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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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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/

 

September is Healthy Aging Month

2 Sep

September is healthy aging month and good mobility is a critical aspect of healthy living!

Family Walking In The Park

Most of us recognize that poor health can affect a person’s ability to get around easily.  Less attention though has been given to the fact that mobility affects health and well-being. Access to transportation for seniors is closely tied to their quality of life.

Did you know:

  • 21% of seniors no longer drive
  • Non-drivers make 15% fewer trips to the doctor
  • 59% fewer shopping trips
  • 65% fewer trips for social, family and religious activities

We all need to have the ability to stay connected to our communities, healthcare, shopping and social opportunities.  Healthy aging depends on it!

How to help yourself or the seniors in your life:

  1. Encourage everyone to keep walking. Maintaining mobility is a lot easier than regaining mobility.
  2. Promote Complete Streets in your town so that safe walking is possible.
  3. Keep driving skills sharp by signing up for a driver refresher course through AARP.
  4. Learn how to use public transportation. It will be much easier to “put down the keys” if it should become necessary.  Contact GMTMA to learn about our travel training classes.
  5. Learn about senior ride services like TRADEand RideProvide in Mercer County and Ocean Ride in Ocean County.
  6. Advocate for improved transportation options for seniors.
  7. Have a positive attitude!

Have You Planned for Your ‘Driving Retirement”?

13 Nov

 

A recent NPR article had an interview with a 94-year-old that planned for the day when she would stop driving and then did so as planned.  Planning for your “driving retirement” is something that the majority of people don’t even consider.  Some seniors might consider hanging up the keys but they are afraid of losing their independence. Others simply refuse to admit they need to stop driving and most of the time the family has to intervene.

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As the woman in the NPR interview  said, planning for it and knowing when to stop driving is very important. For her, that moment came in her 80’s when she noticed her eyesight was declining, making her anxious to drive on the highway.  She also did not want her children to have to go through a difficult conversation with her and possibly make the decision for her, causing friction and possible hurt feelings.  But that happens quite often for other families. It is not an easy conversation to have.

Aging doesn’t guarantee that you will need to stop driving, but giving up driving is a lot less scary if you plan for it.  The steps that will ensure an easier transition to being a non-driver are some of the same tips that will help keep you driving longer.

  1. Keep on moving! Staying active through walking and exercise improves your flexibility and overall mobility.  Physical conditioning has been shown to improve driver performance.  And walking/cycling is a great way to travel for short distance trips and to access the bus or train station.
  1. Be mindful of your health. Driving ability is related more to health than age.  There is no single age that someone needs to stop driving.  Know the signs that it is time to give up driving.
  1. Travel using public transportation. Familiarize yourself with the options where you live and use them long before you need to stop driving.
  1. Sign up for a travel training class. If you aren’t sure how to use public transit, consider signing up for a travel training class.  Greater Mercer TMA offers classes that teach you how to use transit, including a field trip on the bus. Contact GMTMA to sign up for a class!
  1. Learn about Community Transportation options for seniors.  In Mercer County RideProvide and TRADE are available as well as many other municipal options.  Check out the Mercer County Mobility Guide to learn about other options.  In Ocean County, Ocean Ride is available.
  1. Become familiar with other alternatives such as carpooling, taxis and ride-hailing services.
  1. Expand your social connections and find travel buddies. Whether you take transit together or drive together you will be able to help each other out if you transition to a non-driver.
  1. Understand the benefits of not driving. Not driving means saving on the cost of car ownership.  Driving less will also save you money.  It also encourages more biking and walking which will improve your overall health.  

Although it may take some lifestyle adjustment and planning, there are transportation alternatives available for the non-driver. Start by cutting down on driving and replacing some of the trips with other transportation options.  If you do, it will be a lot easier and less stressful to stop driving should that decision need to happen.

If you or your loved ones live in Mercer County, contact us to see if they qualify for the Ride Provide Transportation Program, a door-to-door transportation program. With trips to medical appointments, hair salon, shopping, and other social activities, the program offers more flexibility than many other programs.

