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The New Kid on the GMTMA Block

10 Nov

David is the new mobility planning specialist at Greater Mercer TMA. David received his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University with specializations in Political Science and Urban Planning; in 2015 he received his Masters of urban and regional planning from Hunter College in NYC.

 

We asked David a few questions to get to know him better and here is what he had to say:

What is your job at GMTMA?

My job is to help senior citizens, people with disabilities, or people with low incomes learn about and access secure and effective transportation.

What attracted you to this job?

We live in a very car-centric society; we’ve designed our roads and housing developments to be accessed by car. But, what happens when for whatever reason a person doesn’t have or can’t get that access? I want to make sure that those people also have effective options and are not stranded or isolated.

Why is transportation important for you?

Getting from place to place is something everyone has to do; whether we recognize it or not transportation affects everyone’s lives in one way or another. Helping someone learn how to get around may be helping them reconnect with a part of their life they’ve been missing and that’s a powerful thing.

What is a favorite thing about your job?

I like the number crunching route analysis but my favorite part is working with the people who use these services every day.

Something about your commute (walking, biking or using public transportation) or your hobbies:

New Jersey and Mercer County have a lot of natural beauty to offer. One of my biggest pieces of advice to anyone is simply to get out and explore; go by bus, car, foot, bike, or boat but get out there and reconnect with your communities. The more you do it the easier it’ll become.

What motivates you to want to change the way people commute? 

I am motivated by issues of equity, and equality of opportunity. It is our duty to make sure that people’s opportunities are not limited by who they are or where they happen to live.

Where do you stand on the climate change debate? Do you believe climate change is real? 

Climate change is real; scientists agree the climate is changing. Human activity is the main suspect. What are we going to do about?

What is your favorite movie? 

I’m a transportation nerd and an action movie fan so combine those two and you get movies like Speed with Keanu Reeves and Mad Max Fury Road.

Do you have a bumper sticker on your car? Is it anything related to the environment? Transportation?

“If we don’t change where we’re headed, we’ll get where we’re going.”

Favorite transportation/commuting story:

People should use NJTransit’s MYBus feature, it’ll tell you exactly when your bus arrives at your stop. Once I was connecting to a bus at a train station, it was a rainy day and my train was seriously delayed. I thought I was going to miss the last bus connection. We pull into the train station 30 minutes late and 5 minutes after the last bus was supposed to get there. I run down to the bus stop and immediately pull out my phone to see that my bus is also late. It was a huge relief and I knew right away that the bus was going to be there in a couple of minutes. Had I not known that the bus was running late I might have assumed that I missed the last bus and maybe left the bus station early. In this case MYBus saved MYBut.

Favorite commuting app/gadget

The new GPS tracking units now equipping every bus in NJ Transit’s fleet is a real game changer. You don’t have to wonder when the bus will get there and can now know for certain that the bus is coming and when. It takes a lot of stress out of using the NJ buses.

What else would you like to do if you were not working in transportation?

I want to spread the Trenton Tomato Pie concept to the rest of the US.

Pet Peeve: 

My pet peeve is a tendency that exists in a lot of people to jump to conclusions and make broad generalizations or assumptions.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to spend time with my new puppy and go on walks exploring Mercer County.

Favorite foods: 

Did I already say TOMATO PIE?

Thank you David and welcome to GMTMA!

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Greater Mercer TMA Awards Businesses, Schools and Municipalities for Leadership in Sustainability and Safety and Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh at the Annual Meeting and Luncheon

30 Oct

Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA), the Regional Transportation Management Association for Mercer and Ocean counties held its Annual Meeting and Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Princeton, on Friday, Oct 27, 2017. During the event, GMTMA recognized 23 businesses with the 2017 New Jersey Smart Workplaces Award and Municipalities and Schools with the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Recognition Award.

