People helping people as they get from here to there


Regarding Air Conditioning on trains

July 11th, 2014  |  Published in announcements, MNR

But this is really applicable to a lot of things on Clever Commute

We know it stinks when the commute is bad. Heck, that is why we built Clever Commute. But there are 3 questions to ask yourself before you send an “alert” to the group:

“Does the message I am about to send contain actionable information
1. … that people can use in order to plan their commute?
2. … with tone and content that you would find on a radio/TV traffic report?
3. … that is an objective statement (e.g., not a rant…not a question…even a rhetorical one)?
If it’s NOT yes-yes-yes…then you may just be venting. If that’s the case, then you should check out (yes…that’s a real thing).
Other notes:

  • Clever Commute is not affiliated with the transit providers. According to Clever Commute terms and conditions, they do not receive / read these messages.
  • Do NOT initiate any call-to-action or other advocacy on Clever Commute (e.g., direct commuters to “call the governor” etc.)
  • Please remember to use the “Was this alert helpful?” found at the bottom of every mail we send you.

Watch this space (and be amazed)

July 3rd, 2014  |  Published in announcements, community updates, documentation, Inside Track, media, NJT, press, promotion

In the Summer of 2012, as a member of NJ Transit’s Developer program, Clever Commute built an app which gave commuters track number information in advance of being announced by NJT.

The information Clever Commute shared came directly from a NJT datafeed…and was delivered to the commuters in compliance with the NJT/Clever Commute partnership agreement.  Both sides openly acknowledged that the advance-track-number information was not 100% accurate/complete. However, Clever Commuters raved about this service.

NJT expressed displeasure with the fact that we were indeed using one of the data fields that they included in the field provided to us (and to all developers). Details of NJT/Clever Commute story can be found in this Wall Street Journal story.
To make a long story short: NJT stopped sharing that particular data feed with all developers.

However, Clever  Commute used this series of events as a catalyst to build an amazing suite of premium services which meets the needs to today’s commuters. We spent two years working / building / designing. After putting in over 1,200 enhancements, we are announcing the next version of The Inside Track – a portfolio of amazing features which empowers the commuters and gives them control over the data they need.

Today’s big news: Early-notice track numbers are coming back. In many ways our new approach makes “Round 2″ better than before. 

Please follow this link to see all the details.




Personalized commuter forecast

April 4th, 2014  |  Published in announcements, Inside Track

The Inside Track has a new service which gives you a personalized forecast for your evening commute. By combining data and analytics, we deliver the custom report to your in-box…before you leave the office.

Run it anytime via The Inside Track mobile solution (steps below).
It shows you the results in the browser and it also sends it to you via e-mail. This push means there is no need to log in or have an internet connection at the train station.

It’s “one-stop shopping” and “know before you go”. Here is some of what you get:

  1. a jump on fellow commuters :). You’ll have track number history & track posting time predictions.
  2. performance metrics (e.g., on-time departure stats)
  3. overall system stats…based on the departure board
  4. a summary of recent commuter-generated alerts (on your line plus any relevant systemwide messages)
  5. timely updates from the official service providers (e.g., NJ Transit)
  6. curated social media content


  • To generate your Commuter Forecast: Go to The Inside Track and click on the red gears icon at the top right. Select Commuter Forecast.
  • In the future, you will have the ability to opt-in to receiving it automatically in the late afternoon
  • The Commuter Forecast is much more powerful once you have set your MyTrains preferences
  • Not all features are available for all transit providers



You may be able to get “The Inside Track” For Free

December 3rd, 2013  |  Published in announcements, Inside Track

For the casual commuter, our free app meets the need. However, seasoned commuters need the features of our premium service – The Inside Track.  There are currently 8 ways to get a free year of The Inside Track:

  1. Share-ers: If you are someone who shares info, you deserve to get it for free *
  2. People who are in career transition (e.g., unemployed or about to be)
  3. Full-time students (includes high school commuters)
  4. People in their first year in the workforce (e.g., recent grads)
  5. Ex-military people returning to the civilian workforce
  6. Other people returning to the workforce (e.g., caretakers who are re-joining the commuting community)
  7. Senior citizens 65 years of age or older
  8. People who are disabled

* Our current guideline is to offer free Inside Track to people who make 24+ posts in the prior calendar year. (this is a guideline as we may adjust it based on size/history of the Clever community. Nonetheless, in all communities, your posts need to have been well-received by fellow commuters via our rating system.)

