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Winter Preparation and Safety Tips

12 Dec

Winter is here with cold days and more snow in the forecast. Whether you are dashing through the snow on four wheels, on two wheels, here some tips to keep you safe this winter.

Driving Tips

  1. Get your car serviced – get a routine maintenance and check for leaks, and parts that need repairs or replacements
  2. Check for recalls – nhtsa.gov/recalls , if your vehicle is under recall, go to the nearest dealer and get it fixed for free.
  3. Know your car – features to know available here
  4. Wipers and defrosters – check your wipers and replace worn blades, check if the defrosters work properly
  5. Tires – some manufacturers recommend replacing the tires every 6 years. Check to see if they have uneven wear or insufficient thread. Learn how to measure thread
  6. Stock your car with shovel, broom, ice scarpers, jumper cables, flashlights, blankets, and emergency markers.
  7. Stay alert and don’t drive distracted or under the influence

Biking Tips

  1. Layer up but do not overdress – look for clothing that is designed to keep you warm without being too bulky and make you sweat. Many stores sell active wear clothes that are both fashionable and functional. Cover your head, your extremities and your ears, and wear clear glasses to protect your eyes.
  2. Wear something bright and equip your bike with good lights (flashing lights have a great battery life but the high powered ones can blind the motorists behind you), it will keep you safe during low visibility conditions.
  3. Equip your bike with wide tires (studded winter tires are best for icy conditions) and shoes with threaded sole so you won’t slip when you break or stop at a light and you have to put your foot down.
  4. If possible, pick streets that will minimize your contact with cars.
  5. Think safety first! – Use your judgment in snowy, slippery and/or low visibility conditions, actively manage risk through strategies to avoid travel, minimize contact with other traffic and/or make yourself as visible as possible through proper lane positioning

Stay safe!

 

Sources: https://www.nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-tips

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Gobble, Gobble, this Thanksgiving Don’t Get in Travel Trouble

17 Nov

The AAA report is out and it looks like a record number of people will be travelling this Thanksgiving weekend, 50.9 million to be more exact. With so many people on the roads we wanted to share a few driving safety tips and other helpful information regarding public transit and area airports.

If you plan to drive this Thanksgiving weekend here are some safety tips:

  • Get plenty of rest before you start your trip
  • Make sure that everyone is buckled up
  • Keep your focus on the road, and don’t drive distracted
  • Expect traffic and be patient
  • Make sure your car is ready, tires inflated, windshield wipers work, have a tune-up before you plan to travel
  • Check the weatherroad and traffic conditions
  • Keep a first aid kit in your car
  • Carry an emergency kit in case of inclement weather, flashlight, bottled water, blankets, food, flares, snow shovel, jumper cables, ice scraper

If you are planning to travel by train or bus, these are the Thanksgiving schedules:

Northeast Corridor Rail will be operating on Weekend/Holidays Schedule. Rail Schedule available here.

Mercer County Bus Service

The following buses will operate on a Sunday Schedule: 600, 601, 605, 606, 607, 608, 609, and 613.

There will be no service on 611, 612 will operate on weekday schedule, 619 on Saturday schedule, and 624 on Holiday schedule.

NJ Transit bus schedules are available here.

NJ Transit early getaway service information available here.

FreeB Commuter and FreeB Neighborhood will not operate on Thanksgiving Day

Ocean Ride

Will not operate on Thursday, November 23 Thanksgiving Day

Riverline will operate on a Sunday Schedule.

SEPTA

Thanksgiving Day – Thanksgiving Parade

Buses, Trains, and Trolleys will operate on a Sunday schedule due to the holiday

Black Friday

City Transit Routes will operate on a Modified Weekday schedule Friday, November 24
Black Friday

SEPTA schedules available here.

PATH

Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 23, 2017

Saturday Schedule

Journal Square-33 Street (via Hoboken) and Newark-World Trade Center lines in service.

Day after Thanksgiving – Friday, November 24, 2017

Modified Weekday Schedule*

All 4 lines operate on a 10-minute schedule during daytime and early evening hours.

PATH schedules available here. 

Amtrak

Special Northeast Thanksgiving schedules available here.

Airport Information

Newark Liberty Airport or on Twitter @NY_NJAirports

Philadelphia International Airport  or on Twitter @PHLAirport

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Source: http://newsroom.aaa.com/2017/11/nearly-51-million-americans-travel-thanksgiving-highest-volume-dozen-years/

 

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!

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.

 

 

10 Fun Facts about Walking

13 Oct

Fall is here, the weather is nice and it is really pleasant to take a walk outside. Besides, the leaves are starting to change color which makes for a great view. Whether you take a walk during your lunch break, before or after work, or to and from work, walking is great way to increase your daily physical activity. And since sitting has been deemed the “new smoking”, the more you walk, the better your health.

