PennDOT’s New Traffic Light: The Flashing Yellow Arrow

flashing-yellow-full

This new traffic light is causing some major buzz with drivers.  In April 2016, PennDOT announced that they will slowly replace all of the five-section signals (pictured above) in Pennsylvania with the new Flashing Yellow Arrow (also pictured above).

flashing-yellow-arrowThe Flashing Yellow Arrow will be in between the Yellow Arrow and Green Arrow on a Left Turn Signal at an intersection.  In comparison to the Solid Yellow Arrow, which alerts drivers that are turning left to prepare to stop, the Flashing Yellow Arrow tells drivers turning left that they can turn left, but should yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

Does it sound redundant? Maybe, but states (including Florida, Oregon and Minnesota) who have these see as much as a 20% reduction in left turn crashes after installing them.  They also improve efficiency by offering motorists more opportunities to make left turns.

Chester County is expected to have it’s first Flashing Yellow Arrow in the next two weeks at the Route 52 and Pocopson Road intersection.  We will announce more installations of the signals as they are announced.

For more information on the Flashing Yellow Arrow, visit PennDOT’s Traffic Signal Portal.

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“My Rural Life Without A Car”: Shannon’s Alternative Commute Challenge Part 1 of 5

This 5 part blog series is about TMACC’s Manager of Member Services, Shannon Maria Jones, navigating through the next 4 weeks car free.

No one likes a hypocrite, and yet I’m here to tell you that I am one.  I realize that this could apply to many things, but what I mean specifically (this is a TMACC Blog after all) is that I drive my single-occupancy vehicle every day.

For the past 14 months, I’ve used every opportunity I could to tell people that alternative transportation is easy to navigate. Not just for “everyone else.” But it WAS for everyone else for me.

Until now.

The Challenge:
For the next 30 days, I’m going to practice what I preach.  I’m going to live my life without my car.  Work, errands, doctor visits, meeting friends. Anything I need to do I will do using public transit or getting a ride with someone.

Why Now?
Truly, part of it is because I need to do it before I lose my nerve.  But I also know me… I don’t like the cold. I prefer when the mornings have light.  The summer is the right time for me to be navigating this. in case I’m waiting at bus stops forever or when I ride my bike in the rain to the train station.  I also know that commuter rates are lower during summer months, so I’m hoping more seats are available on trains and buses.

Shannon's Electric Bike

My pedal-assisted bicycle that I’ll be using to get to and from the train station.

Acceptable Modes:
Bus, train, bicycle, walking, carpooling, share-a-ride, gondola, trolley, subway. ANYTHING that isn’t me sitting in my car getting frustrated by traffic and killing the planet with my emissions.
Also worth noting, TMACC advocates strongly for flexible work environments- allow your employees to commute at off-peak hours to avoid idling. Encourage them to work remotely.  As part of this, I will be implementing one work from home day per week.

Obstacles:
I live in West Sadsbury 1 ½ miles from the Amtrak station and ~ ½ mile from the nearest bus stop- CHESCOBUS’s Coatesville  LINK route.  Unfortunately, due to recent funding cuts, the LINK only runs Monday to Friday now, so this will require me to get creative with errands and weekend plans.  I’m also not in great shape and have bad knees- so though I feel that biking is a viable option for my day-to-day, I’m concerned that my body might not support that goal.

Goals:
1. Reduce stress by not sitting in traffic.  My commute is approximately 26 miles one way and takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on traffic conditions.

  1. Reduce emissions. I drive a LOT for work and pleasure. In 2011, the average car in the US was driven 11,300 miles. I average 30,000 miles per year. If there’s someone that should find ways to cut back- it’s me. Since 17.68 pounds of CO2 per gallon of gasoline is released into the ozone that means I have the ability to save over 1200 pounds of carbon dioxide if I skip just six tanks of gas in 30 days.
  2. Understand public transit in Chester County and hopefully inspire other people to use it not because they have to, but because they WANT to!

