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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.

 

 

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Time to Nominate an NJ Smart Workplace

4 Aug

Attention NJ Businesses Offering Commuter Benefits to Employees – You May Be Eligible for NJ Smart Workplaces Awards

 Applications are now being accepted for the 2017  New Jersey Smart Workplaces (NJSW) awards. NJSW recognizes and honors employers who help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by providing commuter benefits to employees. Employers of all sizes are eligible to apply. Applying is easy and chances are that employers already provide some of the things that qualify them for this designation. Employers are recognized at one of four levels of achievement: bronze, silver, gold or platinum based upon the programs offered at the worksite.

There are no costs associated with this prestigious designation and all awardees will be featured on our website and recognized at Greater Mercer TMA’s Annual Luncheon in October.

These are some of the things we are looking for:

Bronze Level

  • Establish and maintain a relationship with a local Transportation Management Association (TMA).
  • Designate an on-site point of contact for employee commute inquiries.
  • Place alternative commute information in new-hire packets. (Contact us at tma@gmtma.org to receive alternative commute information)
  • Encourage employees to register for TMA traffic alerts or 511NJ.org or disseminate traffic alerts to your employees.
  • Provide access to a site-specific commuter information display.
  • Regularly promote commute options and TMA incentives through regular memos, postings, e-mail, Intranet or other employee communications.
  • Encourage employees to register their alternate commute with a local TMA.

Silver Level

  • Host or sponsor TMA events/programs such as National Bike to Work Month, National Walk Month, Car Free Week, or Distracted Driving Awareness Week at the worksite.
  • Provide financial or staff assistance for TMA-sponsored community events.
  • Host two or more on-site vanpool/carpool formation meetings.
  • Provide a designated outdoor bicycle parking area or an appropriate indoor area.
  • Provide employees access to basic bike maintenance tools.
  • Provide preferential parking for vanpoolers or carpoolers.
  • Offer a formal flextime program.
  • Offer a formal telecommuting program.
  • Offer a formal compressed workweek policy.
  • Provide pretax payroll deductions for commuting cost for employees (vanpool, transit and/or bicycle commuters).
  • Provide Emergency Ride Home for employees who have exceeded the maximum number of TMA-provided rides.
  • Provide on-site amenities such as food service, dry cleaner, ATM/bank, sundries or showers.
  • Implement a teleconference policy.

Gold Level

Achieve FIVE Bronze Level activities and five Silver Level activities.

Platinum Level

Achieve Gold  level and implement a comprehensive site-specific alternative commute program such as:

  • Telework or compressed work week program that reduces commute trips by 3%.
  • A monthly employer subsidy toward transit passes.
  • A monthly employer subsidy/benefit for employees who carpool or vanpool.
  • Partnering with local gyms, Ys, or other groups to provide off-site showers.
  • Supplement parking by partnering with local organizations to create private park and rides.
  • Provide fleet of bicycles for employee use or rental.
  • Provide an employer-subsidized shuttle.
  • Provide electric vehicles for employee business use.
  • Provide electric vehicles and charging stations for employee use.
  • Contact your TMA for more suggestions.

The program is a partnership of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Association and the state’s Transportation Management Associations (TMAs). Greater Mercer TMA is the program’s coordinator in Mercer and Ocean counties.

Go to www.gmtma.org  to register online. If you are not sure you qualify or you have questions about the program, please contact us at tma@gmtma.org.

Bike to Work Week Promotion Winners

16 Jun

It is finally time to announce the bike to work week winners, but first let’s see how the promotion went this year.  112 people took part in the GMTMA Bike to Work Week promotion this year. Participants committed to biking to work either individually or as a part of an employer team. Together we biked more than 1,500 miles and replaced 230 car trips with cleaner, healthier bike trips. And based on the comments, everyone seems to have enjoyed it. We will share those comments with you throughout the week on social media, so be sure to check our social media channels Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Employer Team Challenge included teams from Axens NA, Albridge, Bristol Myers Squibb, Isles INC., GMTMA, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Princeton University, Solvay, REI Princeton, KSS Architects, and Maser Consulting. Participants also had the option to participate in a photo contest.

