People helping people as they get from here to there


Another great new feature: “Rate this message”

May 10th, 2011  |  Published in admin, announcements, Ops, social

One of the tough things about my job as “Conductor” is actually trying to manage the content & volume of the messages that people send.  Maybe you have been a part of the conversation about:

As you can imagine, sometimes, the answer is it depends. So, in the spirit of crowdsourcing, we are pleased to announce a great new feature: Rate this message. How it works:

At the bottom of every commuter-generated message you get, there will be a new section, as follows:

Was this message helpful?
Report abuse

The blue text above are links. When commuter clicks on their choice, they are taken to a web page which thanks them for casting their vote. That’s it!

A few things to note:

  • Our database records the rankings…and our program safeguards against multiple votes on a given message by the same person.
  • Regarding that last category: sometimes, Clever Commuters break the rules…and we then need to remind them of our Rules of the Road. Even more rare is the situation where true spam (from a non-Clever person) slips through. It’s a huge help if the commuters can help us identify that, too.

As you can imagine, this lays the groundwork for several new features:
1. We can give feedback and coaching to post-ers who are consistently rated “low”
2. We can reward post-ers who are rated “high”
3. We can explore new features like “ALWAYS send me updates from this person” and “NEVER send me updates from that person”
4. Automate the process for handling spam and abusive mails
5. …what else?  I’m sure there is more

“Step 1″ was just to get the framework in place. This is “version 1.0″…so I’m sure there are ways to improve it…so send me your feedback.

What this blog needs

March 9th, 2011  |  Published in admin

  1. Clever Commute logo – Better branding via putting the logo somewhere on the page
  2. Resolve proper use of “Pages” vs “Posts” – I have been inconsistent as I don’t really understand the pros/cons of each
  3. A better template…or better use of this template
  4. Example RSS feeds – I’d like display one of my rss feeds here…but I do NOT want to share the underlying URL
  5. Example ads – I’d like to showcase screenshots from the mobile experience
  6. A section for Videos – Link to / embed items from my Youtube channel
  7. Proof of concept of iFrame – I’d like to have a page that has the Clever Commute iFrame
  8. Make interactive via moderated comments – Facebook Comments…and maybe another way to let users chime in and react to posts
  9. Workflow/Templates for examples – We document those instances where Clever Commute data is better/faster than others. It’s a manual process…and I’d love to templateize it…and outsource it (e.g., find a way to pay someone to ONLY do “example” updates. I would moderate them before they go live). Maybe the simple answer is to set up the workflow so that I moderate all posts
  10. Put ads on the site – Two types (1) From a network such as Federated Media and (2) from the actual Clever Commute advertisers (is there a way for WordPress to run an SQL query and display the results in a widget?
  11. Media kits (TBD)  – we have 4 media kits (for advertisers, for B2B clients, for the media, for the riders). Can we hist this content here on the blog? For example: 75% of the content is the same across all 4…AND…when I update one, I want the content to update in all 4. Note that this content can change several times a year
  12. Ensure this blog is secure
  13. Ensure that this blog is backed-up
  14. Strategy for managing upgrades to WordPress


March 8th, 2011  |  Published in admin, announcements

This blog needs help. Can you help me? Know someone who can?

I welcome participation of any kind:

  • One time fixes and clean-up (I know…the menus/posts/pages are “all over the place”…I just don’t understand how it all works). I’d love to use a better template…
  • Add some new widgets…my logo..and some way to make it more interactive (comments are “off”…but now that Facebook has their new sign-in/comment tool…it’s time to revisit)
  • And even some ongoing help with the content (I always have ideas and content…but I just never get around to doing the actual entries. or…do YOU have ideas for content? I’m open to that, too)

Anyway…I really do believe that this blog could be so much better.

Even if you just spent a day on it…I’d welcome it…and do whatever I can to reward you. No, I don’t have cash…but maybe I can help you promote something via ads on Clever Commute?

Again – any and all help is appreciated.

Regarding Lost And Found

January 28th, 2011  |  Published in admin, announcements

If you lose something and want to see if your fellow commuters have it, it’s OK to send a message to see if anyone has found it.
Please follow these guidelines:

  1. Be specific (which train? from where? did you sit in the front? the back? where did you get off?)
  2. As we encourage for ALL Clever Commute messages, use just the subject line for your mail.
    Remember, for your protection, our technology tries to find and eliminate personal info from the bodies of all mails (e.g., your e-mail address and phone number).


