Archive | December, 2011

Some Unsolicited — But Interesting! Holiday Travel Stats

29 Dec

We came across some cool transportation stats from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics at the Research and Innovative Technology Administration. Just bring being out on the roads, you probably already know that the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. During the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a ­destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent, and during the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday period the number rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year. And although heavy media attention focuses on crowded airports and bus and train stations on the Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving, when personal vehicle trips are added to the mix the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) reveals that Thanksgiving Day is actually a heavier long-distance travel day than Wednesday.

Unlike Thanksgiving, which always falls on the fourth Thursday of November, the Christmas/New Year’s travel period, and the resulting travel pattern, varies depending on the day of the week on which the two holidays fall. In 2001, when Christmas and New Year’s Day fell on Tuesday, the Saturday and Sunday preceding Christmas and Christmas Day were generally the busiest travel days of the entire 17-day holiday travel period. The days immediately following Christmas were generally busier than New Year’s Day and the two following days. In 2003, the holidays are on Thursday, which no doubt will change the travel patterns during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period.

The average Thanksgiving long-distance trip length is 214 miles, compared with 275 miles over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday. For the remainder of the year, average trip distance is 261 miles.

About half of holiday travelers make same-day trips without spending a night away. Long-distance travelers who make overnight trips at Thanksgiving spend an average of just under three nights away. At the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, the average increases to nearly four nights away. The average during the rest of the year lies between the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s totals.

Most holiday travel is domestic. Over 99 percent of the long-distance trips that begin during the Thanksgiving holiday period are to destinations within the United States. During the longer Christmas/New Year’s period, however, 3 percent of long-distance travel is international.

Of course, visiting friends and family is the single biggest reason Americans travel during the holidays. Visits account for 53 percent of all Thanksgiving long-distance trips and 43 percent of long-distance trips during Christmas/New Year’s. Visits make up only 24 percent of all long-distance travel during the remainder of the year. While travel to visit family and relatives is up significantly during the holidays, other pleasure and leisure travel remains relatively unchanged.

Good News for Worried Parents: Fewer Teens are Driving

27 Dec

An interesting article by Lisa Hymas in Grist today notes that, “In 2008, just 31 percent of American 16-year-olds had their driver’s licenses, down from 46 percent in 1983, according to a new study in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.” The numbers were down for other groups too: According to the study, about 87 percent of 19-year-olds in 1983 had their licenses, but 25 years later, that percentage had dropped to about 75 percent. Other teen driving groups also have declined: 18-year-olds fell from 80 percent in 1983 to 65 percent in 2008, 17-year-olds decreased from 69 percent to 50 percent, and 16-year-olds slipped from 46 percent to 31 percent. Drivers in their 20s and 30s also saw their ranks fall as a percentage of their age group population — down nearly 10 percentage points for 20-somethings and down about five percentage points for the 30-somethings.

I grew up in a very walkable community in New Jersey and for years I have been telling anyone who’ll listen that the best thing about growing up in a town like that is that young people have freedom to get around on foot or on bike without begging parents for rides, getting their own car, or getting rides from other teenagers who are known to be higher-risk drivers than other age groups because of their inexperience. With the predominance of cell phones and texting right now, the teen demographic is even less safe behind the wheel than it used to be. While campaigns against drunk driving and cell phone use while driving are undoubtedly important safety measures, one of the most important things we can do as a society is to simply make it easier for people to get around without driving.

It’s Time for Our Requisite “Ride Transit for the Holidays” Post

22 Dec

We know we sound like a broken record. But really, you should, if at all possible. Particularly if you’re planning on imbibing for any of those holiday parties, of course. And NJ Transit is upping its game for the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s Eve weekends to give people more transit options. And you’re also in luck if you’re traveling with your kids — NJ Transit is offering a special extension of the Family Super Saver Fare, which allows up to two children ages 5 through 11 to travel free with each customer paying/presenting any valid fare. Usually limited to weekends, the Family Super Saver Fare will be in effect continuously from 7 p.m. Friday, December 23 through 6 a.m. Tuesday, January 3, on all trains, buses and light rail lines. This extension is offered in addition to NJ Transit’s policy that allows up to three children ages four and under to travel free of charge at all times with each passenger paying/presenting any valid fare. And what kid doesn’t love a ride on the bus or train?

On Friday, Dec. 23, trains will operate on a weekday schedule on all lines with additional “early getaway” service from New York Penn Station, Newark Penn Station and Hoboken Terminal starting at 1 p.m. on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Raritan Valley, Morris & Essex, Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines.  Newark Light Rail, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and River Line will operate on a weekday schedule. Bus schedules vary by route—customers are advised to check their timetables or visit njtransit.com for schedule information.  Selected routes will operate on special holiday schedules to match service with ridership demand, including early getaway service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal starting around 1 p.m. to accommodate the heaviest travel, with less frequent service during the peak periods and later in the evening due to lower ridership.  Visit njtransit.com for special holiday timetables.

