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Transit as a Habit

17 Mar

In a recent blog post on planetizen.com, two researchers, Michael Smart and Nicholas Klein discussed the  findings of their  study to determine what shapes our travel behavior.  The authors of the study found that “habits and preferences for transit may be formed at an early age” and “the quality of transit experienced earlier in life can be just as important as the quality of transit in the current neighborhood.”

Smart and Klein also say that being exposed to high-quality transit during our 20s and 30s increases the chance of using transit later in life and the habit of using transit is maintained even when moving to a location with low transit choices. And as someone who likes public transit and used it a lot in my early life, I can attest to that. However, when it comes to NJ public transit, we could all use a little guidance.  For some reason, buses especially seem to be a little intimidating to some people. How do you pay? How do I know how much to pay? Can I pay the driver?

To make this a little easier, try to take a trip one day on the bus or train when you are not in a rush to get somewhere.  And why not make it a family trip, take your kids with you and help them form that habit earlier in life. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • NJ Transit makes it easy to purchase tickets, see schedules, and plan your trip with the help of their NJ Transit Mobile app. You can download the app from the AppStore or on Google Play.
  • If you do not use the NJ Transit app, you can find schedules and fare at http://www.njtransit.com/sf/sf_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=BusTo or you can ask us to send you a hard copy. We usually try to supply enough schedules at the local libraries and municipalities as well.
  • Local bus route tickets cannot be purchased with the app so you will need to have exact change when you get on the bus. Fares are based on zone. You can find the zone by looking at the map printed on the schedule.
  • When the bus arrives at the station, raise your hand to signal the driver you want to get on.
  • When you want to get off the bus, press the signal strip located near the window to let the driver know you want to exit at the next stop.
  • If you are planning a train trip and you do not have the app to purchase tickets or find a schedule, schedules can be found at the train station and tickets can be purchased at the ticket vending machines located near the station. The ticket vending machines accept all types of payments and fares are based on the location you wish to travel.
  • You can take your bike to transit and on the NJ transit buses and trains. There is no extra charge, but there a few restrictions for bicycles on NJ Transit train. More Bike& Ride info is available here.

Check out our mobility guide for more details on planning your bus or train trip.  You can also find bus and rail schedules and the mobility guide Spanish version on our website.

We hope you give transit a try and enjoy the ride! Let us know how it went.

Sources:

http://www.njtransit.com/rg/rg_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=BikeProgramTo

https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/09/transit-lifelong-habit-study/

 

Women’s History Month – Transportation

10 Mar

Since this month is Women’s History Month, we would like to take this opportunity to mention some of the female pioneers in transportation and the contribution women make in this industry nowadays.

Transportation and mobility has been traditionally a man’s interest and men have been predominantly occupying the majority of both low skills as well as high skilled transportation jobs.

Looking at the history of women in transportation and mobility industry, we see that things have changed and women are now encouraged to build careers in transportation and mobility. The Department of Transportation published an article with detailed information on all the women that made their mark in different areas of transportation. We have selected just a few to feature in this post but encourage you to read the whole article.

From this article we found that the first woman to receive a driving license in the 1900’s was Anne Bush. The first woman to ever compete in a car race was Janet Guthrie who in 1976 participated in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR.

In 1922 another woman, Helen Schultz, becomes a pioneer of the bus transportation industry by establishing the Red Ball Transportation Company.  Another pioneer, this time in aviation, Amelia Earhart, is well known for her daring attempt to fly around the globe which unfortunately ended tragically.

The first African American commercial pilot, Willa Brown, also became the first female officer in the Civil Air Patrol.

But women did not stop at flying planes, they went beyond, they went to space.  The first American woman to go to space was Sally Ride; the first American woman to walk in space was Kathryn Sullivan.

Many women also had jobs in transportation administration and engineering, starting with Beverly Cover in 1962, Judith A. Carlson who worked as highway engineer, Karen M. Porter a civil engineer, to Elizabeth Dole as a secretary of DOT in 1983 and Carmen Turner Acting Director of Civil rights at the DOT.

These days, women are holding various positions in transportation and mobility, from bus drivers to planners to our current United States Secretary of Transportation. Agencies like WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar)  are dedicated to the advancement of women’s careers in transportation through connecting women in Transportation, networking, and an annual conference.

While many women have careers in transportation and mobility, the industry is still male dominated.

Working for governmental agencies, private businesses, schools, universities or non-profits, careers in the transportation and mobility industry can be interesting and rewarding.

We hope this will inspire more women to choose a career in transportation. To learn more about opportunities go to http://www.dot.gov/policy-initiatives/women-and-girls/resources

 

This is an updated version of a post initially published on the GMTMA blog on March 27, 2015.

5 Ways Employers Can Make Commuting Less Stressful for Their Employees

24 Feb

New Jersey commuters know congestion too well. NJ has five of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the nation and that costs commuters millions of dollars and lots of stress.  And long, stressful commutes can translate into the loss of productivity and unhappy employees.

