Report from the Chair: Sept./Oct. 2021

On August 23rd we once again met in person at Millburn Town Hall, where we had an informative presentation from Josh Crandall of Clever Commute. Josh, who had given us a presentation a few years ago, reminded us of the project’s start when a group of 6 friend started sharing updates in 2006, just helping each other get to and from work with less stress. Since that time, Josh used his IT skills to transform the project into a full-fledged “app”, with a free and premium version. It had taken off successfully through February 2020—and then SARS-CoV-2 arrived, bringing a drop in rail ridership of 90%. Lots of Clever Commuters allowed their subscriptions to expire, not knowing what the future might hold.

Josh took the opportunity to make some back-end changes, cutting the project’s use of server time in off hours, offering access to the premium version to certain essential workers at the height (depths?) of the pandemic, and as numbers began to rise again, automating his encouraging notes to members who share important updates. Clever Commute offers a week of free premium access as a thank you to those who share useful information (with a cap of 6 months). The free version is still limited to one line, but it does now include official data, formerly premium only, along with crowdsourced tips. We appreciated this update from Josh, who is himself a commuter from Montclair to New York. It is good to see this labor of love being so successful!

Less successful was our technical experience at the meeting, as we rushed to get our conference line set up and the audio link was inadequate. For next month’s presentation, Coalition Treasurer Brad Payeur will take us on an international rail tour (he has ridden trains in 60 countries on six continents, and saw penguins on the seventh), so we will be sure to have a remote link for what is sure to be a very visual presentation. Hybrid events become more and more necessary, and we will do our best to be as inclusive as possible. Many thanks to all at Millburn who have welcomed us to the town hall conference room for our full 40-year history!

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