Transit Thursday: March Wrap-Up

March blog (1)Time sure flies when you’re talking transit! Before we knew it, March was gone! Here are some highlights from a exciting month:

1. #CarlessMarch Was A Success
This month I took on the challenge of going without a car. Let me tell you, it was not easy. But nothing jump starts an education in transit like using it! Did you miss my carless month? Read all the blogs here.

Rider Profile2. Our Riders Are Awesome
This month we posted a rider profile on one of our regular transit riders, Walmer Medina. Be sure to keep checking in for more profiles coming soon!

3. A Week Of Telework
This March we celebrated Telework Week. We created this info page as a source for telework facts and our shareable infographics!

4. Welcome To The Vanpool Party
We have recently started our first-month-free promo! If any new riders join between now and May 31st, their first month will be rebated, up to $100. Learn all about it here!
If you want to know why Vanpool is awesome, read our latest blog! (It has gifs!)


There is much more to come in April, so don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Transit Thursday – February Wrap-Up

Happy Thursday! As this is the last blog post of February 2016, we wanted to wrap-up an amazing month for GoSmart and the whole Go family! Here are some highlights:

1. #NewYearNewCommute and #GoLoveNC were awesome! 

IMG_4253.JPGIn February we celebrated New Year’s resolutions and Valentine’s Day with two cool campaigns. Lots of people joined GoPerks and started tracking their commuting miles! Have you joined yet?

2. We love our riders and our bus operators!

Our lovely daily commuters shared why they love using transit, while the Durham Skywriter interviewed GoDurham’s very own Tonia Burnette!

3. Cool transit stories in the news.

This month seemed full of unique transportation stories, such as red carpet lanes in San Francisco and a woman crocheting her wedding dress on her morning bus commute!

IMG_45494. The best is yet to come.

Yeah, February was pretty awesome. But we are thinking March might be even better. Want a preview? How about beta testing the TransLoc-Uber app, the launch event on March 3rd, and…should we even say it…Carless March? Yes, yours truly will be trying to go car-free for the entire month of March. Uh-oh! Wish me luck and stay tuned for more!


Want to join us on the Carless March challenge? Contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to share your story! And don’t forget to track your miles with GoPerks!

Transit Thursday – Live Your Best Life

jump-1527153-1598x1061It’s easy to quantify the financial and health
benefits of taking public transportation, but what about just…happiness? Here at GoSmart, we are strong believers that if you take transit, you are living your best life.

Now I know that’s a big statement. And you’re thinking, “Sam, are you going to back this up?” Yes reader, I will. So read on!

Picture this, an uninterrupted period of time for you to organize, get ready for the day, catch up on work, or maybe just close your eyes and meditate? Now imagine that zen time replacing your frenzied and stressful commute via car. You can go from tense to relaxed, and drop some worries, with a new commute!

Public transit is a great time to catch up on reading, plan for the week, or just take a little time each day just for you! And it gets better, because there are life benefits, such as weight loss, increased economic opportunities, and an overall safer commute. Using transit may even make you more inventive since many bus commuters walk the first and last mile, and a study done at Stanford found walking to boost creative inspiration and output by up to 60%!

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If the creativity boost and the mental health break doesn’t get you excited, how about prizes? With GoPerks and Share the Ride NC you can track any commute that you walk, bike, bus, carpool, you name it…just not driving alone! Your tracked miles turn into points which can be redeemed for some pretty awesome prizes…hint hint, gift cards! So head over to GoSmartNC.org/GoPerks right now to learn all about it!


It’s not too late to get started on your resolutions, so head over to GoSmartNC.org/NewYear to learn more and join the conversation with #NewYearNewCommute.

Transit Thursday: My First Light Rail Experience

Greetings from the Land of 10,000 lakes! Yes, that’s right – I’m blogging to you all the way from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’ll be giving more details as to why on the blogsphere this Monday, but being here has actually given me some insight into the work Triangle Transit and Our Transit Future are doing back in the RDU. How? Just a few days ago, I took a ride on the light rail for the first time.

