthier when I ride to work.” Michael O.

While others seem to have enjoyed it enough to become regular bike commuters, as some of you said:

“It was great to have a kick in the pants to forgo the car for the bike.   I’ve been meaning to get back to riding to work, but riding to work still takes more thought and organization than jumping in the car.  This was a great incentive for me to take those extra steps.” Mark G.

“I enjoyed it quite a bit. I biked more miles the previous week than I did during bike to work week. I plan on continuing the bike commute on a regular basis.” Andres A.

“I feel more awake and happier all day on the days that I rode in. Unfortunately, project deadlines prevented me from riding Wednesday Thursday and Friday, but I plan to ride as much as possible for the rest of the summer and possibly next winter! “Anthony I.

And we are sorry to hear this Jessica D., hope you are better now and enjoying the ride “I look forward to this week every year! I used to commute by bike in all kinds of weather. But we just moved, and my commute is now 12 miles one way. I am trying to keep riding as often as possible. Unfortunately, this particular week I injured my quad and only got to bike on Monday.”

And Michael B. we hope you are feeling better and enjoying the ride “Unfortunately I was sick on BTW week and could not ride the bike.  I plan to resume regular biking to work …”

This year we had over 130 participants and 14 won in the prize drawing. Congratulations to all the winners:  Juan C., Chris T., Jenny M., Joanna B., Gareth M., Silvia A., James A., Debbie A., John F., Aaron A., Jim S., Brian C.,  Michael M.

Elizabeth M. biked the most miles, 160, during bike to work week and won the prize for the most miles. You can see why she says “Who needs spin class when you can get outside and bike to work. Work those quads and glutes!”

REI Princeton is the winner of the Employer Wheels Prize

And the Visions of cycling photo contest winner is Jim S. who submitted this photo:

Jim Simon

Congrats Jim and thanks to everyone who shared their pictures. It was hard to pick just one!

And finally, we hope you all agree with Jenny M. when she says”  “I thought it was great, but I’m not done yet!”

Stay tuned for the 2016 Bike to Work Week report, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and keep in touch. In the meantime if you have a commuting story you would like to share with us, please contact us, your story could be our next blog post.

Many thanks to our Bike to Work Week sponsors:

Hart’s CycleryMcCaffrey’s SupermarketWhole Earth CenterKopp’s CycleSt. Lawrence RehabREISourland CyclesHalter’s Cyclery.

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