The Mercer County Mobility Survey conducted by the Greater Mercer TMA (GMTMA) found that 20% of the respondents, consisting of seniors, individuals with disabilities and people with lower income, indicated that they did not know the public transportation system well enough to feel comfortable using it. In addition, 20% of the respondents indicated that they require assistance to travel. As a result, one of the key recommendations resulting from the Mobility Survey was to implement a travel training program for Mercer County.
Travel training can help seniors, people with disabilities and people with lower income learn how to use public transportation to travel to work, shopping, doctor appointments, social events and other purposes to maintain healthy lifestyles, participate in their community and achieve economic success. GMTMA and the New Jersey Travel Independence Program @ Rutgers (NJTIP @ Rutgers) have partnered to develop and implement a Travel Training Program for Mercer County. Travel training is a group of services used to teach safe and independent travel skills on public transportation, including bus, rail and light rail. Training skills can be taught for many services provided by NJ TRANSIT, Mercer County, municipalities and private companies. Riders learn how to plan their trips, read schedules, pay fares, transfer between bus routes and trains, use accessibility features and take safety precautions during their travel.
GMTMA and NJTIP @ Rutgers kicked off the Mercer County Travel Training program in October 2014 with the residents of the Harriet Bryan House and Elm Court senior housing residences in Princeton. The Travel Training provided to Elm Court and Harriet Bryan consisted of two sessions with residents. The first session was entitled “Transit 101”. We met with interested residents in the community room of the Harriet Bryan House and reviewed public transportation options available in the area, and learned how to plan trips, obtain tickets, pay fares and use accessible feature on buses and trains.
The second session, “Steppin’ Out on NJ TRANSIT”, a group of residents went on a field trip to learn how to ride the Princeton freeB neighborhood bus and NJ TRANSIT 605 bus to the Mercer Mall. In addition to learning how to use the NJ TRANSIT bus, the day served as a social outing for the group with lunch at a local pizzeria. The residents had been familiar with how to use the Princeton freeB. The freeB stops at the Harriet Bryan House and provides access to downtown Princeton and the Princeton Shopping Center. However, to go places beyond Princeton using transit requires a transfer to a NJ TRANSIT bus route. Many residents did not have prior experience with the transfer process. They wanted to learn how to safely and comfortably complete transfers in order to broaden their access to more shopping and entertainment opportunities. For example the NJ TRANSIT 605 provides access to Princeton Market Fair, Nassau Park Pavilion and Quakerbridge Mall.
GMTMA and NJTIP @ Rutgers can provide similar travel training seminars and field trips to senior housing facilities, municipal senior centers/organizations, job placement agencies and organizations, agencies and organizations for individuals with disabilities, and community based organizations serving transportation disadvantaged populations. If you are interested in having travel training for your community group or organization, please visit https://gmtma.org/pg-seniors-travel-training.php or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.