Guest speaker at the event was Gary Toth, the director of transportation at the Project for Public Spaces. He has 45 years experience in transportation engineering and planning, 34 of them with the New Jersey Department of Transportation.  Toth talked about placemaking and transportation’s role in supporting people and place in our communities. To learn more about placemaking, go to https://www.pps.org/about/

Also speaking at the event, GMTMA Executive Director Cheryl Kastrenakes highlighted GMTMA’s work over the last year.

Kastrenakes and Board President Jack Kanarek then recognized West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh for his dedicated service and the following Schools and Municipalities for their efforts to implement SRTS programs with the Safe Routes to School Recognition:

Golden Sneaker Award:  Bay Head Elementary, East Windsor Township, Johnson Park Elementary, Riverside Elementary

Silver Sneaker Award: Hopewell Elementary

Bronze Sneaker Award: Maurice Hawk Elementary, Ocean Road Elementary

GMTMA awarded employers who demonstrated leadership by providing and promoting quality commuter benefits to their employees, therefore reducing congestion and improving air quality with the prestigious New Jersey Smart Workplaces Awards. “It’s is impressive that so many of our awardees, even those already at the Platinum level continue to add more options for their employees,” said Kastrenakes.

The 2017 awardees are:

Platinum Level: A-1 Limousine Inc., Albridge an affiliate of Pershing LLC, BNY Mellon, Amazon, Bank of America, Bloomberg L.P., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Educational testing Service, Horizon NJ Health, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst, Munich Re America, Inc., Municipality of Princeton NJ Department of Transportation, NRG, Princeton University, SRI International, The College of New Jersey.

Gold Level:  University Medical center of Princeton at Plainsboro, REI Princeton

Silver Level:  Greater Mercer TMA, Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Whole Earth Center

Bronze Level: Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals

Exhibitors at the event included Enterprise Rideshare, Zagster Bikeshare, DVRPC, NJTPA, AAA MidAtlantic,  and NJTIP@Rutgers, and Greater Mercer TMA.

Thank you to all the attendees and congratulations to the awardees.

 

 

Where Can You Find EV Chargers In NJ ?

8 Sep

In a post from November of last year, we talked about the NJ electric vehicles incentives and how the state is working to increase the number of chargers available to reduce “range anxiety.”

As a reminder, there is a $7,500 federal tax credit for drivers of All-electric or Hybrid Plug-in vehicles. For companies in NJ wishing to upgrade their facilities, there is over $725,000 in grants in the “It Pay$ to Plug-In” program.

As for availability of chargers, here is some of the info we have found:

Earth911.com compiled a list of websites and apps that can help you find an EV charger and some of these apps and websites even specify the level of charging available.  Here are the links to these apps and websites: Plugshare and Open Charge Map

We also found and tested Chargehub.com (caption below), which gives you the option to locate chargers by zip code, details on whether the chargers are public, whether they are fast charging, and what are the costs.

Caption: chargehub.com

And if you are out of charge and nowhere near a charger, AAA can provide Level 2 and Level 3 roadside charging assistance. You can also ask your insurance company if they offer roadside charging assistance.

There are three types of electric vehicle charging equipment:

Level 1 charging takes 8 to 12 hours to charge a depleted battery completely and provides charging through a 120 V, AC plug. This charger is usually found in owner’s home and requires a connector.

Level 2 charging takes 4-6 hours to completely charge and provides charging through a 240 V, AC plug. Compatible with all electric and hybrid vehicles, it has a cord that plugs directly into the vehicle. You are likely to find one in public parking areas and commercial settings.

Level 3 charging provides an 80% charge in 30 minutes, and it is not compatible with all vehicles.

Level 3 Tesla Supercharger only works for Tesla Model S and provides half a charge in 20 minutes.

For more details, go to evtown.org.

Let us know if you have any questions about Electric vehicles, chargers, or if you want to share your experience with one.

