Archive | October, 2012

UPDATED Nov 2nd: Transportation Services Improving After Sandy

31 Oct

The storm is over and the cleanup has begun but it is still difficult and can be dangerous to get around some towns. Below is a list of transportation service closures and openings.

NJ Transit: NJ TRANSIT has extending the validity period for October monthly passes until Wednesday, November 7 for customer convenience. UPDATE: Northeast Corridor service is restored between the Trenton Transit Center and NY Penn Station; service is on a special schedule. Riverline has resumed regular weekday service. Limited bus service. Bus route Nos. 600, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, 607, 608, 609, 610, 611, 612, 613, 619 & 655 remain suspended until further notice.

Access Link: Service is operating in the following regions: Region 2, which includes Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.Region 3, which includes Atlantic, Cape May and Southern Ocean County.

SEPTATrenton Regional Rail: On or close to schedule.  West Trenton Regional Rail: On or close to schedule.

Amtrak: Amtrak will provide Acela Express and Northeast Regional modified service on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., via New York City, on Friday, November 2. Before traveling to Boston-South Station, New York-Penn Station, Philadelphia-30th Street Station, or other Amtrak locations, passengers should make reservations and/or use the eTicketing option with their computers and smartphones. Amtrak services to and from New York City are subject to delay while repairs continue.

PATH: Service is suspended for approximately 7 – 10 days.

MTA: Service will be FREE until 11:59pm Friday November 2nd. For information about which lines are suspended please go to www.mta.info/

Ride Provide: UPDATE: Service is running.

Bank of America/ML Shuttle: Service suspended until further notice.

Princeton FreeB: Running on or close to schedule.

Route 130 Connection: Service suspended until further notice.

Mercer County TRADE: Full service is running. Please call 609 530-1971 for more information.

Bridges into/out of NYC are open. Holland Tunnel remains closed.

Bridges over the Delaware between NJ and PA are open.

The Telecommuting Revolution

26 Oct

Workers in the Unites States are increasingly using their homes as their offices. Over at Atlantic Cities, Richard Florida analyzes a new census report (pdf) that shows the number of people working from home exclusively increased from 4.8% to 6.6% between 1997 and 2010. He notes:

Working from home is closely associated with the share of commuters who bike to work (.51) and negatively associated with the share of commuters who drive to work by car (-.50).

[W]orking from home is associated with higher levels of happiness and well-being (measured by Gallup surveys with a correlation of .50). This is not surprising since long commutes by car are one of those things that takes the biggest negative toll on our happiness.

So, where are these trends away from traditional office settings most prominent? Here’s the top 10:

  1. Boulder, Colorado (10.9%)
  2. Medford, Oregon (8.4%)
  3. Santa, Fe, New Mexico (8.3%)
  4. Kingston, New York (8.1%)
  5. Santa Rosa, California (7.9%)
  6. Mankato, Minnesota (7.7%)
  7. Prescott, Arizona (7.6%)
  8. St. Cloud, Minnesota (7.6%)
  9. Athens, Georgia (7.5%)
  10. Austin, Texas (7.3%)
Some other notable statistics from the Census Bureau report:
  • More occasional telecommuters: The percentage of all workers who worked at least 1 day at home increased from 7.0 percent in 1997 to 9.5 percent in 2010.
  • What kind of work?: 25 percent of home-based workers were in management, business, and financial occupations
  • Increase in tech workers: Between 2000 and 2010 home-based workers in computer, engineering, and science occupations increased by 69 percent.
  • Self-employed majority: Nearly half of home-based workers were self-employed.
As Florida puts it, telecommuting is a trend we can expect to see more of:
The combination of improved technology, congested highways and higher oil prices means the trend to working at home is likely to increase in the future.

See what percentage of your city works from home.

Do you telecommute? If not, would you like to? GMTMA can help your company start up a telecommuting and compressed work week program that works for you. Contact us today for more information!

Be Spooky But Stay Safe!

24 Oct

Halloween is supposed to be scary but not dangerous! GMTMA has a few tips to stay safe over the Halloween holiday.

Walking Tips for Kids and Parents

  • Young children need a parent or other adult to go trick or treating with them. There is no magic age when children are old enough to walk alone. Parents need to judge when their children are mature enough to go without an adult.
  • Have a good ratio of parents/adults to children. For young children, consider 1 adult for every 3 children.
  • Arrange the adults so that there is an adult in the front and one in the back, to prevent children from running ahead or lagging behind the group.
  • Choose the safest routes to walk.
    • Pick places where there are sidewalks or paths separated from traffic if possible.
    • Look for well-lit streets with slow traffic.
    • Remind children to watch for cars turning or pulling out of driveways.
  • Limit the number of street crossings. Avoid crossing busy or high-speed roads.
  • Review pedestrian safety rules with children. Tell them to:
    • Even when adults are looking, always look for cars for yourself.
    • Stop at the curb and look left, right and left again for traffic.
    • Wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing. Keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing.
    • When crossing the street at an intersection, obey traffic signs and signals and look for yourself to see if cars are coming. Look left, right and left and then behind you and in front of you for turning cars.
    • Walk, don’t run, when crossing the street and going from house to house.
  • Think visibility. Wear bright colors, use retro reflective materials. Carry flashlights. In bad weather, visibility is even more important.
  • Do a costume check. Can the children walk easily in the outfit? Make sure the masks or head gear allow the children to see clearly what is around them. Be sure they can safely negotiate steps on dimly lit walkways.
  • Remember: children are not miniature adults .
    • They often act before thinking.
    • They have one-third narrower side vision.
    • They can’t judge speed.
    • They are shorter than adults and can’t see over cars and bushes.

 

Messages for Motorists

  • Drive slowly through residential streets and areas where pedestrians trick-or-treating could be expected.
  • Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.
  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians, and curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
  • At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.