Jan monthly pass left in front car of 6:18 PM from NYP to Watchung Avenue. Contact Bob 973-744-0987.

NOTE: here is the link to NJ Transit Lost and Found (or call 973-275-5555)


Top 7 reasons your message did NOT get posted

August 31st, 2010  |  Published in admin

We know full well that the success of this service depends on that committed minority that actually does the sharing…and I appreciate your participation and your trust. I value your feedback…and want to hear from you if you think we can improve Clever Commute (feedback at  clevercommute-dot-com)

Regarding your messages: if you follow our “best practices ” (AKA “rules of the road”)…there should be no problem

But…in the spirit of David Letterman, here are the top 7 reasons why it may be the case that you actually _sent_ a message to your community on Clever Commute…but it did NOT go through.

1. You signed up with one e-mail address (e.g., your work address)…but you sent your note from another (e.g., your home address). YOU’D BE AMAZED how often this happens.

2. Your note contained a question (even if part of your message contains “a statement”). We’ve got over 20,000 people in this network…so in order to avoid a mail storm, all questions (even rhetorical) are a no-no.

3. Your note contained something that was not constructive (e.g., “thanks NJ Transit!”). Put another way: would you expect to hear/see your message on a news report?

4. Non-suitable language  / Profanity (and we use that term liberally)

5. Your mail is not original content (e.g. you “forward” or “reply” to another message)

6. Our technology determined that another rider on your line already shared info about this particular issue
(not to fear, if you really have more/better info to add, our technology “writes to you”…and tells you how you can indeed get your message out – more info here:

7. You’re new here – We immediately make you a recipient of all the alerts on your line…but it’s a few weeks  until you can send. That gives you some time to get a feel for the zen of this group…learn the ropes.

Overall – think about it this way: the best messages are ones that help the other commuters make real-time decisions about their commute. If your message is one of those…then great. If not…it may get held for review…or not sent at all.

Twitter? Sure! Show me the “follows”

August 31st, 2010  |  Published in admin, social

There is a single Twitter member (follow) corresponding to each commuter line we cover.

In addition to sending out alerts to our traditional subscribers via e-mail, we also tweet them.
So, by following those tweets, you will receive all of the alerts published by your fellow commuters.

Of course…you can use whatever Twitter follow tool you like. Your smartphone probably already has one installed.

Therefore…you can then receive the alerts however you want…even text/SMS!

NOTE: Our tweets are protected…so the first step is a request-to-follow.

Transit Carrier Line / Route Twitter “Follow”
Coach USA / Suburban Transit East Brunswick Lines cc_cusa_eb
DeCamp 33 & 66 cc_Decamp_33_66
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Montauk Branch cc_lirr_m
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Oyster Bay Branch cc_lirr_ob
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Babylon Branch cc_lirr_b
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Port Jefferson Branch cc_lirr_pj
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Far Rockaway Branch cc_lirr_fr
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Port Washington Branch cc_lirr_pw
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Ronkonkoma Branch cc_lirr_r
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Hempstead Branch cc_lirr_h
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) West Hempstead Branch cc_lirr_wh
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Long Beach Branch cc_lirr_lb
Metro North (MNR) New Haven Line cc_mnr_nh
Metro North (MNR) Hudson Line cc_mnr_hud
Metro North (MNR) Harlem Line cc_mnr_har
Metro North (MNR) Bar Car cc_mnr_bar_nh
Metro North (MNR) Bar Car (reverse) cc_mnr_bar_nh_r
Metro North (MNR) New Canaan Branch cc_mnr_nh_nc
Metro North (MNR) Danbury Branch cc_mnr_nh_d
Metro North (MNR) Waterbury Branch cc_mnr_nh_w
NJ Transit Bus (NJTB) (193, 194, 197) Willowbrook Mall Park and Ride cc_njtb_19x
NJ Transit Bus (NJTB) (167) Dumont – Harrington Park cc_njtb_167
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Pascack Valley Line cc_njtt_pvl
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Gladstone & Morristown Lines cc_njtt_mande
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Port Jervis Line cc_njtt_port
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Montclair-Boonton Line cc_njtt_mbntn
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Raritan Valley Line cc_njtt_rvl
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Main & Bergen County Lines cc_njtt_mainb
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) North Jersey Coast Line cc_njtt_njcl
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line cc_njtt_nec
PATH Journal Square – 33rd Street cc_path_jsq_33
PATH Newark – World Trade Center cc_path_nwk_wtc
PATH Hoboken – 33rd Street cc_path_hob_33
PATH Hoboken – World Trade Center cc_path_hob_wtc
SeaStreak Atlantic Highlands cc_ss_ah
Staten Island Ferry Staten Island Ferry cc_sif
Trans-Bridge Lines Allentown/Easton NJ cc_tb_a