Since I started working at Triangle Transit, I’ve learned more about the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project, yet I’ve never seen light rail in action. Like many of you, I wondered what it sounded like, what it looked like, and how it would interact with the streets in our area. I read the information on the Our Transit Future website and watched the flyover video, but still, it was difficult to envision this new transit mode. Luckily, Minneapolis installed their latest light rail line, the Green Line, a few weeks before I arrived. So just a two days ago, I walked down the street and hopped on an outgoing train to the Mall of America. Here’s how my trip went:

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When I arrived at the light rail station, my first stop was the ticket booth. The ticket booth was entirely automated and accepted debit and credit cards as well as cash for fares. I simply inserted my card, clicked the standard fare, and retrieved my ticket from the bottom of the machine. You could also use your GoTo Pass to pay for your fare (Minneapolis’ all-purpose transit fare card) or purchase or refill your GoTo pass at the ticket booth.

Since Minneapolis’ light rail line operates at high frequency during peak hours, I only waited for my train for about five minutes. It was incredible to sit back and not worry about when the train was going to arrive because the train was essentially always on its way. Miss the 10:42 train? That’s okay, there’s another one at 10:50. Pretty dang sweet.

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While I waited for my train, I checked out the other train getting ready to leave the station. That’s when I realized something I never had about light rail cars: you can wrap them just like buses. During my ride, I saw several cars like the one below wrapped in advertising featuring local universities (how would that Carolina blue look like along an entire light rail train, hmm?) and local businesses.

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Sure enough, my train arrived a few minutes later. When the light rail pulled into the station, bells sounded and lights flashed, just as they would at a normal train crossing.

However, unlike a normal train crossing, the light rail line used the street just like cars. The “rails” were laid into the concrete, and cars could drive on them when the train wasn’t using them. The light rail didn’t take up any extra space; it moved in sync with ongoing traffic.

Check out the video below of a light rail train leaving the station:

 

Once I boarded the light rail car, I settled into the comfy seats for my 30 minute trip to the Mall of America. Like on the bus, a row of seats near the door folded down to accommodate the elderly or disabled. The doors opened and closed at every station, but the length they were opened varied. At bigger stations, i.e., the airport and the mall, the doors remained open for several minutes so people had plenty of enough time to get on and off. At smaller stops, the doors opened and closed briefly.

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As the light rail stopped at said stations, it was interesting to see how each station represented the area it was in. Some stations featured cool light displays, while others featured murals and unique metalwork. At this point, I started imagining what light rail stations in the Triangle could look like and got a little homesick. Here are a few of my favorites:

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After about ten stops, the light rail arrived at the Mall of America. For the first time in my life, I walked into a mall without already feeling stressed. Instead of spending precious time hunting for a parking spot, I strolled into the food court just as the Nestle chocolate booth started handing out free samples. Needless to say, I’ll be hanging up my car keys and purchasing my GoTo pass tomorrow.

Overall, my biggest takeaway from my first light rail ride was how simple it was. Buying my fare was straight-forward, the high frequency schedule was stress-free, and the route map was easy to follow. Although Triangle Transit buses participate in the Bus On Shoulder System to avoid traffic, the light rail hardly ever interacted with traffic. Instead, the light rail train and the cars alternated who could use the street. When the light rail wasn’t coming, the cars drove along the road. When the light rail was coming, the cars stopped and waited like at a railroad crossing before resuming.

The light rail also seemed to encourage growth: at almost every light rail station, new apartment buildings were being built near the tracks. Neighborhoods were springing up around the light rail line everywhere I looked, allowing Minneapolis residents to simultaneously live further out of the city and have shorter commutes. In areas like the Triangle, this scenario could allow commuters to have more flexibility in where they want to live while not sacrificing more time to their commute. Triangle commuters, I can hardly wait for light rail to come to you in the RDU.

So, do you have any questions about the light rail here in Minneapolis? Think of any awesome design ideas for a light rail station in Chapel Hill or Durham? How do you feel about light rail coming to the Triangle? Just tweet @GoTriangle or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Have a great Thursday,

Grace

Transit Thursday: Transit Tools

We’re only 18 days away from Triangle Transit’s official fall service changes! Our route maps are being updated, new timetables are being created, and we’re *this* close to being ready for our big debut. So how can you get ready for the upcoming service changes? We’ve found a couple ways to keep the transition smooth and make sure you can still take it easy during your ride:

1) Check out the new route schedules and maps

The Triangle Transit official service changes page lists each service change by route. You can check out the maps and timetables that have already been updated or read more about the brand-new Orange-Durham Express route. By familiarizing yourself with the upcoming changes, you’ll already be one step ahead.

