Welcome 2017

6 Jan

Goodbye 2016!  What a wild ride we’ve had this past year—in self-driving cars and buses, on bikes and trains, walking and driving.  Let’s take a look back on the good and not so good.

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Technology and its potential took a front seat in transportation news this year.  Uber launched its first fleet of autonomous vehicles for use with its ride-hailing service in Pittsburgh this year and it seems clear that this is just the beginning. US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx predicted that “By 2021, we will see autonomous vehicles in operation across the country in ways that we [only] imagine today… Families will be able to walk out of their homes and call a vehicle, and that vehicle will take them to work or to school.”

There was increased interest on how the autonomous vehicle industry should be regulated, especially after Tesla cars using the autopilot feature were involved in three crashes, one of them fatal. The feature was in the testing phase, and the drivers were supposed to have their hands on the wheel.  At the end of 2016, Michigan became the first state to pass self-driving regulations.

In 2016 we also saw the first self-driving buses. Helsinki started testing two of the world’s first self-driving buses, and they are looking into using them as a “last mile” solution to ta take commuters to larger transit hubs.

Looking to use new technology to improve transportation, the US Department of Transportation launched the Smart City Challenge, challenging cities to develop ideas for an integrated, first-of-its-kind smart transportation system that would use data, applications, and technology to help people and goods move more quickly, cheaply, and efficiently.  Columbus, Ohio walked away the winner.

Smart bikes ruled with more cities and towns, both large and small adding bike share as an option in their community.  Locally, Princeton University expanded their Bike Share program in 2016, and anyone can use the bikes by signing up for an account with Zagster.  The Bike Share system also exists beyond campus with stations at Princeton Forrestal Center, Princeton Shopping Center and the Institute for Advanced Studies.

Ridesharing became easier than ever this year with apps and other options for the occasional ride-share, and there are also the more traditional commuter options like your TMA’s ride matching programs. They are free, and you can be matched with someone who lives/works near you and has same the schedule.

Safety unfortunately took a backseat this year.  New Jersey saw an increase in the number of traffic fatalities, 607 people lost their lives in a crash last year, 8% higher than in 2015.

New Jersey’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund resulted in a work stoppage on state transportation projects this summer, but the passage of a $.23 increase in the gas tax has given the State a dedicated source of funding for infrastructure projects and improvements.

Infrastructure was a winner in the 2016 election; many cities passed transit-oriented and biking measures—a hopeful sign  for 2017 that people are willing to reduce their driving  and looking for other options!

What do you think? What have we missed?  Let us know; we want to hear from you.

Holiday Travel and Transit Schedules

16 Dec

According the AAA Year-End Travel Forecast, 2016 is another record year for holiday travel; more than 103 million will be traveling for the holidays this year.  Gas prices are still low compared to previous years and many people choose to drive to their destination, although travel by other modes of transportation will increase as well.

If you are driving, please check our winter driving safety tips before you hit the road and check out these AAA winter driving tips.

If you are taking public transit:

NJ Transit – Bus Service . December 25, Christmas Day, Sunday service, no service on 603, 611, 612, 619, 624.

Monday, December 26 – Christmas Day Observed and Monday, January 2 – New Year’s Day observed, Saturday schedule, no service on 603, 610, 611, 612, 619, 624

Bicycles permitted at all times

Rail Service – Weekend Service on Monday, December 26 – Christmas Day Observed and Monday, January 2 – New Year’s Day Observed

Bicycles are not permitted on trains on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Riverline Sunday Schedule for Monday, December 26 – Christmas Day Observed and Monday, January 2 – New Year’s Day Observed

Bicycles permitted at all times

Amtrak –Schedules available here 

AirTran – http://www.panynj.gov/airports/ewr-to-from.html

SEPTA – Monday, December 26 – Christmas Day Observed and Monday, January 2 – New Year’s Day Observed regular Sunday schedule

PATH – Christmas Day – Sunday, December 25, 2016 Sunday Schedule,  Christmas Day Observed – Monday, December 26, 2016 Saturday Schedule,  New Year’s Eve – Saturday, December 31, 2016 Saturday Schedule, New Year’s Day – Sunday, January 1, 2017 Sunday Schedule

FreeB – No Service on Monday, December 26 – Christmas Day Observed and Monday, January 2 – New Year’s Day Observed

Route 130 Connection No service on Monday, December 26 – Christmas Day Observed and Monday, January 2 – New Year’s Day Observed

