People helping people as they get from here to there

community updates

New Haven Line – How are we doing?

February 3rd, 2011  |  Published in announcements, community updates, MNR

In February 2011, in the middle of an especially rough stretch for the commuters, I asked

(1) message volume – does this service generate “too much” mail for you?
(2) message content
is it helpful to know
– if trains are crowded?
– if the heat is on?

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback. 40 people wrote back…and I plan to reply to each of you…even if it’s just to say “thanks”
The replies I got were thoughtful and the tone was constructive. I really appreciate it.

The stats are below..but I also want to address a few “themes” / good ideas I also received

  • At least for the next month or so, service on this line will be a challenge…so this is “the new normal”. You should not be surprised if a train is 5-10 minutes late. Certainly, context matters…but always ask yourself “am I sharing something that will help my fellow commuter plan their trip?”
  • More than one person commented that you should NOT send a mail to say things are OK…and I agree. if you’ve never seen our best practices (AKA “rules of the road”), please do…as  this one is a guiding principle for Clever Commute (see
  • You want new features (prioritization of messages…make messages more custom to your commute…time of day).
    Believe me, I want to give those to you. But I just do not have the resources to do that now…and I likely can not do that in a free service.
    Message volume systemwide is through the roof…and we pay for that. Yes, advertisers offset some of the expense…but we need more revenue.
    If you have been thinking about donating to Clever Commute…now is a good time.A really good time.
  • Finally, we hear people asking if Clever Commute can take a role in advocating on behalf of the commuters. My reply is to check out the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council (
    They are doing great things on your behalf.

The info below is not scientific…but it does imply that we are generally hitting the mark. This should not really be interpreted as a mandate to change anything…but it is a level of transparency…which I think we all appreciate.
It’s also a rather a reminder that we each have different tolerances when it comes to information…and we need to continue to be sensitive to that.

I would advise you to take matters into your own hands and use the tools that you do have.

  • Think about building e-mail filters on “your” side (e.g., mails containing “SRO” can be sent to the trash if you don’t want them).
  • Consider using our mobile app (
  • Check out our Twitter feeds ( The feeds need an upgrade…but they WILL be back soon. Sign up now so you are read.

So without further ado:

Volume / Amount of messages
21 said “it’s OK”…at least for now
14 clearly said “we are getting too much mail”
…but 5 did not address it in their replies to us

Crowds / SRO
16 said they like to know about crowds
11 said “do not send SRO mails”
…but 13 did not address it in their replies to us

15 said they do want to know about heat on the trains
13 said they do NOT want to hear about it
…but 12 did not address it in their replies to us

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

What’s new at Clever Commute? Plenty!

January 12th, 2010  |  Published in community updates

Clever Commute provides a way for commuters to use their smartphones to help each other by sharing real-time alerts & updates with fellow travelers.
It started with a handful of commuters here in NJ…and has now become a part of the fabric of the daily commute in the top commuting markets.

  • Now serving CHICAGO…in addition to serving all of the NY metro area and Boston
  • NYC subways…did you know that 40% of the subway is above ground? Wireless is coming to the MTA…and people are signing up for our service!
  • What track is my train on? A new free feature and a great stress-reliever for riders of Metro North or NJ Transit Trains
  • Proof positive: We have now amassed over 130 recent examples where Clever Commuter data was better and faster than anything else out there
  • An incredible place to advertise
    – Local business can use our new “self-serve” model to create a local campaign. (
    – Large advertisers like the New York Knicks, Carnegie Hall, and Ann Taylor get full service.
    Our advertisers kit:
  • An army of commuters: We are nearing the 10,000 member mark…and literally growing every day
  • A proven, 2-pronged business model:
    – keep it free for commuters via non-intrusive relevant advertising
    Serve as the authoritative source of real-time data about the commute. (we license a datafeed to transit / news agencies)

Want to learn more about this exciting, patent-pending innovation? We’d love to talk to potential strategic partners, the press, and advertisers.

Joshua Crandall (Founder / CEO)
joshua – dot – crandall at clevercommute dot com
About us:

What a day – The Sunday Star Ledger!

August 16th, 2009  |  Published in announcements, community updates

We are thrilled to share a link to a Clever Commute story from NJ’s largest newspaper – The Star Ledger. And…it’s the Sunday edition!

We are featured prominently on page 1 of the NJ section.

It’s been a great day…with lots and lots of new people signing up. Welcome aboard!