And as always, stay safe!

 

GMTMA Launches New Program

5 Jun

Good moves slide

GMTMA is excited to announce the launch of the brand new “Good Moves” program. Good Moves is a personalized transportation planning service for Mercer and Ocean counties residents. It is a free resource that provides personalized transit schedules, bike maps, carpool matching, and more! No more wondering about how to get from Point A to Point B without driving alone in your car!

We want residents to know that driving alone in a car isn’t the only option for getting around. There are other transportation options including transit, biking, and walking that are easily accessible. Good Moves is a valuable resource to residents that are new to the area and are unfamiliar with the plethora of transportation options. However, Good Moves is available to anyone!

To kick-off the program we sent direct mailings about our service to new residents in the area.  We quickly began to receive requests for information from people who are ready to make a good move.

A Lawrenceville resident requested a personalized public transportation plan and a biking map to ride to get to transit.  

Another resident wanted a personalized plan including public transportation options to Manhattan.

Good Moves is happy to connect all of these people to sustainable transportation options in their community! Not only does taking other transportation options besides a car connect you to your community, but it provides numerous other benefits! You will save on the cost of gas and the upkeep of a vehicle and reduce carbon emissions and road congestion. Additionally, walking and biking around town offers exercise and health benefits.

If you are interested in receiving your free personalized transportation guides, visit http://www.gmtma.org.

Greater Mercer TMA 2014 Impact

2 Jan

web info

 

 

Make the Right Choice This Holiday Season

19 Dec
Photo credit NHTSA

Photo credit NHTSA

December was designated Impaired Driving Prevention Month in 2013 after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released new data showing that drunk driving fatalities had increased.  With gas prices lower than in previous years many more people will be driving for the Holidays. The holidays are festive and fun but they are also a time of increased alcohol consumption. To raise awareness and reduce the number of people driving under the influence, the “Drive sober or get pulled over” campaign started December 12th and the crackdown will continue through December 31st.

If you take a look at the statistics you can see why there is a concerted effort to bring this issue under control.  Almost 1/3 of those killed in crashes over the 2012 Holiday period were in drunk-driving crashes. According to NHTSA during the 2012 holiday season, 830 people lost their lives in crashes that involved drunk drivers. That was in December alone!

Another sobering statistic shows that between December 2008 and December 2012, 3,994 people were killed in crashes that involved drivers with Blood Alcohol Content higher than .08 grams per deciliter. 

Although the legal limit is .08 grams per deciliter, alcohol consumption affects people’s ability to drive in different ways. Alcohol is a depressant drug and it reduces speed of reaction, reduces concentration, impairs vision, and some people may feel over confident which may lead to making rash decisions and taking the risk of driving impaired.

That is why it is recommended to have a plan in place if you’re planning to have alcohol for the holidays.   You can designate a driver ahead of time, call a cab, or take public transportation; it is not worth taking the risk.

Other things you can do to keep the Happy in Holidays are: helping other people be responsible, if someone you know has been drinking, don’t let them drive and if you see a drunk driver, call the police.

 As always, we wish you all Safe and Happy Holidays!

 

PS: In many countries the legal limit is lower than the US one, somewhere between .02 and .08 and in some countries (in Europe no less) there is a zero tolerance policy.

In US the legal limit is .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL).” and it is not hard to get there. If you ever wonder how the EBAC is calculated, here is the formula (Widmark formula):
– 0.806 is a constant for body water in the blood (mean 80.6%)
– SD is the number of standard drinks containing 10 grams of ethanol
– 1.2 is a factor to convert the amount in grams
– BW is a body water constant (0.58 for men and 0.49 for women)
– Wt is body weight (kilogram)
– MR is the metabolism constant (0.017)
–  DP is the drinking period in hours. (Source: Wikipedia)

How do alcohol and drugs affect your ability to drive: http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/topics/how-does-alcohol-affect-driving