On Saturday, Dec. 24, trains will operate on a weekend schedule.  In addition, service on the Meadowlands Rail Line will operate for the Jets/Giants game.  Newark Light Rail will operate on a Saturday schedule. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will operate on a weekend schedule. River Line will operate on a Saturday schedule. Buses will operate on a regular Saturday schedule on all lines.

On Christmas Day, Dec. 25, trains will operate on a weekend schedule. Newark Light Rail and River Line will operate on a Sunday schedule. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will operate on a weekend schedule. Buses will operate on a regular Sunday schedule on all lines.

On Monday, Dec. 26, trains will operate on an enhanced weekend schedule, with additional trains to and from New York/Hoboken during “peak periods” on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line, Raritan Valley Line, Morris & Essex Lines, Montclair-Boonton Line and Port Jervis lines. Newark Light Rail and River Line will operate on a Sunday schedule.  Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will operate on a weekend schedule. Bus schedules vary by route—customers are advised to check their timetables or visit njtransit.com for schedule information.

From Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Thursday, Dec. 29, trains will operate on a modified weekday schedule on all rail lines with additional New York-bound trains between 10 a.m. and noon on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast and Morris & Essex lines. Customers are encouraged to travel early, if possible, when ridership is light. Some early-morning trains will not operate, due to expected light ridership—customers should visit njtransit.com and use the “Station-to-Station Trip Planner” to find trains between the holidays.  Newark Light Rail, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and River Line will operate on a weekday schedule.  Buses will operate on a weekday schedule, with extra bus service to and from New York on selected routes.

On Friday, Dec. 30, trains will operate on a modified weekday schedule on all rail lines with additional New York-bound trains between 10 a.m. and noon on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast and Morris & Essex lines. Customers are encouraged to travel early, if possible, when ridership is light. Some early-morning trains will not operate, due to expected light ridership—customers should visit njtransit.com and use the “Station-to-Station Trip Planner” to find trains between the holidays. Newark Light Rail, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and River Line will operate on a weekday schedule. Bus schedules vary by route—customers are advised to check their timetables or visit njtransit.com for schedule information. Selected routes will operate on special holiday schedules to match service with ridership demand, including early getaway service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal starting around 1 p.m. to accommodate the heaviest travel, with less frequent service during the peak periods and later in the evening due to lower ridership. Visitnjtransit.com for special holiday timetables.

On Saturday, Dec. 31, trains will operate on a weekend schedule, with additional New York-bound trips in the evening on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast and Morris & Essex lines.  Newark Light Rail will operate on a Saturday schedule.  Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will operate on a weekend schedule.  River Line will operate on a Saturday schedule.  Buses will operate on a regular Saturday schedule on all lines, with additional service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal offered into the evening on select lines.  Visit njtransit.com for additional details.

In addition, River Line will operate extended late-night service on New Year’s Eve and after midnight on New Year’s Day to accommodate customers attending the festivities on the Camden Waterfront.  Special late-night trains will operate between Trenton and Camden, making all local stops.  Visitnjtransit.com for details.

Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will also operate some added late-night service on New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day to accommodate travelers returning home from midnight celebrations.

Throughout the New Year’s Eve festivities, extra police will be on hand across the NJ TRANSIT system to ensure the safety of customers.

After midnight New Year’s Day, Sunday, Jan. 1, special late-night trains will operate on most rail lines, and expanded bus service will be provided from the Port Authority Bus Terminal between midnight and 5:30 a.m. on selected routes.  Visit njtransit.com for details.

On New Year’s Day, Janu. 1, trains will operate on a weekend schedule.  In addition, service on the Meadowlands Rail Line is scheduled to operate for the Giants/Cowboys game.  Newark Light Rail will operate on a Sunday schedule. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will operate on a weekend schedule.  River Line will operate on a Sunday schedule.  Buses will operate on a regular Sunday schedule.

On Monday, Jan. 2, trains will operate on an enhanced weekend schedule, with additional trains to and from New York/Hoboken during “peak periods” on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line, Raritan Valley Line, Morris & Essex Lines, Montclair-Boonton Line and Port Jervis lines. Newark Light Rail will operate on a Saturday schedule.  River Line will operate on a Sunday schedule.  Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will operate on a weekday schedule. Bus schedules vary by route—customers are advised to check their timetables or visit njtransit.com for schedule information.

