Justine Recio-Patel joined the Greater Mercer TMA team this summer. Here is what she has to say:
What is your job at GMTMA?
I’m a transportation planning associate, and I wear several hats. I help out with graphic design for our social media accounts and I contribute to the blog. I’m also starting a transportation podcast called Mobility Minute in January 2022.
What attracted you to this job?
I’m really excited about working in a space that promotes sustainability, accessibility, and environmental justice—it’s very intersectional. I like the opportunity to work with communities and other like-minded people.
Why is transportation important for you?
Mobility is independence; good transportation systems and programs give people a chance to pursue the things they need and want out of life. I think it’s especially important that we think about how we can empower all people—especially women, seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, people living in low income or underserved areas— to access the resources and places they need to go when they need to go, without having to take a car.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I like the people I work with! Greater Mercer TMA’s work environment is very warm and collaborative. I also really like that I can be creative about the way I do my work. I do a lot of writing, research, graphic design, and social media. Working on the podcast has been really exciting. I’ve never done it before, so it’s great to have the runway for trying new things.
Tell us about your commute to work.
I work from home a few times a week and when I need to come into the office, I walk or bike to the train station. I make a reverse commute to Princeton Junction, so my rides are usually pretty pleasant and not too crowded. My favorite part of the train ride is the trip between the Edison and New Brunswick station. At first, you’re surrounded by a thick row of trees, and then suddenly you get this gorgeous view of the Raritan River, the New Brunswick skyline, and the Rutgers University College Ave campus all at one. It’s very dramatic.
What motivates you to want to change the way people commute?
Our reliance on cars and diesel-powered freight and mass transit does more harm to us as a society than good. While I understand that for a lot of people, it could be necessary, I’d like to see more sustainable and reliable options. It’d be nice if we could really be able to walk or bike to the store or to work regularly. It’s a healthier lifestyle and better for the environment overall.
Where do you stand on the climate change debate? Do you believe climate change is real?
It is undoubtedly real. I grew up in the Philippines, which is an archipelago made up of more than 7,600 islands. It’s a very vulnerable environment. I’ve seen so many climate change-related disasters in my life, and in my childhood, I was very active in disaster relief efforts, coastal clean ups, and environmental justice. There’s no debate, it’s factual.
What is your favorite book? What is your favorite movie?
My favorite books are from the Murder Squad series by Tana French. They’re modern day detective crime novels set in Ireland. My favorite movie is Atonement (2007) directed by Joe Wright. I like most movies by Joe Wright.
What else would you like to do if you would not be working in transportation?
I would probably be in journalism or journalism-adjacent. I’ve always thought it would be cool to be a documentary filmmaker, a music journalist, or a news correspondent. I’m a storyteller at heart.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I lived in the Philippines, I liked to hike, go camping, and scuba dive. I’m still getting used to the Northeast climes, so I’m into a lot of indoor activities. I like to write stories and listen to music and podcasts. I go to pub trivia nights with my friends. I also do a fair bit of embroidery in the wintertime.
To reach Justine, you may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.