If you’d like to take us up on this offer, then send us a note via the Contact link on our site and we’ll add your e-mail address to the comp list.

Inside Track – What’s new

December 1st, 2013  |  Published in announcements, Inside Track

Welcome back!

Clever Commute’s Inside Track delivers info to you via E-mail, Text messages and our mobile solution –

Since we are always adding new features, we thought we’d highlight the newest, coolest things for you to check out:

And Soooooooo much more. We now offer over 30 features!

Note: Not all features available for all providers…but we’re working on it!

If you have ANY questions about what you get for your money, please use the Contact feature of our web site to ask. We want you to be thrilled with the service…and we promise a prompt and personal reply.






Inside Track info for recent joiners

December 1st, 2013  |  Published in announcements, Inside Track


You are still in your “free trial” period…and we want to be sure that you get all the value you can.
Here are some top tips for getting the most value from your Inside Track membership:

You’re the customer…and we want you to be happy. So, please use the Contact feature at our web site if you have any questions, concerns or feedback.


Sept 25 – Special Announcement for MNR Riders

September 25th, 2013  |  Published in announcements, MNR

Thanks to all the commuters who shared info this morning…and welcome to all the new people! Please continue to send people to to get “on board.” A few things to note:

1. The next few days (and maybe weeks) will be challenging for Metro North riders.

MTA’s service plan for tomorrow (Thursday) can accommodate approximately 33% of the regular ridership on the New Haven Line.

2. Generally, the Clever Commute service works best when everyone abides by the best practices (Rules of the road)
However, during times like these, it’s OK to be innovative. If you see something which will help your fellow commuters…then please share it.

3. Clever Commute technology filters and cleanses the messages in several ways.
We do our best to ensure only “good” messages reach you. However, if you want an extra level of control, we encourage you to explore our premium product.
We’re not looking to turn this MTA issue into a sales opportunity…but just wanted to let you know that “The Inside Track” does offer you the ability to filter messages by category, duration of the delay, time-of-day, day-of-week, etc.
You can also monitor all 3 MNR lines…and do about 30 other things.
It costs $2.99 a month…and the “send me my track number” feature has been a huge hit. Read all about it here – Landing Page

4. Finally – if you are the Twitter type, you get your alerts by following
  • @cc_mnr_nh – New Haven Line
  • @cc_mnr_har – Harlem Line
  • @cc_mnr_hud – Hudson line
Read more about our Twitter approach here
I think that’s it. Thanks again…good luck…and remember to share info (NOT questions) using the “” address found in the footer the mails you get from our service.
–Conductor Josh

Now, anyone can share a transit alert with fellow commuters! [beta]

September 16th, 2013  |  Published in admin, announcements, documentation, promotion

The link:

Previously, in order for commuters to share info on Clever Commute, they needed to be a registered member (of our free service…or our premium service – The Inside Track).

Now, any commuter can use any connected device to create an alert for any line we cover!

This expansion is especially helpful beca!use commuters can now enrich their alerts in two new ways:

  1. Category – Pick from a list of known problems
  2. Geo-location – It’s always important to know what the issue is…but now we capture where.

Clever Commute uses 1 and 2 above to improve the overall experience.
We also allow users of  
The Inside Track to see and leverage this data (e.g., show/hide various categories, and see the alerts on a map).

Cool: Regardless of whether you use an iPhone, iPad, Andriod or other, you can use this neat trick to launch this new feature from your device’s desktop (just as you’d do with an app).

User guide to creating an alert:

4 fields

  1. E-mail address – We use that to check if you are a Clever Commuter. It will NOT be shared with the commuters (or anyone else).
  2. Select the commuters you want to reach. 99% of the time, this is your train/bus line
  3. Select a category – Self-explanatory
  4. Share your message – You can find a link to our best practices on that page…or right here


  • As you can imagine, messages with location info are generally more helpful than those without.
  • Check the box for T&C…and you are all set!


