Driveless.Com: In Car Country, Making the Case for Buses

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This article was prepared for the September 26, 2001 edition of

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Smart Roads?

Headed for the Philadelphia airport and worried about

traffic conditions? Call SmarTraveler, a phone service with

minute-by-minute updates on traffic tieups in South Jersey and

Philadelphia.

It’s one of a half-dozen exhibits scheduled for the Greater Mercer

Transportation Management Association’s "Road Show Technology

Expo" on Tuesday, October 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Doral

Forrestal. At noon there will be a luncheon and membership meeting

for which invitations are required, but anyone can come to browse

the expo. Call 609-452-1491 for reservations.

David Rosenberg of Smart Route Systems will give out wallet

cards telling how to use SmarTraveler, which lets you telephone for

minute by minute updates on weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Event

and construction information is available 24 hours a day. The

information

is gathered from aircraft surveillance, from more than 35 closed

circuit

cameras, radio and cellular mobile units, and direct connections to

police, fire, and emergency services. When the "smart road"

installation is complete in Central New Jersey, SmarTraveler may also

be available here. The service is free, funded by Pennsylvania DOT.

To use SmarTraveler call 215-567-5678 (or #211 on a cellular phone,

which is free for ComCast and Sprint PCS customers). For traffic

conditions

around the Philadelphia International Airport, for instance, ask for

7451*. For information on I-95 north of the airport, ask for 952*.

Or consult the website: (www.smartraveler.com).

Also on display at the expo will be the smart road technology that

is supposed to ease traffic on Route 1, miniature machines that work

on alternative fuels, New Jersey Transit schedules and information

on the new Hamilton Train station, and WorkFirst NJ, an online

jobposting

and job finding service. Kathy Wierzbicki of the state labor

department will demonstrate WNJPIN’s website.

The TMA has the "Incident Management" contract for Mercer

County, and it is mapping out the overall plan for the county’s

response

to traffic-stopping situations. Jeanne Shreve of the TMA, along

with Sergeant Dan Morocco and Sergeant Bill McDonnell

of the State Police, will demonstrate it.

The state’s outdated ridesharing matching system, Pool Match, is being

replaced by RidePro, to be demonstrated by Steve Fittante of

Intelitron. "PoolMatch was good for its time," says Joan

Lockwood-Reck of TMA, "but it was on a Unix system, and you

had to work with print copies of match forms. Also you had to work

with zip codes, not map coordinates, because it couldn’t do

mapping."

At the lunch Assemblyman Reed Gusciora will present a resolution

honoring GMTMA for its Freewheels program. Assemblyman Alex

DeCroce

will get an award for work on the house transportation committee.

Awards will be presented for ozone action, advanced technology,

employee

transportation coordination, and outreach.

Top Of Page
Driveless.Com: In Car Country, Making the Case for Buses

September is RideShare Month in New Jersey. Sandra

Brillhart,

executive director of the Greater Mercer Transportation Management

Association, reports that ridesharing is holding steady throughout

the county. And while the number of area office workers in carpools

and vanpools is about the same as last year, Brillhart says "we’re

seeing more corporate shuttles from the train station."

An alternative to building more roads is getting more people off them,

especially at peak hours. Those corporate shuttles are a step in the

right direction. Other positive developments this year include the

commodious bike racks now attached to the front of buses. Brillhart

says every bus route in the county now provides for bike transport.

The option appears popular. Few days go by without multiple sightings

of bikes going along for the bus ride.

Brillhart notes that NJ Transit last week announced a finding that

light rail is not a viable option for the Route 1 corridor. She is

hopeful, however, that some form of bus rapid transit will be

approved.

She says the arrangement could come in any number of configurations,

ranging from an overhead power arrangement like that found in trolley

systems to dedicated lanes.

"There would be a fixed guideway," Brillhart says. "And

buses would be given preference at intersections." People often

assume that taking a bus means sitting in the same traffic everyone

else does, but Brillhart says this does not have to be so. A bus rapid

transit system could give commuters a faster ride than their car-bound

brethren.

"The system could be a sophisticated or as basic as you want,"

says Brillhart. "The buses could be sleek and attractive."

Meanwhile, she says there is a misperception in the county.

"People

say there is not a lot of bus service," Brillhart says, "but

there is." The county is pretty well covered, and she invites

would-be bus travelers to call her organization at 609-452-1491 for

help with identifying bus routes to their destinations. "We’ll

even do trip planning," she says.

The Greater Mercer TMA also has a website (www.driveless.com) for

those who would rather click for transportation options. On the site

are maps to many area office parks, complete with information on

nearby

public transportation options.

For office workers wondering what awaits them on the drive home, the

website offers a peek at road conditions at a number of points up

and down Route 1 via web cams. Most days, it’s not a pretty sight,

making the case for ridesharing all the stronger.


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