Preparations:
I’m starting Wednesday, July 15.  Right now to prepare I bought a 10 trip ticket for the Amtrak Train from Parkesburg to Paoli.  Once in Paoli I’ll board the SEPTA 206 bus to get to my office so I’ve also bought tokens.  I’m prepared with a 10-trip ticket on the LINK as well, and I’ve stocked up on the most current copies of schedules.  I’ve also started to plan my work meetings at times of day that work with the transit schedule (the 206 bus only operates during peak commute times) or scheduling meetings with a friend who can drive.  I’ve also downloaded the SEPTA and AMTRAK apps so I can check service delays and times.

What You Can Do:
Follow me here, on Twitter @ChesCoCommuter and on Facebook (ChesCoTMA) to hear my story.  I’ll blog once a week but the social media updates can come at all times.  And of course… consider trying it yourself!

Shannon Maria JonesShannon Maria Jones is TMACC’s Manager of Member Services. She’s a resident of West Sadsbury Township, Chester County where she lives with her husband Jasen and their rescued dog, Sadie. An avid traveler, Shannon navigates public transit when overseas or in urban areas, but has rarely used public transportation as part of her daily commute. Slightly obsessed with “Super Size Me” and Morgan Spurlock’s series “30 Days” she is perhaps too excited about what this challenge will bring in terms of personal growth.

“What do you do?”-5 Roles of a TMA

Blog Post 1

If you don’t work for one of the 128 TMAs in the United States, then you may have not encountered the term before.  Working in the industry, we see many eyes glaze over when we say we work at a “Transportation Management Association”.  However, TMA’s play a very important role in the regions they serve, and if you aren’t working with one, you should start.

So what is a Transportation Management Association?

Before explaining the roles of a TMA,  you need to know what one is.  According to the leading advocate for commuter transportation, the Association for Commuter Transportation, a Transportation Management Association (or TMA) is…“an organized group applying carefully selected approaches to facilitating the movement of people and goods within an area.”  Those “carefully selected approaches” are normally defined as transportation demand management strategies, which are strategies or policies to reduce the amount of traffic demand or redistribute the demand in space or time.  The goals of a TMA can vary from location to location, but the main goal of TMAs is to reduce traffic congestion and increase mobility.

Within that goal are major roles TMAs play in order to accomplish their overarching agenda.  There are, in fact, 5 major roles all TMAs play in the world of transportation:

#1) TMAs are Consultants

Many TMAs act as consultants to provide transportation advice and support to individual businesses. Member businesses contact TMAs to help with a variety of services like: vanpool programs, discounted transit passes, rideshare options, shuttle services, trip planning, and alternative transportation options in their area.  TMAs also assist with public entities, such as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and SEPTA, in coordinating construction projects and outreach.

#2) TMAs are Informers

Due to the wide array of entities TMAs work with, they have a wealth of information for businesses and the public  about important transportation issues in their service area. Because of the close collaborations with public entities like PennDOT and SEPTA, TMACC receives updates on road projects like, US 202 and Route 100 and then distributes information to the public. Want to know why a road was closed on your commute? Call you local TMA, and they’ll be able to tell you why.

#3) TMAs are Educators

TMAs can serve as educators to benefit employers, developers, public agencies, and customers about transportation problems and issues that exist in their service area, and solutions and strategies that can be employed to address them.  For example, Pittsburgh has a large population of commuters who walk and bike.  To educate the newest residents on best travel behaviors, Oakland TMA, hosted a traffic safety course for the students of Oakland college.

#4) TMAs are Advocates

It is not uncommon to find staff members of a TMA participating in local planning and economic development committees.  Many TMAs have developed credibility with local governments, planning commissions, and chambers of commerce to promote better long-term transportation and land use planning.  Working with a TMA can work in your favor.  If you’re having trouble contacting the right people to make a change in your city’s transportation network, connecting with your local TMA is the first step in the right direction.

#5) TMAs are Transit Providers (sometimes)

In some instances, like with TMACC or Ride-On TMA, TMAs will provide public transportation services or shuttle services to their area.  TMACC operates a public transportation service in Southern Chester County and Coatesville.  Other TMAs, like GVFTMA, will operate shuttle services that are not on a timed schedule, but help to fulfill the need to move people, especially when other options are not available.

TMAs are important to your community in advancing mobility and enhancing infrastructure.  Contact your local TMA today to see what role they can play for you. Or if you live in Chester County, contact us!