Tiger Transit – Evening Circulator, Lawrence/Lakeside, Equad, Sunday Shopper, and Weekender will not be in service Thursday, December 22, 2016 – Monday, January 2, 2017.  Saturday Shopper will run on limited service from 9am -3pm on Saturday, December 24, 2016 and December 31, 2016

Suburban – Monday, December 26 – Christmas Day Observed and Monday, January 2 – New Year’s Day Observed on a Sunday Schedule

Ocean Ride No service on Monday, December 26 – Christmas Day Observed and Monday, January 2 – New Year’s Day Observed

Ride Provide – No service on Monday, December 26 – Christmas Day Observed and Monday, January 2 – New Year’s Day Observed

Happy and Safe Holidays from all of us at Greater Mercer TMA!

 

Holiday Season is Near, Drunk Driving is the Wrong Kind of Cheer

9 Dec

From December 14th to January 1st, NHTSA will run the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign to raise awareness and prevent drunk driving.  New Jersey is cracking down starting today, December 9, until January 1!

Infographic source: NHTSA

Infographic source: NHTSA

Every year during the winter holidays there is an increase in the number of drunk-driving crashes and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2014 10,076 people died in drunk driving crashes, in 2015 10, 265 people died in drunk driving related crashes. Over a five-year period, close to 4000 died in drunk driving related crashes during the month of December. It is sad to see these figures and the fact that they are going up every year. It is very sad to think that 181 children 14 and younger were among those who died in a crash involving a drunk driver.

The most dangerous times are nights, weekends, and the holidays.  In December 2015, the number of fatal crashes that involved drunk driving was 4 times higher at night than during the day. Let 2016 be the year when the trend reverses.

You can help! Be prepared and have a plan in place before going out. Have a designated driver if you plan to drink, call a cab or try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or a friend by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available at http://ow.ly/RWs3S for Android and http://ow.ly/RWs8h for iPhone users.

Another option for planning a night out, a company holiday gathering or other social events and trips, is to hire a professional driver to get you there safely and in comfort. Greater Mercer TMA members: A1-Limousine, Starr Tours, and Stout’s Transportation have limousines and buses available to ferry you and your guests to holiday festivities.

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.

Happy and safe holidays!

Source: http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov

Bicyclists Outnumber Drivers In Copenhagen

2 Dec

When we think bicycle friendly city, we think Copenhagen.   And these days Copenhagen is getting a lot of attention and envy because it just reached a milestone; the number of bicyclists surpassed the number of drivers.

You can’t help but wonder how did it get here?

It turns out Copenhagen started as a city of bicycles, and then people embraced car ownership in the 1920’s. In a simple twist, bicyclists were seen as slightly annoying to motorists and the number of traffic accidents involving bicyclist and motorists increased.

Copenhagen was headed in the same direction as many other cities, congestion, traffic accidents, and pollution. People riding bicycles kept being pushed to the side of the road or off the road and they took the streets; they wanted to be able to ride their bikes safely again. Copenhageners protested and asked for a change in street design, putting bikes first and cars second and asking for safe bicycle infrastructure.

There was, as you might expect, some back and forth about design, cost, and how to pay for the new bicycle infrastructure.

In the end, city planning gave space to bicycle lanes, bicycles experienced a comeback, and it is now once again seen as a symbol of health, freedom, and the symbol to clean and lively cities. Most people in Copenhagen, even kindergarteners and a large number of politicians, bike year round.

I guess the answer is good planning, starting young and keep the wheels spinning until it becomes such a big part of your life that you are no longer willing to tolerate pollution and traffic accidents anymore and would rather leave the car behind.

Sources:
https://cleantechnica.com/2016/11/28/people-bicycling-driving-copenhagen-now/
http://denmark.dk/en/green-living/bicycle-culture/how-denmark-become-a-cycling-nation
http://denmark.dk/en/green-living/bicycle-culture/copenhagen-bike-city-for-more-than-a-century
http://www.copenhagenize.com/2012/02/danish-bicycle-infrastructure-history.html
http://www.copenhagenize.com/
http://www.citylab.com/commute/2012/04/why-streets-copenhagen-and-amsterdam-look-so-different-ours/1849/

Thanksgiving Travel and Transit Tips

23 Nov

The AAA report is out and it looks like the number of people travelling this Thanksgiving weekend is even higher than last year, 48.7 million to be more exact.  With so many people on the roads and the possibility of wet and slippery conditions on Wednesday night into Thursday, we wanted to share a few driving safety tips.  If you don’t plan to drive, we have also included 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: 603, 610, 611, 612, 619, and 624 buses.