 

Sources:

http://earth911.com/eco-tech/transportation/3-must-have-apps-for-locating-electric-vehicle-charging-stations/

https://chargehub.com/en/charging-stations-map.html

https://chargehub.com/en/

https://www.chargepoint.com/products/station-incentives/

http://www.evtown.org/about-ev-town/ev-charging/charging-levels.html

Committing to Reduce Emissions

9 Jun

A recent Smart Growth America article highlights the ways in which cities can commit to reducing emissions and steps mayors can take to achieve the Climate Actions Agenda goals.

Some of the steps highlighted in the article are investing in electric cars and clean energy and building walkable neighborhoods which are served by transit.  Compact, walkable neighborhoods are efficient because they reduce the need to use a car and reduce water and energy use.  And as Smart Growth America mentions, compact, walkable neighborhoods are in demand, which is good news for people worried about climate.

Other steps mayors can take:

  • Make walking and biking safer by adopting a Complete Streets approach
  • Make public transit a priority
  • Adopt policies that make it easier  to locate homes and businesses near transit
  • Allow mixed-use development
  • Rethink street networks so that they connect and not end in a cul-de-sac

In Mercer County, Princeton’s Mayor Liz Lempert signed the Climate Mayors open letter to adopt and uphold the climate goals. Some of the highlights are:

  • Adding a new electric vehicle charging station on the first level of the Spring Street Garage
  • Adding a new temporary parklet in front of jaZams along Palm Square which will serve as a playful environment to educate people about renewable energy sources
  • Committing to reducing the municipal environmental footprint by producing less waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • And a new solar project over the former River Road landfill.

So far, over 270 mayors have committed to uphold the climate goals. And all of us can also commit to taking small steps to support them and the Climate Action Agenda by changing the way we drive and how we drive, use less energy, take public transit, and being more aware of our environmental footprint.

 

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.

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.

Street Smart Campaign Launch

28 Sep

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and the Princeton Police Department are holding a news conference with the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA) Thursday, September 29 to kick off its participation in Street Smart New Jersey, a pedestrian safety initiative focusing on outreach and education designed to change unsafe behavior by pedestrians and drivers on our streets.

zerogrpah

The event is being held at Hinds Plaza at the intersection of Witherspoon and Hullfish Streets during the Princeton Farmers Market at 12:30pm.

Speakers will include Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, Princeton Police Chief Nicholas Sutter, and GMTMA Executive Director Cheryl Kastrenakes.

The Street Smart Campaign is launching in early October to coincide with the start of local schools and the return of Princeton University students for the fall semester.  The campaign focuses on compliance of traffic and pedestrian safety laws.  The Princeton Police Department is partnering with GMTMA, a non-profit transportation organization serving Mercer County.

“We want everyone to be safe whether they’re walking to school, to work, to the store, or out for some exercise,” said Mayor Lempert. “Princeton has lots of pedestrians because we’re a great, walkable community, and that’s why this safety campaign is so important. It’s an opportunity to remind both pedestrians and drivers of the rules that are designed to keep everyone safe.”

Street Smart is a collaborative effort between the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), Federal Highway Administration, New Jersey Department of Transportation and New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.  GMTMA is working with NJTPA to coordinate Street Smart campaign in communities in Mercer and Ocean Counties.

Street Smart aims to change pedestrian and motorist behavior to reduce pedestrian-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities.  The campaign uses the slogan “check your vital signs” to remind motorists and pedestrians of safe travel roles and responsibilities.  Vital signs are displayed on tip cards, posters, and temporary street signs throughout the community as a visual reminder for drivers and pedestrians.

In the state of New Jersey, from 2010-2014, 750 pedestrians were killed and 17,000 were injured.  Between 2013 and 2015, there were 55 pedestrian-related crashes in Princeton.  Of those accidents 52 pedestrians were injured and there was one fatality.

For more information on GMTMA and the Street Smart campaign in other municipalities, go to gmtma.org/street-smart.