Bad Commute on September 5, 2013 – chronology

September 5th, 2013  |  Published in announcements, LIRR, NJT, press

Signal problems were the stated cause of a bad commute on both NJ Transit and LIRR.

Oldest entries at the bottom [see “Published on” for the as-of time of this post]

Carrier Route Timestamp Comment
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 18:37:02 The late 545 left penn approx 620 we just got to secaucus seats available (06:37 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Gladstone & Morristown Lines 2013-09-05 18:36:08 No problems at hoboken (06:36 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Main & Bergen County Lines 2013-09-05 18:35:19 629 still at sec. At 633. No word how long were waiting here (06:35 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 18:29:08 601 from NWK left at 628. Seats available. (06:29 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Main & Bergen County Lines 2013-09-05 18:20:09 Hoboken not crowded. Seems best bet for main/Bergen riders (06:20 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Montclair-Boonton Line 2013-09-05 18:19:03 6.08 from NYP left at 6.15. NYP is packed, phone networks overloaded (06:19 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Montclair-Boonton Line 2013-09-05 18:16:03 Just got on the 6:27 from Hobokem. No cross-honoring on. PATH. (06:16 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Gladstone & Morristown Lines 2013-09-05 18:14:29 5:50 MTD Dover packed, still in station, no announcements (06:14 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 18:14:08 5:41 NEC left about 30 mins late. Just arrived at sec (6:14 (06:14 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Montclair-Boonton Line 2013-09-05 18:14:02 Decamp cross honoring (06:14 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 18:10:06 Trn 3171 NYP NEW BRUNSWICK track 10 (06:10 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) North Jersey Coast Line 2013-09-05 18:08:25 NEC rider validates what njt website says – delays of 20-30 out of NYP. Trains exiting Hoboken are fine. (06:08 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 18:05:19 3867 semi express to Trenton still boarding at Nwk (6:04), has stop signal from east bound amtrak (06:05 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 18:03:05 Apparent Signal prob in newark. All trains westbound stopped. (06:03 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 17:59:02 5:23 south amboy just getting to newark (05:59 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Raritan Valley Line 2013-09-05 17:55:39 update-continued NYP is crowded with delayed trains. Hoboken is fine. Avoid trains which transfer at Newark due to crowds there (05:55 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) North Jersey Coast Line 2013-09-05 17:49:06 Signal problems, mechanical problems causing delays (05:49 PM)
DeCamp 33 & 66 2013-09-05 17:48:10 5:35 66x just arrived (05:48 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 17:45:29 5:12 from NY just boarded. Doors closed. Train hasn’t left Penn. Its 5:39 (05:45 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) North Jersey Coast Line 2013-09-05 17:38:09 Chaos at Newark Penn Station (05:38 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Gladstone & Morristown Lines 2013-09-05 17:34:07 NJT Alerts says bus is xhonoring but buses in PABT aren’t. Say they haven’t heard from NJT (05:34 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 17:33:03 4:54 to JA just reached Newark no seats available (05:33 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Babylon Branch 2013-09-05 17:23:07 LIRR website says up to 20 min delays, all lines (05:23 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Main & Bergen County Lines 2013-09-05 17:18:07 Trains in hoboken are on schedule (05:18 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Port Jefferson Branch 2013-09-05 16:59:08 Many cancellations and track changes at NYP (04:59 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Port Jefferson Branch 2013-09-05 16:55:27 Major delays and cancellations – Signal problems on the Queens side of the tunnels (04:55 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Ronkonkoma Branch 2013-09-05 16:50:24 Track changes at Penn. Looks like no 13 or 14 (04:50 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Pascack Valley Line 2013-09-05 16:33:23 Reconsider using NYP tonight. The next 5 trains on the board (NEC/NJCL) are all cancelled or delayed.  (04:33 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Ronkonkoma Branch 2013-09-05 16:28:12 Eastbound LIRR delays this PM – signal issues on the Queens side of the East River. MTA estimates complete repairs by approx 6:15 PM (04:28 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Ronkonkoma Branch 2013-09-05 16:20:26 Repairs will take 2 hours (04:20 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Gladstone & Morristown Lines 2013-09-05 16:13:10 LIRR has signal problems. NJT departureboard shows some delays/Standby.  (04:13 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Northeast Corridor Line 2013-09-05 16:13:03 Delays at NYP (04:13 PM)
NJ Transit Train (NJTT) Gladstone & Morristown Lines 2013-09-05 16:03:10 All trains at Penn Station on standby due to signal problems between Sunnyside Yard Queens and Penn St. Major crowding starting. (04:03 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Port Washington Branch 2013-09-05 16:03:09 UPDATE: PW line WESTBOUND has the problem. No reported issue with EASTBOUND (04:03 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Ronkonkoma Branch 2013-09-05 16:01:03 Problems brewing service suspended in and out of pen (04:01 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Montauk Branch 2013-09-05 16:00:44 Problems brewing service suspended in and out of pen (04:00 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Ronkonkoma Branch 2013-09-05 15:57:16 Service suspended between Jam and NYP – signal problems. Also suspended between Woodside and Penn on the Port Washington Branch (03:57 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Babylon Branch 2013-09-05 15:54:08 Get ready for a crazy commute. Service suspended between Penn and Jamaica (03:54 PM)
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Ronkonkoma Branch 2013-09-05 15:53:09 Lirr reporting Penn to Jamaica is suspended (03:53 PM)