2) Sign up for MyRide alerts

Head over to the Triangle Transit website and click the tab “MyRide.” Once you’re there, you can either log in to an existing account or create a new MyRide account. As a MyRide user, you can sign up for route- and stop-specific alerts, meaning you’ll be the first to know about any detours or delays related to your route or stop. You’ll also be able to sign up for GoTriangle newsletters, including the cycling newsletter and new service changes newsletter.

3) Catch up on the latest transit trip planner tech

As a regular bus rider, I can usually judge whether it’s a “I have a few extra minutes to pack my lunch” morning or a “I better bolt to the bus stop right now” morning. How? The TransLoc app. While there are several ways to get real-time bus route info, this handy transit app is by far my favorite. TransLoc allows you to choose a local transit service (DATA, Triangle Transit, NCSU Wolfine, etc.), then type in your stop number to see exactly what time the next bus will arrive at your stop. Plus, instead of worrying whether hitting “snooze” will make you miss the bus, you can tell TransLoc to alert you when the bus is 15 minutes away, 10 minutes away, or just 5 minutes away. You can even watch the bus move along its route on the map. If it’s late, you can see that it’s stuck in traffic downtown or running on a detour and will be on its way soon (like in the picture below). Pretty sweet, right? Just visit the App Store or GooglePlay for a free download.

By following these simple tips, you should be prepped and ready to go when August 18th rolls around. Think of anything we may have missed or have some transit tips of your own? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook so we can share them with the rest of our followers.

Have a great Thursday,

Grace

 

 

Transit Thursday: Welcome ODX!

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Over several months of local meetings, planner suggestions, and presentations  to the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees, Triangle Transit has carefully gathered your feedback on what they can do to improve transit in our area. The result: extended hours, 7-day service, and a brand new bus route! Yes sir, come August 18th, there will be no more “stranded Sundays” and no more fear of missing out. You’ll be able to take public transit to each corner of the Triangle and take it easy.

We’re particularly excited about the newest member of the Triangle Transit family: the Orange-Durham Express. The Orange-Durham Express (ODX) will connect Hillsborough and northern Orange County residents to downtown Durham. After traveling from the North Hillsborough Park-and-Ride to Durham Station, riders will then be able to make connections to Chapel Hill (Routes 400 and 405), as well as to Raleigh (DRX) and the Research Triangle Park (Route 700). Check out the ODX schedule below:

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Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sending out more information about the ODX along with other route-specific service news through our MyRide listserv. Have you signed up? If you haven’t, just head over to the Triangle Transit website to receive alerts tailored to your bus stop. It takes less than one minute, and after you sign up, you’ll be the first to know about any delays, detours, or updates along your daily route.

So, what are you looking forward to most with new the service changes? We’re already feeling the excitement on Twitter. Let us know where you plan to go in August on the new ODX by tweeting @TriangleTransit.

Have a great Thursday!

– Grace

Transit Thursday: Bike Sharing

The results are in: yesterday, Midtown Raleigh News announced that a recent study found Raleigh can support a bike share program. This “feasibility” study factored in variables like tourist market, population density, resident polls, and city comparison. Ultimately, the Oak City stood up to the task and proved it could be the next hot spot for the cycling program.

resultsWhy are we so excited about this news? Well, not only is bike sharing good for the environment, it’s also good for cities and their residents.
In 2013, 43% of bike share participants in Denver reported that they use the program to replace car trips, while 31.5% of D.C. bike sharers reported reduced stress. In fact, cyclists  lose 13 pounds on average in their first year of cycling.

One study even found that only 39.8% of men who cycle to work are overweight compared to the 60.8% of men who drove to work. Another reported that women who walk or bike 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer.

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By using a bike share program, you can tighten your waistline without tightening your wallet. Many cities have seen an uptick in business after implementing bike share programs. In Paris, local bike sales experienced a 35% increase with similar results across the US. CitiBike alone has created 200 new jobs.

One blogger explains that economic stimulus from bike sharing occurs in several ways: (1) by diverting customers to local businesses; (2) leaving potential customers with more cash in their pockets; and (3) by providing incentives for young, tech-savvy employees to relocate to areas. These all sound like excellent things both for Raleigh business and for residents.

So what do you think about a potential Raleigh bike share program? Have you tried bike sharing before in another city? Let us know by tweeting @GoTriangle or leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

Have a great Thursday,

Grace