And the winners are:

The photo contest winner is Stacey C. with the photo bellow titled 25 years of biking together”

The Bike to Work Week promotion winners are:

  • Anthony I. – $30 Kopps Cycle gift card
  • David R. – $30 Kopps Cycle gift card
  • Melinda P. – $30 Kopps Cycle gift card
  • Philip C. – $30 Kopps Cycle gift card
  • Michael L. – REI Flash 22 Pack
  • Peter G. – REI Flash 22 Pack
  • Sharon H. – REI Flash 22 Pack
  • Michael M. – Fly 6 camera and light
  • Emma I. – $25 Whole Earth Center gift card
  • Jim S. – $25 Whole Earth Center gift card
  • Ken M. – $50 Sourland Cycles gift card
  • Sean V. – 4 Trenton Thunder tickets

The Employer’s Team Challenge winner is again an REI Princeton team who logged the most miles and most trips.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who took part in the Bike to Work Week promotion this year!

And many thanks to the Bike to Work week sponsors: Kopp’s Cycle, REI Princeton, Greater Mercer TMA, St. Lawrence Rehab Center, Sourland Cycles, and Whole Earth Center  for providing this year’s prizes.

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

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

7 Jan

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 $771 per month.  Gas prices may be down, but 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 2016 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.

Step it Up

11 Sep

The US Surgeon General issued a Call to Action this week, asking Americans to #StepitUp and  start walking more.

This Call to Action is needed and is well timed to coincide with Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and Healthy Aging Month …and coincidentally with the launch of GMTMA’s walk to school smarthphone app.

CTA_Infographic_community_walkability_FINAL

According to the Surgeon General, “one out of every two U.S. adults is living with a chronic disease, such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.” Healthfinder.gov states that one in three children in the U.S is overweight or obese and at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  All of these health issues can be prevented with regular activity, but many adults and many children do not meet the guidelines for daily physical activity.

The most popular form of physical activity is walking and it can be done with a purpose, such as getting to work, to the train station, running errands, or walking to school.

Walking has many benefits for your health and your community.   More walkers improve safety in your neighborhood, slow down traffic, reduce pollution, and encourage social interaction.  Walkable communities are making it easier for older adults to age in place, and for young children to walk to school.

So what can be done to improve walkability in your community?  And how can GMTMA help?

  1. Make it easier for students to walk to from school, and one of the report’s recommendations is to “Implement Safe Routes to School or similar walk-to-school programs.”

GMTMA’s  Safe Routes to School coordinators can implement walk-to-school programs, and we have recently launched a free app to help busy parents set up walking groups to school.  We can also do walkability audits, school travel plans and assist with infrastructure grants. Just call us, we are happy to help.

  1. The report also recommends implementing work programs and policies that promote walking. Employers around Mercer and Ocean counties, your TMA can help with that, just call us. Employers that work with us and implement programs and policies to promote walking, biking, carpooling, and reducing congestion and pollution, get recognition with the New Jersey Smart Workplaces award. Check out our current awardees.

These are just a couple of the recommendations found in the Surgeon General’s Call to Action, which is available here.

Bottom line, we have to start doing something about our health and the health of our communities and walking is a good start. Start walking,  get to know the people in your community, start the conversation, talk about changes that can be made to improve walkability, and who knows, next step could be walking or biking to work.

And as usual if you have any questions or comments, or you want to be a guest blogger, please contact us.

What Is It and Who Qualifies For an NJ Smart Workplace Award?

30 Jul

NJ-Smart-Workplaces

New Jersey Smart Workplaces (NJSW) recognizes and honors employers who help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by providing commuter benefits to employees. Employers of all sizes are eligible to apply. Employers are recognized at one of four levels of achievement: bronze, silver, gold or platinum based upon the programs offered at the worksite. The program is a partnership of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Association and the state’s Transportation Management Associations (TMAs). Greater Mercer TMA is the program’s coordinator in Mercer and Ocean counties.

Applying is easy and chances are you already provide some of the things that qualify you for this designation. Take our short quiz and if you answer YES to any of the following questions, you might be eligible for the New Jersey Smart Workplaces award.

Do you go the extra mile to help your employees get to work?

Offer an informal flextime program?

Offer an informal telecommuting program?

Maintain a relationship with your local TMA?

Promote carpooling, vanpooling, and public transit?

Provide bike parking?

Have an on­site point of contact for employee commute inquiries?

Hold a commuter information event at your worksite?

Go to http://www.gmtma.org and find out for what level you qualify. There are no costs associated with this prestigious designation and all awardees will be featured on our website.

If you are not sure you qualify or you have questions about the program, please contact us at tma@gmtma.org. All NJSW awardees will be recognized at Greater Mercer TMA’s Annual Luncheon in October. See our list of 2014 Awardees.