Back to school 2013 – A transformational time for Clever Commute

August 30th, 2013  |  Published in announcements, Inside Track


  • In August 2013, we added more features to Clever Commute than in any other month
    (with geo-location and message categorization topping the list)
  • Recent changes take us well-beyond our roots of “crowdsourced e-mail”
  • Admittedly, our communication about these changes could have been better…and for that I apologize
  • We hope we did not frustrate anyone…since our goal is to be your commuting partner for a long time to come

This post contains

  1. What is going on (context)
  2. Introducing The Inside Track – our premium solution
  3. A note on “send me my track number”
  4. An attempt to articulate the 472 recent features and fixes we added
  5. Summary (logistics, links, promotions, comments, feedback)

1. What is going on (context)

One of the more-visible recent changes was to the format of the e-mails containing user-generated content.
We moved the “payload” from the subject to the body of the mail. We also added keyword highlighting and other format changes…in order to make the prose both easier-to-find and easier-to-read. We are getting feedback from some commuters to revert to the old way. I totally understand that sentiment…but I need you to understand the rationale for this change. Please read on.

In 2006, Clever Commute started as 5 guys sharing Blackberry e-mails about problems on the smallest train line in NJ Transit’s portfolio. However, to accommodate this, I built a technical and cultural infrastructure which could “scale up” beyond the Montclair line….and it did. Over time, membership and message volume grew (a lot of you learned about CC from this NY Times article).

With that growth came an increase in costs: web hosting and monitoring, e-mail delivery, IT support and development, etc.

We asked for donations…and appreciate that small group who consistently give. However, it’s not enough.

We also incorporated a sponsorship model…and we enjoy some amazing relationships with top-tier advertisers. In order to attract and retain these clients, we need to ensure that their messages are being seen by the commuters.

Much of the feedback we heard this week was along these lines:  “now I need to open the mail in order to see the commuter alert”. Clever Commute has two reactions to this feedback
(1) the ability to see the entire message in the subject line was never universal. It depended on a few factors such as your smartphone and the layout of the original “alert” message
(2) if it is the case that the sponsor’s payload is only found in the body of an unopened e-mail….then we are not providing value to our underwriters.

So to be clear: the advertising model is a key driver to the e-mail format change. Now, when you open the “alert” message, you also see the sponsor’s ad. We think that’s a fair way to run a free system…and many of you agree.