  1. Walking is the most popular form of exercise in the U.S.
  2. To burn off a plain M&M candy, you would need to walk the length of a football field.
  3. The average human walking speed is 3.1 miles per hour.
  4. A typical pair of tennis shoes last for 500 miles of walking.
  5. Less than 50% of Americans exercise enough to see significant health benefits.
  6. Walking 6,000 steps a day will help improve your health and walking 10,000 will help you lose weight.
  7. A person walks 65,000 miles in their lifetime – that’s equivalent to walking three times around the earth.
  8. Walking increases blood flow to the brain and improves your mood.
  9. Walking for 10 miles every week would eliminate 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
  10. Walking an extra 20 minutes a day will burn 7 pounds of body fat per year.

Enjoy the weather, enjoy the view and stay safe!

Sources:

https://www.factretriever.com/walking-facts

https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/why-walk-fun-facts-for-motivation

Start September with 5 Commuting Updates and Useful Information

1 Sep

 

  • NJ Transit restores full service. Phase One of Amtrak’s track renewal project is complete and NJ Transit will restore full service to and from Penn Station New York, starting September 5, 2017.  The alternate travel options, cross-honoring, and discounted fares will no longer be in effect after this date.  Cross-honoring with private bus carriers, NY Waterways, and Path will end on September 2, 3:00 AM.  New rail schedules are expected to take effect on September 5, 2017 and are available at njtransit.com. The freeB Commuter and Bank of America shuttle schedule changes will be available at gmtma.org starting September 2, 2017.
  • Avoid back to school traffic by carpooling. Check out the largest ridesharing network and register for FREE at njrideshare.org. After you register, sign up for the emergency ride home with your local TMA. Mercer and Ocean county residents can go to gmtma.org.
  • How to save about $2,000/year when you commute? Pack your lunch. Here are some lunch recipe ideas to keep your lunch box and your wallet happy.
  • Speaking of saving money, what’s up with the E-Zpass NJ-NY controversy?  Some commuters with E-ZPasses issued by other agencies other than MTA and travelling into NY were surprised to see they were not receiving a discount and were charged cash rates. MTA have a disclaimer on their website ( “E-ZPass rates apply only to customer tags issued by a New York E-ZPass Customer Service Center (CSC), including MTA Bridges and Tunnels, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York State Thruway Authority, the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (Peace Bridge), and New York State Bridge Authority. Non-NY CSC customers will pay cash or Toll by Mail rates. Anyone, regardless of residency, can apply for a New York Customer Service Center-issued E-ZPass tag”) informing customers of this, but as it were the case, many NJ commuters were not aware of this because they purchased their passes with other agencies.  So, it looks like if you are commuting into NY from NJ, having an E-Zpass issued by MTA can save you money.  Transit, carpooling and vanpooling will save you even more.
  • NJ Transit cops are now wearing body cams when on patrol. According to an interview given to nj.com, an NJ Transit official said the cameras “will provide more transparency” and “de-escalate situations, minimize confrontation, and reduce civilian complaint.”

Enjoy the long weekend and be safe!

 

Sources:

http://www.njtransit.com/sf/sf_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=TrainTo

https://www.themuse.com/advice/52-creative-and-easy-lunch-ideas-thatll-make-your-coworkers-jealous

http://www.nj.com/traffic/index.ssf/2017/08/how_to_save_money_during_the_e-zpass_border_war.html

Back to School Safety Tips

18 Aug

It is that time of the year again! Schools in our area are starting classes on September 5. That means it’s time for back to school preparations and going over some back to school safety tips.

Children and Parents

Taking the school bus:

  • Wait for the bus to stop before boarding and always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access
  • Walk only where you can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see you too)
  • Look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required
  • Do not move around on the bus
  • If the school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure you use one at all times when in the bus

Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

 

If you are driving them to School:

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age)
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it
  • Require teen drivers to wear a seat belt, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations, texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction

 

 Biking to school:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic. Use multi-use paths or bike lanes when available.
  • Learn and use appropriate hand signals
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.

Walking to School:

  • Choose a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at busier intersections (note: internal neighborhood roads don’t have crossing guards so the every seems unnecessary)
  • Organize a “walking school bus,” and take turns walking children to school. Use the NJ Walking School Bus app to find other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility.

And drivers should lookout for children, slow down, obey speed limits in school zones and be prepared to stop for school buses.

If you want to know more about bike and pedestrian safety learn how to organize a walking school bus and how to use the NJ Walking School Bus app, go to gmtma.org.