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 24  Thanksgiving Day  and Friday, November 25 Thanksgiving Friday.

Riverline will operate on a Sunday Schedule .

SEPTA

Thursday, November 24
Thanksgiving Day – Thanksgiving Parade

Special schedules operated on Market-Frankford Line and Broad Street Line with Night OWL Express Bus service beginning at 12:00am

Regional Rail and Surface Transportation routes will operate on a Sunday/Holiday schedule.

Additional service will operate to King of Prussia Mall.

Friday, November 25
Black Friday

Regional Rail Trains will operate weekday service.

SEPTA schedules available here.

PATH

Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 24, 2016
Saturday Schedule

Day after Thanksgiving – Friday, November 25, 2016
Modified Weekday Schedule*

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

 

 

We wish you and your family a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

World Day of Remembrance

18 Nov

This Sunday, November 20th is World Day of Remembrance, a day to remember Road Traffic Victims.

Observed in many countries around the world this day is dedicated to remembering traffic victims killed in road crashes, the families who are left to grieve the sudden loss of a loved one, and to pay tribute to the emergency response crews who respond to these crashes.

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Traffic crashes are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and speed is involved in 1/3 of the traffic deaths.

The Vision Zero Network and the National Coalition for Safer Roads have released a National Speed Fatality Map to highlight the significant role that speed plays in road crashes. You can find the map here http://ncsrsafety.org/

New Jersey has adopted the national vision for highway safety – Toward Zero Deaths: A National Strategy on Highway Safety (Toward Zero Deaths). This calls for a national goal of reducing the number of traffic fatalities by half by the year 2030. Toward Zero Deaths is based on the principle that even one traffic death is unacceptable. More information on New Jersey’s plan can be found in the 2015 New Jersey Strategic Highway Safety Plan

We at GMTMA are doing our part to keep our roads safer, working with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority to coordinate Street Smart pedestrian and motorist education campaigns in communities in Mercer and Ocean Counties. In October, GMTMA completed the first phase of the campaign in Princeton.

How can you do your part? Make a commitment to safety, share the message, and please stay safe.

Sources:

http://worlddayofremembrance.org/

http://visionzeronetwork.org/

http://ncsrsafety.org/

New Jersey Electric Vehicle Incentives

11 Nov

Recent New Jersey electric vehicle incentives have made it more enticing than ever to invest in green transportation. Through a triple bottom line lens, or options that are good for People, Planet, and Prosperity, electric vehicles are a worthy alternative to typical fuel guzzlers. A NJ Spotlight article quoted a study that found “by 2050, the state could avoid more than $4B in healthcare and climate costs if it can convince motorists to switch to electric vehicles.” An October 31 conference hosted by St. Peter’s University Hospital and Keep Middlesex Moving delved deeper into the issue.

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There are direct benefits from emission reduction. Over half of the state’s carbon dioxide output derives from transportation. Cleaner air will reduce both asthma and other poor air quality days within the state.

Evidence shows people want electric vehicles. Seen in a “State of the State” presentation, preference for electric is at a rate three times more than hybrids. Batteries are being produced more cheaply than ever and models like the Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model 3 are affordable enough to bring EVs to a wider market.

The state is striving to increase the number of charging stations available. Princeton’s Peacock Inn just installed a Tesla charger and Hamilton Marketplace has operated a Tesla Supercharger over the last two years. Last summer, Quakerbridge Mall unveiled the state’s first EVGo charger that can charge two vehicles within 30 minutes. Projects like these reduce “range anxiety” felt by drivers looking for sufficient charge for traveling.

A repeated theme of the conference was that public and private partnerships were essential for instilling electric car opportunities in NJ. PSEG spearheaded a utility effort and controls over 100 of the 400 current stations. The New Brunswick Parking Authority has incorporated a test “Juice Bar” in the Gateway Garage and St. Peter’s Hospital has provided electric stations for its employees. The Clean Communities Coalition aims to affect state policies. There is already 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.

In the near future, plugging in your car overnight will become as routine as charging your phone.

Note: A few days ago, we learned from a NJ Spotlight article that NJ will be part of “Charging Corridors” and locating chargers every 50 miles on I-80 and I-95.