“Too much e-mail”?…Not from us ;)

July 22nd, 2009  |  Published in announcements, community updates, NJT

A few weeks back, we told you about a new feature that would actively seek to find and eliminate duplicate messages in the Clever Commute system.

We continue to phase it in…but in case you are interested, here is an example from today’s commute (on NJ Transit Northeast Corridor Line – the largest commuter rail line in North America)

6:55 AM
HAMLTN 6:36 to NYP is now 14 minutes late. NJT says 18 minutes due to mech failure. Empty train blew by the station 3 minutes ago.

6:56 AM
646 out of PJ 18 minutes late

As you’d expect…the 6:55 message was sent along to the Clever Commuters…and the 6:56 message was suppressed.

Just one more example of how we are continually working to make Clever Commute better.

How we manage duplicate messages

July 6th, 2009  |  Published in announcements, community updates

Here is how it works:

If user A tries to Send an alert which is similar to a previous messge from user B” the app will pop-up a message with details of B’s message to expain that they are potentially sending a duplicate.

User A then has 3 choices

  1. Edit their message…and therefore differentiate it from the one sent by user B
    (an then re-send)
  2. Cancel their message…since the one sent by user B suffices
  3. Send the message as-is

Our intent here is to fully leverage the wisdom of the crowd…while also being sensitive to the amount of data you get.

We certainly don’t mean to frustrate anyone….or fail to share relevant information.

But also want you to understand that it is very difficult for technology to determine true duplicates. Our approach will never be perfect. However, as time goes by, we “tune the dials” to improve the features and richness of this algorithm.


A quick note re: “Too much mail”

June 16th, 2009  |  Published in announcements, community updates

Some Clever Commute communities are experiencing what we call “a good problem” as follows: when there is an issue, we may see several mails which effectively share the same update.

Here at Clever Commute, we’ve anticipated this challenge…and have a solution at the ready. We’ll be rolling it out in the next week or so, but here is an overview:

Our technology will seek to screen out redundant messages sent within a pre-defined timeframe. If YOUR message does not get sent to your fellow commuters…we’ll let you know that. Don’t despair! If (after seeing posts from your fellow commuters) you feel that you STILL have something unique to add, we’ll have a way for that to happen

We’ll be sharing more info soon…but we just wanted to let you know that we saw this day coming…and we are “on the case”

Yet ANOTHER free service – Track Number Announcements

June 4th, 2009  |  Published in announcements, community updates

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
  • 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

A video that explains it

Clever Commute TV – can you help us grow?

June 2nd, 2009  |  Published in community updates, promotion

Asking via e-mail and blog is one way…but maybe you’d like to see a video?

About Tuesday Night on NJT (with observations for all)

May 7th, 2009  |  Published in announcements, community updates

It was a terrible night for NJ riders.

Overall, the Clever Commuters did a great job of helping each other. Our systems handled the volume well…and lots of new people have signed up. Overall – we broke all records.

What can I say when I see thousands of strangers helping each other? It’s awesome to experience this model working…and I am thrilled about the potential.

In the spirit of further improvement, I wanted to share ideas in the context of Tuesday night. I’ll try to frame them as “do’s” (to avoid focus on the negatives)…but i’ll be explicit where needed.

Send your messages to Clever Commute from the e-mail address you used when you signed up.
You’d be surprised how many messages came from people’s “other” account…and we could NOT automatically send those because only recognized addresses may send to the list

Share information (don’t ask for it).
We know you want to know. But an “ask” model will not work if 1,000’s of commuters each ask questions of 1,000’s of commuters.

Put your message in the subject line of your e-mail.  (use the body only if you need to)
That makes it easy and good for your fellow riders as well as our advertisers. You have about 140 characters to use….you’d be amazed what you could fit there
Advertise with us
With thousands of riders and so many messages sent, we have a great platform with excess capacity. We have great rates…and the ability to target your audience in several great ways (e.g., AM/PM). We are aggressively pursuing deals of all size. Here is our ad kit
Yes…you CAN advertise to just your line…at rates that will pleasantly suprise you. Rates go down as you advertise to larger Clever Commuter audiences

Help us grow
Please tell your friends, colleagues, co-workers, neighbors about Clever Commute. I’m thrilled at the growth to date…but increasingly concerned about the future if we don’t “scale up”. We have some great ideas / enhancement in the pipeline…but we need more zeros on our numbers in order to get true economies of scale from them.

I think that’s it for now. My mailbox is always open. Let’s grow and get some new sponsors.


Conductor Josh