Travel tips

  • Check Schedules in Advance:  Plan your trip online to take advantage of extra trains and buses.
  • Travel Early:  From Dec. 27 through Dec. 30, NJ TRANSIT rail lines will operate on a modified weekday schedule.  Avoid the crowds by traveling during the traditional peak-period (6 a.m.-9 a.m.) when ridership is light. 
  • Allow Extra Travel Time:  Traffic congestion during the holidays may affect bus travel times to and from New York City, so customers should plan accordingly.
  • Ticketing:  Purchase round-trip tickets at the start of your trip to speed your return.  Use ticket vending machines or see a ticket agent, if available, to avoid possible surcharges.  Bus customers departing Port Authority Bus Terminal are reminded that tickets must be purchased before boarding the bus.
  • Luggage:  Travel as light as possible. Passengers with luggage or packages should use the overhead racks or designated luggage spaces. On multilevel trains, customers with large bags should use the mezzanine levels at the ends of each car.

Transit Benefit Still in Jeopardy

21 Dec

If you’re following the Senate’s payroll tax drama, you probably know that last week the Senate extended the payroll tax benefit for two months. Unfortunately for transit riders, the Senate did not act on a measure to maintain parity between the commuter parking and transit benefits — meaning that transit riders will get their pre-tax benefits cut in half come January 1st, while those who drive to work will see a small jump in how much the government subsidizes their parking expenses. The parking benefit will be increased by $10, to $240, which is nearly double the amount of the transit benefit. The transit benefit is being increased from its original level of $120 to $125 for a cost of living adjustment.

According to the federal transit advocacy group T4America, there is still hope for the early months of 2012 when Congress comes back in session, but with Congress about to leave for the year, this change will definitely be enacted come January 1.

It’s not too late to make a call now so Senators continue to hear that this provision will do serious harm to transit commuters in January. Furthermore, transit advocates will likely gear up to put more pressure on congressmen in early 2012 after Congress returns from its holiday break.

We will keep you updated on how to help on this important issue. As the Washington Post said in a recent editorial:

The argument for the transit benefit is grounded in the fact that increased use of public transportation benefits everyone — even those who choose to drive because there are fewer cars on the road. No such argument can be made in subsidizing the parking costs of those who drive to work. Workers can choose to drive and park — but there is no public interest in government picking up part of the tab.

Cops Mock Seattle Jogger

21 Dec

Isn’t Seattle supposed to be really walk and bike friendly? Recently a jogger was hit in an auto accident in Seattle…and the police offers who arrived at the scene scolded him and told him that he should have been in a car instead. Strange days indeed.

Time to Walk off Those Latkes

20 Dec

Happy first night of Hanukkah, On the Move readers. Remember that anything fried in oil, while sooooo delicious, is not exactly good for your waistline. But you know what that IS good for your waistline? Walking. In this  cool new video on the importance of moderate daily exercise, Dr. Mike Evans of the University of Toronto argues that getting 30 minutes of exercise a day is the single best thing you can do with your health. The impact on all manner of potential health problems is staggering.

We’re not talking high intensity marathon training by any means. While it’s great to get your heart rate up with intense cardio, just 30 minutes of simple walking does the trick when it comes to your health. Do it all at once, or break it up throughout your day, but fitting in 30 minutes of cardio every single day is proven to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, knee arthritis, depression, and once you get older, hip fractures, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and early death. Convinced yet?

Of course, here at GMTMA, we think that a great way to get in a little daily exercise is to replace some of your car trips with some walking or biking trips. You can think about physical activity as a lifestyle choice rather than a single task to check off your to-do list. Look for ways to walk or cycle more. For example, bike or walk to an appointment rather than drive, banish all elevators and use the stairs, briskly walk to the bus stop then get off one stop early, park at the back of the lot and walk into the store or office, run errands on foot whenever possible.

Back in May, people were shocked to learn that sitting is killing you. But with this good news — that walking just 30 minutes a day can significantly extend your longevity and preserve your quality of life — making a few small changes are well worth your while. Get out of the car, get onto the sidewalk!

Get a Princeton Junction Parking Permit…TODAY!

19 Dec

Did you know that an average 7,030 people board NJ Transit trains at the Princeton Junction station every single weekday? As you may already know, the wait list for a parking permit is the stuff of legends – it’s up to eight years long now.

But we at GMTMA know a secret. We can help you get a parking permit today. Yes, today.

If you apply for a rideshare parking permit, there is absolutely no waiting list. That means if you drive to the station with two or more people in your vehicle, you can get a rideshare permit immediately. At least two people must be in the car every time you park using a rideshare permit, but that’s the only restriction.

With a rideshare permit, you can park in the Wallace Road daily parking lot on the New York-bound side of the tracks. It’s really close! These designated rideshare spaces are reserved for the exclusive use of rideshare permit holders from 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. on weekdays. After 10:00 a.m., unused rideshare spaces are open to the public for daily parking.

The rideshare parking permit application is available on the West Windsor Parking Authority website.

Ridesharing will not only get you a parking permit today and a REALLY close reserved parking space, it will also save you money and decrease carbon emissions. If you rideshare or carpool with one other person you will both save 50% on the cost of gas and car maintenance and there will be one less car on the road creating air pollution.