So if you are looking for ways to make life easier for employees, here are 5 things you can do and we at GMTMA can help you get started:

  1. Encourage ridesharing

A carpool is a group of two or more employees driving to work together. Let your employees know about carpooling and encourage them to carpool at least once a week.  GMTMA has a free carpool matching service, can help you determine the potential for carpooling, and we can help you talk to your employees about it.

  1. Free van to transit

Many employees would like to take transit but face the “last mile” problem; they have no way to get to the office from transit. The solution to that is an employer-sponsored van that can run in the morning bringing employees to the office and in the afternoon bringing employees to transit.  To make it more affordable see if you can partner with other businesses near you. We can help with that too.

  1. Encourage bicycling

If a free van to transit is not feasible, encourage employees to bicycle from transit to the office. Employees are more likely to bike to work when they have access to showers, bicycle racks, and bike repair tool stations. The IRS permits employers to reimburse up to $20/month for reasonable expenses related to commuting by bicycles.

  1. Incentivize employees not to drive

Offer a financial reward to employees who do no drive. Offer transit, vanpool and bicycle commuting tax benefits.

  1. Help employees form a vanpool

Vanpools consist of 7-15 people, and the van can be leased by a third party vendor.  NJ Transit offers a Vanpool Sponsorship Program of $175 per month to form vanpool where public transportation is not available.  GMTMA can help you with setting up a vanpool.

Your local Transportation Management Association can help you get started. TMAs offer programs and services to help employers reduce costs and congestion.  Here is a sample of what TMAs can do for your business: http://www.gmtma.org/pg-employers-programs-and-services.php

Calling All Artists Grades 3 – 5!

17 Feb

Greater Mercer TMA’s (GMTMA) fourth annual Safe Routes to School Bookmark Design contest is now underway.  Mercer County and Ocean County students in third through fifth grade are eligible to show their love of walking by creating a bookmark with the theme “I like to walk to … with….”


bookmark

Exercise your feet and your brain! Draw a bookmark of who you like to walk with and where you like to go. The winning bookmark designs will be printed and distributed to area schools and local libraries.  Each winner will also receive a $50 gift card.  For more information about the contest and the Safe Routes to School Program, go to gmtma.org.

Submission deadline is March 24, 2017! Bookmark entry forms are available at gmtma.org

Happy Birthday Bicycles Everywhere

10 Feb

How many of you remember your first bike? I fondly remember my first bike in spite of the scars I have to remind me of it! My first bike was a bright red children’s Pegasus with a silver Pegasus sticker on the frame.

When I was a kid I often wondered who made the first bike, but never really pursued the question because I was too busy riding my bike, acrobatic moves and all, and scraping my knees.

It turns out this year is a great time to learn more since the bicycle turns 200.  Information on who invented the first bike tend to contradict each other, and while some records date back to 1418, the bike as we know it today seems to be modeled after the 1817 machine made by Karl Drais. It was called the “dandy horse”, “velocipede”, or “the running machine.” It’s purpose—a replacement for the horse after a crop failure led to the starvation and slaughtering of horses. It was made of wood, front wheel steer, and it was propelled by pushing it off with the feet.  This first model was short-lived though and it would be another 50 years until the bicycle would get another chance.

bike1

Photocredit: Wikimedia Commons

 

A brief history of the evolution of the bicycle

  • In 1863 there was the “bone shaker” because it was made of hard materials with steel wheels and rode on cobblestone roads.
  • 1870 the “high wheelers” looked more like a circus bicycle and weren’t very safe, it’s no wonder they were not that popular either.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photocredit: Wikimedia Commons

  • 1878 first American bicycle, the Columbia Bicycle made by the Weed Sewing Machine Company and it was quite expensive, almost ten times more than a sewing machine.
  • 1880 women could also take a spin on a new model called the tricycle. Many men also adopted this machine because it was more practical than the two, high wheels model.
  • 1888 John B. Dunlop first used a pneumatic tire for the bicycle and made it more comfortable and safer to ride.
  • 1890 advances in metallurgy lead to the “safety bike”, a model that looked a lot like what we know nowadays, much safer and more popular. During this time, the bicycle also become more accessible to a larger number of people and many of them started using it as a means of transportation as opposed to an expensive leisure machine up to this point.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