Twitter? What’s that?

August 31st, 2010  |  Published in admin, social

Clever Commute was originally designed for use on a true mobile e-mail device (e.g., Blackberry, iPhone)…not a cell phone.
We previously did a work-around by sending e-mail to your phone (e.g.,
But now that Twitter is here…we have a new and better way:

So…here is what you should do if you want to improve your experience with Clever Commute.

Learn about Twitter (e.g., this video prepared by another company)

Put plainly: Clever Commute is leveraging existing Twitter infrastructure in order to allow for new ways for people like you to follow the updates from commuters on their line.
So what remains in order to get you up-and-running? For example, in order to follow someone whose Twitter name is crandcrand

  1. Login to Twitter…and then enter this address:
  2. Click on the Follow button near the top of the page
  3. Now that you are following the member you want to follow, you may want to
  4. Check out this list…and pick your line(s)

(FYI – not all routes currently available)

Clever Commute on your cell phone / smartphone (Twitter)

August 29th, 2010  |  Published in admin, announcements, community updates

In order to allow you to receive Clever Commute updates on your cell phone, we have formed a strategic partnership with a remarkable on-line service called Twitter. Please read on…but select the proper link…and then come back to this site for a few key points. So… are you

(1) YES – I know what Twitter is. Show me the details
(2) Twitter? What’s that?

Key Points for everyone:

  • The Twitter approach is still an experiment. Please consider it beta.
  • For now, you will not be able to SEND messages to Clever Commute from Twiiter.
  • Twitter gives you the tools you need to protect your privacy and control your “sharing” options
  • Please consider making a donation to Clever Commute in order to help us defray the costs to build and maintain this new functionality. Since SMS users can not currently share updates…and we can no longer send you sponsored messages…the fundamentals of our relationship (and our fledgling business model) will change. We would therefore appreciate you sending us a contribution. $25/year would be great…but anything is appreciated.

What Track is my train on?

May 27th, 2010  |  Published in admin, announcements, MNR, NJT

The idea: What track is my train on?  delivered to your inbox! (for NJ Transit Trains from Penn Station and Metro North Trains from Grand Central)

More info

  • How to sign up:
    a. Go to
    b. Click on Find your line
    c. Change Select provider type to Trains (track numbers)
    d. Select your carrier and line
    e. Fill in the required info and you should be all set once we OK your request.
    f. Sign up for as many as you’d like
  • Special note for NJ Transit riders:
    It seems that there is some cross-listing of trains between the 4 lines that run to NYP. So…
    If you are looking to sign up for certain Gladstone/Morristown line trains…you might have to look on “Montclair/Boonton” (and vice versa)
    If you are looking to sigh up for certain “North Jersey Coast Line” trains…you might have to look on “Northeast Corrodor” (and vice versa)
  • It’s beta.  We have given a lot of thought and time to the idea and the programming, but you should definitely verify that you are on the right train ;) We will listen to your feedback and do our best to enhance it based on what you say

Where Clever Communicator Needs Help (today – day-to-day ops)

January 4th, 2010  |  Published in admin

  1. Follow up on messages sent from subscribers…but from the “wrong” address
    (e.g., they signed up with a work e-mail….but sent from a non-work e-mail)
  2. Coach / Remind / Thank people regarding proper use of the service
  3. Follow up with people who started the sign-up…but did not finish / confirm
  4. Setup for people that use SMS / text messaging
  5. Support the process of customer service / FAQ
  6. Run monthly metrics / reporting on growth (# messages, # subscribers)
  7. Monitor the web/blogosphere/news for references to Clever Commute
  8. Follow-up with anyone who “unsubscribes” (get their feedback)