Archive | October, 2014

Greater Mercer TMA 30th Anniversary and NJ Smart Workplaces Awards

31 Oct


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.


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


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!



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


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.

Meet Our RideProvide Program Manager

10 Oct

CarolCarol Staats is the RideProvide Program Manager, some of you may know her from talking to her on the phone when trying to schedule a ride or may have even seen her around town in one of our RideProvide cars!

Q: What attracted you to this job?
Carol: My husband (laughs), so I can live with my husband. We had a long distance relationship while we were dating and our first year of marriage was long distance too. I owned a home in NE Pennsylvania where I was also working. We spent six months trying to sell the house during the housing crash.  Then I started looking for a job because I wanted to either have a job or sell the house before I moved. It took me close to six months to find the job, I did not want just any job, I wanted the right job. One day I answered an ad on, got an interview and the rest is history.

Q:Why is transportation important for you?
Carol: Transportation is important to me because people need to get out and about.

Q:What is a favorite thing about your job?
Carol: My favorite is our riders and the service we provide to them. As one of our riders said, Ride Provide “helps me stay in my house. “

Q:Tell me something about your commute.
Carol: One way bike commuting, early spring and early fall, it’s about 12 miles. I do one way for two reasons:

  • Length of my work day
  • I like my car at the office, if I need to do a ride during the day, I can use my car

In an average week I am saving almost 50 miles/ week!
My bike commute is wonderful, most people are very courteous, I’ve had a few problems but mostly it has been nice.  Bike commute and biking for pleasure are completely different. When I bike to work, other people are driving to work so I try to be as careful as possible and try to be very courteous to the drivers, it works both ways. That’s how I look at it.  You know, we’re all just trying to get to work or we’re all just trying to get home.

Q: What was the best moment of your life?
Carol: Best moment of life: I feel like I am very blessed person and I’ve had a lot of great moments, great memories; I don’t really feel like I can just choose one.

Q: Do you have a favorite transportation/commuting story?
Carol: Not necessarily about my commuting but  … I have been to Europe two years in a row and I think they are so far advanced on their means of transportation.  I believe public transportation is much to use and much more accessible in Europe.  They also have a lot of bike commuters and even parking lots for bikes.
I think that, in some instances we have things to learn from how they handle transportation in Europe.  They have a lot more bike lanes and the drivers are very much aware of the bike riders on the road and it’s not the occasional cyclist that you see here. There are a lot of bike riders on the road over there.
The cars are much smaller than the United States. I think it’s neat that there’s a lot more bike sharing too.

Q: What is your favorite commuting app/gadget?
Carol: Audio books for commute, so hooked on them. I rarely listen to the radio, for over a year I have been just listening to my audiobooks and then I don’t care if my ride home takes an extra 5 or ten minutes because I’m into the story.

Pet Peeve:
Carol: chaos and disorganization

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Hike, bike, read, kayak, I like outdoor adventures.

Q: What is your favorite food?
Carol:  Anything with pesto, pesto on pasta, pesto on grilled chicken, BLT, pizza pesto dip…anything with pesto

Thank you Carol for sharing!


She is bubbly, sharp, very funny, and she is turning 100 today!

6 Oct

cardGrace Bolge is a long time rider in GMTMA’s RideProvide program.  She’s made quite an impression on us and the Ride Provide staff wanted to make sure her birthday would not pass without at least a little bit of a fuss over her.

She generously agreed to talk to me over the phone and share some of her life’s stories.  It is hard to pick and choose what to share and I will try including as much as I can from all the things she told me. I had so much fun talking to her and I hope you will too reading about her.

I asked when did she start using Ride Provide and she said “since they were an idea”, before the door to door service even started. She thinks the service “was a wonderful idea, better than the van” because the van has a certain route and “they take you all over the township before you get where you need to.” Grace thinks fondly of the RideProvide drivers and she remembers she had promised to donate her “old junky car” to Ride Provide. She intends to keep her promise even if Ride Provide now has new cars.

It is her way to show how much she appreciates the service. Grace said: “I don’t think I could live in my house if it wasn’t for Ride Provide.  And her caregiver too: “I am very fortunate to have a wonderful caregiver, Cristina, a Polish woman that was hired through Helping Hands.” Cristina does all the shopping and cooks amazing meals for Grace. “When I sit at the table I feel like Queen Elizabeth, with the pierogi, stuffed cabbage and the soups! The soups are so good; I would take the recipe and sell it to a restaurant, it would be called Cristina soup.”

As for how she stays sharp, Grace says she does her own finances, “to the penny”, and she plays piano (she says she is not a classical pianist but can play the Star Spangled Banner).  “Every time I got a teacher’s job (she began teaching in 1932), I was asked to play the Star Spangled Banner at the assembly.” She also loves learning new languages and she taught Latin, English, and Spanish for many years.  She also learned German, Hungarian, and recently Polish.  Nowadays she is speaking with her caregiver “with a dictionary” and although she wanted to teach her caregiver English, she says “I am learning more Polish than Cristina learned English (laughter).”

Grace advises everyone to “learn a language and play an instrument”.  She does agree with the research claiming that learning a new language and playing an instrument keeps your brain sharp and she seems to be living proof that it works. She recited a La Fontaine Fable in French which she remembers from many years ago!

She also remembers all the details and dates about how she met her husband, George, in 1928 when they were in 8th grade; when they both graduated from Trenton High, and when they got married on July 4th, 1940. They were married for 66 years and she remembers George as a “good man”.

Her career took a different path after 1942 when she had her two children and only did substitute teaching for a while. When she got back from her break raising children and substitute teaching, Grace got a job as the Director of Guidance Department, a fairly new department back then. Grace says “we had no diplomas for that job; I had to go get a certificate”. She says her son is joking about it and calls her generation the “certificate generation.”

Grace worked as a counselor for the next 18 years and it turns out this job was a good match for her. She loved the individual interactions and the way she could pay individual attention to students.  It turns out they loved her too since she later received the “Outstanding Guidance Counselor of Year” award. But that was not the only outstanding job she did. After she retired, Grace took paralegal classes and she started working as a paralegal, she later won the “Paralegal of the State award”.

When I asked Grace what she thinks of the current school conditions she said that school environment has changed and the focus shifted to individualism rather than collaboration which is not necessarily good.

The other thing she finds surprising is the way the economy has changed: “I can’t believe how prices have jumped.”  (She did witness the 1929 market crash, I bet she can tell us a few things about the economy)

The world around her has changed a lot, especially the last 20-30 years. However she likes to keep informed and stay on top of things (she does have a Facebook account), she reads her newspaper (“without glasses”). She also maintains a positive attitude and when the children call to check on her she is happy to report “nothing hurts.” Positive attitude seems to help longevity. That and genetics; Grace’s mother lived to be 103.

Looks like Grace’s teaching days aren’t done yet…her lessons on staying sharp and positive as you age are ones we should all try to follow!

Happy 100th Birthday Grace!  We look forward to riding with you for many years to come!