  • 1890 was also the time when more women started riding bicycles.
  • 1894 a change in ladies fashion allowed them more freedom and increased mobility. This is also the year when bamboo bikes were manufactured.
  • 1894-1895, Annie Kopchovsky, finished a multi-modal trip around the world. She would ride her bicycle to and from the main ports.
  • 1895, Ogden Bolton Jr. patented the first e-bike.
  • 1903 Sturmey Archer invented the internal hub gears.
  • 1920 after WWI, kid’s bikes were introduced to revitalize the bike industry at a time when the automobile was gaining more and more popularity.
  • 1958 the first World Championship on road and track included women.
  • 1965 Bike-share begins in Europe.
  • 1970 on Earth Day, the bicycle sees a comeback in light of increased awareness of air pollution.
  • 1973 the Oil embargo creates even more interest in bicycling.
  • 1978 high oil prices lead to more sales of bicycles than automobiles.
  • 1980’s we see an interest in health and fitness and the bicycle is embraced for both recreational purposes and commuting. Interestingly the middle and the upper classes lead the way in this trend.
  • 1986 bicycling was the third most popular sport.
  • 1990 Shimano introduced the integrated brake levers.
  • 2002 was the year when Campagnolo introduced the 10 cog rear cluster which allowed for 30 speed bicycles.
  • 2016, the U.S. had 2,655 bike share stations in 65 cities.

I can’t wait to see where the bicycle will go next! Hopefully it will have Complete Streets everywhere so it can go anywhere it wishes.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of events. If you want to learn more check out the following sources:

https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/press_releases/bts020_16

http://www.ibike.org/library/history-timeline.htm

http://www.icebike.org/58-milestones-from-bicycle-history-you-must-know/

Active Transportation and the Health of Our Communities

20 Jan

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) released a new report, The Case for Healthy Places, in December 2016 in which they highlight key areas that support healthy placemaking.  According to PPS one’s zip code is a better predictor of health than genetic code. Where we live and where we work matters and we can see that from research highlighting health disparities among low-income communities and high-income communities.

buildings-1853891_1920

We already know that Americans have some of the highest rates of diabetes, heart disease, asthma and certain cancer types.  Americans also suffer from poor mental health and all of these conditions are linked to insufficient physical activity among other factors. Insufficient physical activity is directly related to the way our communities are designed.   PPS states issues such as sprawl, unwalkable communities, poor air quality, unsafe street design for walking and biking, all have a negative impact on our physical and mental health.

One of the key areas named in the PPS report is Walking and Biking. According to research cited by PPS, placemaking supports more walkable and bikeable communities which leads to improved safety  and accessibility of streets,  a sense of community, increased physical activity, support of local economies, and reduced air pollution. And we now have enough evidence that physical activity helps reduce the risk of chronic disease.

street-351548_1920

So what would encourage more physical activity? According to the American Planning Association cited by PPS report, there are nine features that encourage active transportation:

  • Sidewalks
  • Bike lanes and racks
  • Traffic calming measures
  • Crosswalks and signals
  • Aesthetics and placemaking efforts, such as public art and fountains
  • Public space including parks and plazas
  • Street trees
  • Green infrastructures, including greenways and rain gardens
  • Street furniture, including benches, bus shelters, and signage

The report shows that active transportation is not only good for our health but also for the health of our local economies. And studies show that physically active kids have better concentration, mood, self-image, self-confidence, and fewer chronic health problems.

What do you think about the walking and biking conditions in your community?  What do you like? What would you like to change?

Let us know; you can comment on our social media or write a guest blog.

You can find the full report here and the report release article here.

Using Your Commute to Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions!

13 Jan

new-yearresolutions

Resolution #1    Lose weight, get in shape, exercise more (you get the idea) 
If too many holiday parties and goodies have you making this resolution then look no further than your driveway…and leave your car parked!  Try walking or biking to work or to the bus or train.  If that’s not possible you can still swap some of your car trips to run errands with biking or walking.  Did you know that on average people who commute using active transportation and by transit have less body fat than those who drive?

Resolution #2    Spend less, save more, stick to the budget, etc. 
You will see immediate savings if you switch from driving alone to walking, biking, carpooling, vanpooling or using transit.    According to the American Public Transportation Association’s Transit Savings Report, on average a person commuting by transit rather than driving will save $803 per month.  Gas prices are creeping up, and carpooling and sharing the ride with just one person cuts your cost by 50%! Feeling bold and want to save even more?  You can go car free and use a service like Zipcar for the times you must have a car.

Resolution #3    Enjoy life to the fullest, have more fun!
Add a dose of happiness to your day by biking or walking to work!  According to a study  from Portland State University, commuters who bike to work enjoyed their commutes the most, followed closely by those who walk.  Least satisfied…folks that drove alone.

Resolution #4    Learn something new
When you let someone else do the driving you’ll have lots more time for reading (or writing) the great American novel.  Plenty of extra time to do research on the internet too!

Resolution #5    Spend more time with family and friends
Nothing can shorten your commute time like telecommuting!  If it’s an option for you—even just one day a week, you can add a little extra time to the day to spend with your family.  Or take advantage of your company’s flex time and commute during less congested hours to cut down on your commute time.

Make 2017 a year of smart commute choices!  Let your commute help you keep your New Year’s resolutions!  GMTMA can help you reach your goals.  Visit us at gmtma.org for more information.