Stay safe, and happy trick-or-treating!

New Jersey Gets Two More Bicycle Friendly Communities!

22 Oct

Two New Jersey towns – Hoboken and Ocean City – recently received a “Bronze” level Bicycle Friendly Community award from the League of American Bicyclists. Last year, West Windsor was the first community in New Jersey to receive such an honor.

The League of American Bicyclists is a non-profit group dedicated to promoting the rights of cyclists. The Bicycle Friendly Community Program (BFC) provides incentives, hands-on assistance, and award recognition for communities that actively support bicycling. A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes cyclists by providing safe accommodation for cycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. View an overview presentation of the program.

The League named 28 new and 19 renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities during the 2012 Fall BFC awards. Read the press release for more information.

Explore this interactive map to see current BFCs by state and to find out what these communities are doing to promote cycling. Click here for a complete list of Bicycle Friendly Communities. To see the list of communities that received Honorable Mentions in Spring/Fall 2012, click here.

Wondering if your community is bike-friendly? Fill out this questionnaire and find out.

At the state level, New Jersey has fared well with the League of American Bicyclists in recent years. Last year New Jersey ranked fifth, and this year it ranked seventh most bike-friendly state in the union – and second best in the Northeast!

In addition to states and communities, the League’s Bicycle Friendly program also evaluates colleges, businesses, and leaders. The program is a great resource for groups to measure current conditions, to get recognition for their work and to receive hands-on assistance to create even more safe and welcoming places for cycling.

To be included in the next review cycle and possibly join those communities earning the award, submit the Bicycle Friendly Community application by February 26, 2013. There are two application deadlines per year, one in February and one in July.

If you’d like help submitting an application for your bike friendly business, college, or community, email us at rhersh@gmtma.org, we’re happy to help.

GMTMA to Celebrate Local “Smart Workplaces”

19 Oct

On Friday, GMTMA will be recognizing 18 local companies as 2012 New Jersey Smart Workplaces at an awards ceremony at GMTMA’s Annual Luncheon at the Nassau Inn at 11:00 a.m.

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

The 18 Smart Workplaces receiving awards this year are helping to improve our region’s quality of life, traffic, air quality, and public health by offering their employees a wide variety of commuting options. 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
  • Offering a pre-tax transit program

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. The 2012 employers being recognized at Friday’s luncheon are:

  • Platinum:  Albridge, an affiliate of Pershing, LLC; Bank Of America; Educational Testing Services; Janssen; NJ DOT; NJM Insurance Group; Novo Nordisk Inc.; Princeton University; FHWA; Munich Re
  • Gold: A-1 Limousine; Bloomberg LP; NJ DEP; Greater Mercer TMA
  • Silver: Horizon BCBSNJ, Trenton Office; Princeton Healthcare System; Princeton Insurance;
  • Bronze: Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company

(Are you a member of the press? If so, we welcome your attendance at the awards ceremony, which will be on Friday October 19 at 11am at the Nassau Inn in the main ballroom.)

Want to Warm Up Your Car in the Morning? We Have the Secret.

17 Oct

It happened. For the first time in what seems like forever, there was ice on the windshield of my car this morning. It’s hard to believe it got cold enough last night, but it did. I had to go inside and find my ice scraper and actually scrape the ice off the windshield! If this hasn’t happened to you yet or you are one of the lucky people that park in a garage, good for you! But I bet it was still a bit chilly getting in the car for your commute this morning.

Since it is that time of year I thought I would share the best kept secret about how to warm up your car in the morning. Have any guesses?

  • A remote starter so that you can turn on your car while still staying warm inside, drinking your coffee and wearing your bunny slippers? Nope.
  • Bribe one of the kids (who is old enough) to run outside and turn the car on? Not that either.

The secret is: Scrape the ice off the windows (so you can see clearly) and DRIVE OFF! That’s it. Not difficult at all. Cars warm up much faster when they are being used. If the engine is left to idle, it will eventually get warm enough to turn on the heat and not feel cold air blowing on you; but it will get warm MUCH faster when you are driving.

Driving – not idling the vehicle – helps your toes get warm faster and decreases the shock at the gas pump. Idling a car for one hour can use about a gallon of gas. That means if you idle your car for about 15 minutes five days a week, you are wasting $4+ in gas EVERY WEEK at zero miles to the gallon.

That same gallon of gas that you idled away in a week of cold mornings also contributed 19.4 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air for your family and friends to breathe and increases asthma symptoms. Idling is bad for your pocketbook and bad for your health.

So tomorrow, and the next chilly morning after that, make sure you remember the best kept secret about how to warm up your car: Scrape the ice off the windows (so you can see clearly) and DRIVE OFF!

Will Driving Rates Keep Declining?

16 Oct

A post today over at Streetsblog points to some  interesting trends showing that the percentage of people over age 65 who still have driver’s licenses is much higher today than it was 30 years ago, but it’s the reverse at the other end of the age spectrum — today, there’s a much bigger percentage of younger people who don’t have a driver’s license. As we’ve noted before, younger generations are choosing to drive less, instead preferring transit, urban lifestyles, and using social media to participate in carpool and car share programs.

The article points to a number of trends that explain this driving behavior, including a growing preference for urban living, young people getting driver’s licenses later, and the desire to stay out of traffic and sprawl.

The preference to go car-free in cities has been on the rise since long before the recession or $4.00 gas prices. Better public transit and new car-sharing services like Zipcar help make this a viable preference. Are you interested in driving less? Greater Mercer TMA can help. Check out our information and programs that can help you find a vanpool or carpool, ride your bike more, encourage your kids to walk and bike to school, help your employer start up a telecommute policy, ride the bus or train, and get around easier if you’re a senior.