2. Introducing The Inside Track – our premium solution.

8 years in, we created The Inside Track -a subscription-based, premium service. One of the dozens of features you get is the the legacy e-mail format (message-in-the-subject) . Maybe you feel strongly enough about this one capability that you’d subscribe to The Inside Track simply for that.  However, we think you deserve more…so please check out the matrix of everything we give you when you subscribe. The simplest way to think about our new approach is that the free service will eventually (only) include: e-mail based commuter-generated content from riders on your line. Virtually everything else we offer is being migrated to the premium service.

Therefore The Inside Track currently includes (a) “features you are familiar with” (get-away day advice, schedule changes, cross-line sharing, heads-up on events and issues which will impact your commute)
…as well as (b) some NEW remarkable enhancements (e.g., social/geo/technical features – more on this below).

Our premium service costs $3.99/month for NJ Transit riders and $2.99/month for LIRR/MNR (but we discount it if you go with an annual plan. You also get 30 days free).
But here is something to think about: you probably spend $3,000-4,000 a year (more?) on commuting. So it’s reasonable to pay “cup-of-coffee” money monthly for The Inside Track, which delivers value daily.

3. A note on “send me my track number” [now part of The Inside Track]

We totally understand that this feature needs to be fast in order to be useful. Not only must the e-mails be latency-free…but you also want text message-based delivery. And of course, these messages need to be in sync with all the schedule changes. For these reasons, this feature is now a component of  The Inside TrackYes…you can now get track numbers as text messages. You can also pause/resume when you travel or are on vacation.  A few quick notes for riders on each of the major services:

  • NJ Transit – you have been using and enjoying this new approach for months now
  • Metro North  – This week has demonstrated the challenge…and for that reason, we have decommissioned the legacy approach
  • LIRR – For now, your transit provider only supplies us with a datafeed for two lines: Port Washington and West Hempstead.  When they expand this program, we’ll be thrilled to support it more than just these 2 lines.

4. An attempt to articulate the 472+ recent features and fixes we put in

Our service is evolving so quickly that we are having trouble keeping our website up-to-date (by the way, did you notice that we totally overhauled our web site?). While this page is the best list of everything you get when you subscribe to The Inside Track. Here are is some hot news:

(a) Message Categorization

  • Our technology now reads each inbound e-mail message …and attempts to add a category based on the content
  • Alternatively, instead of submitting your alert via e-mail, you can now use The Inside Track‘s new “create-an-alert” interface  (web page)…and add a proper category yourself
  • Of course, now that messages have categories, you can opt-in/opt-out of the various categories to suite your preferences
    (yes…you can effectively tell Clever Commute: “do not send me messages about ______”)

(b) Geo Location – Yes! When alerts are created using The Inside Track, we now capture the physical location of the issue (based on the location of the user.) Opt-in, of course.
We are extremely energized by this development…and know that you will be thrilled to see the output (currently in beta).

(c) All of your alerts in one place [Beta for LIRR] – LIRR and Metro North riders no longer need to subscribe to e-mail based alerts from MTA. Rather, your membership in The Inside Track ensures that you will receive one consolidated stream of content (“official” alerts from LIRR/MNR…as well as user-generated info from your fellow commuters). As a result, you have one less thing to manage…with these benefits

  • The source of each message is clearly displayed (e.g., LIRR vs “commuter”), yet both have the same layout / look-and-feel (color-coding / enhanced formatting for readability)
  • You can filter both message types by category of the content (see above)
  • improved time-of-day and day-of-week control of your messages….with snooze and pause/restart

Special note for NJT riders: we are still evaluating the relative merits of doing this for you.

5. Summary (Logistics, links, promotions, comments, feedback)

  • If you have “track-record” of sharing quality info on Clever Commute (good feedback from your peers), then contact us for a free membership to The Inside Track
  • Similarly, if you are in career transition (e..g, unemployed) or in your first year of work, then contact us for a freebie as well
  • After Labor Day, we will be running a promotion in order to introduce people to The Inside Track
  • My inbox is always open for your feedback. The simplest way to reach out is via the Contact Us feature of the site.
  • More info about The Inside TrackLanding page, list of features, frequently-asked questions.