A Serious Game to Train Supply Chain Professionals

“We wargame because we must. There are certain warfare problems that only gaming can illuminate.” – Robert Rubel, Professor Emeritus, Naval Warfare Studies, U.S. Naval War College (LinkeIn profile – https://www.linkedin.com/pub/robert-rubel/11/80b/549)

Military organizations have been using games to train their officers and predict possible outcomes of future battles since the Prussian Army began using the game “Kriegsspiel” some 200 years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriegsspiel_(wargame)). This shouldn’t be surprising if we accept the notion that games are a biological adaptation in mammals to gain survival skills. In nature, play is the activity of practicing survival skills in low-urgency situations that can then used in high-urgency, life-and-death situations. This is exactly the way the military uses wargames.

Could we use games to explore different supply chain options, just as the military uses games to explore different strategies? Could a supply chain game show us the best supply chain solutions the same way wargames show the best strategies? If so, what would that supply chain game look like?

Wargames are Serious Games

Let’s start by noting that there are two kinds of games: games designed for learning real-world skills – serious games; and games designed for having fun – entertainment games. Entertainment games are about fun, not about making us more skilled. And as a result, game design techniques used for entertainment games and for serious games differ in significant ways.

This article highlights some valuable techniques learned from a well established category of serious games – wargames. It shows how these same techniques can be applied to create a serious game for educating and training supply chain professionals.

Philip Sabin, is Professor of Strategic Studies in the War Studies Department of King’s College, London UK. In his book Simulating War (2014, Bloomsbury Publishing, http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/warstudies/people/professors/sabin/simwar.aspx) he explores using wargames as teaching tools and he describes effective techniques employed by wargames.

He explains wargames began as complex board games. And many of them still are. The game board they use is a map, and the game pieces are military units of different sizes and capabilities that are moved about on the map in order to achieve certain objectives. An example of such a game is shown in the picture at the top.

Professor Sabin prefers these board games when teaching strategy to students and he claims they’re better learning tools than video games (Simulating War, pg. 23). Many of these board games have been digitized to make them more convenient, but they still work like the original games. The main features of these games are: 1) their data is highly realistic and taken from the real world; 2) they have little or no automation so players have to manually move every piece in the game; and 3) the rules can be redesigned by the game players.

Reality vs Playability in Games

The entertainment industry uses history as a theme for their games, but wargames seek to literally replicate and recreate history. So the data used in wargames for terrain, logistics, weapons capabilities, etc. needs to be as accurate as possible. The games are accurate enough to either help decision makers get an understanding of where and how future conflicts might develop, or help historians replicate and understand why past conflicts happened as they did.

“The war with Japan had been re-enacted in the game rooms here by so many people and in so many different ways that nothing that happened during the war was a surprise – absolutely nothing except the Kamikaze tactics towards the end of the war; we had not visualized those.”  US Admiral Chester Nimitz (Simulating War, pg. 58)

Such realism is lacking in entertainment games, and yet it’s a crucial element for learning real-world skills. Here is why: There’s a memory process called “chunking” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chunking_(psychology)) that takes place when we learn. It is basically a way for our brains to recall vast amounts of information. When the brain sees different bits of data that form a recognizable pattern, it groups them all together as one piece of information — a chunk of information.

For example, If you were shown the letters “hlbramdayatlailtme” for 3 seconds, and then asked to recall them, you would probably have a difficult time doing so. But if the letters were organized into a recognizable pattern such as the sentence, “Mary had a little lamb”, it would be easy to recall the letters because you have “chunked” thousands of patterns (sentences) related to the English language, and that improves your memory recall if you see a pattern you know.

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Utica Comets 2 @ Grand Rapids 3 in OT. Tied Up 2-2; Off to Utica to Decide

The Western Conference Finals have now turned into a best-of-three series after the Utica Comets were defeated 3-2 by the Grand Rapids Griffins in the first overtime game of the series on Friday night at The Van Andel Arena.

Cory Conacher (1-0-1) has found his scoring touch and has now netted goals in back-to-back games. Alex Friesen (1-0-1) also found the back of the net on the power play for his fourth goal of the postseason. The Comets power play went 1-for-4 on the evening, and has now converted on four of their last 12 power-play chances after snapping a 1-for-28 funk.

“We played great tonight,” said Head Coach Travis Green. “We don’t have to change a lot. We have to come out and play another great 60 minutes (in Game 5).”

The power play continued to produce results for the Griffins as they opened up the scoring 5:48 into the second period. Dylan Larkin tallied his second assist of the postseason and his fourth point in four games after making a dish through the crease to Xavier Ouellet who pounded the puck in on the open side of the net. Ouellet’s go-ahead goal was his second in just as many games against the Comets.

Cory Conacher
Cory Conacher

Play turned back the other way once the Comets had their second power play of the night and Friesen was able to outwork two Griffins defensemen. Once he broke free, Friesen slid in towards the high slot and spiked it past Thomas McCollum’s left leg pad to tie the game up at one a piece. Sven Baertschi tallied the only assist on the play for his fourth point in two games.

The Comets didn’t stop there as Conacher tallied his second goal in as many games after a pass to the center slot from Alexandre Grenier led to a shot that passed under McCollum’s right arm for the 2-1 lead at the 16:42 mark of the second period. Cal O’Reilly also had a hand in on the play as he tallied his fifth assist of the series, and extended his point streak to four games.

The Griffins eventually found the equalizer just past the five-minute mark in to the third period. With Brian Lashoff at the blue line, the defensemen started a nice give-and-go play by feeding it to Andreas Athanasiou on the right wing. Athanasiou then quickly passed it to the front of the net where Anthony Mantha smacked it past Markstrom to make it 2-2.

An overtime period was necessary but the Griffins came out on top at 5:05 after Athanasiou broke away and beat Markstrom after he deked his way to the left side of the net. Athanasiou’s second point of the night put the game away with a final score of 3-2.

“We played well again tonight,” said Cal O’Reilly. “We did what we wanted to do. A few breakdowns cost us the game tonight.”

The Comets and the Griffins will wrap up their time at Van Andel Arena this Sunday as the two teams meet at 5 p.m. for Game 5 before heading back to Utica for Game 6 and 7*.

Notes: The Comets have now played 16 playoff games…Six of which were decided in overtime…The Comets possess a record of 3-3 in playoff overtimes games…The Comets have played nine periods of OT in the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs.

*If necessary

Utica Comets 4 over Grand Rapids Griffins; Series 2-1 Utica; Sven Baertschi and Marstrom Star

A natural hat-trick a bounce back 40-save performance from Jacob Markstrom got the job done, as the Utica Comets defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins 4-1 Thursday night at the Van Andel Arena. The win has now given the Comets a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Sven Baertschi (3-0-3) scored his second hat trick of the year after recording his first earlier this year on February 10th with his prior team, the Adirondack Flames. Cory Conacher (1-0-1) also netted a goal for his second of the postseason. Jacob Markstrom recorded his first assist as a Utica Comet on top of stopping 40 of the 41 shots he faced.

“I liked Sven’s play tonight,” said Comets Head Coach Travis Green. “He was around the puck and carried the puck all night. When he carries the puck I know he’s playing well.”

After a scoreless first period, Sven Baertschi opened up the scoring with his first goal of the night just past the three-minute mark in the second stanza. Will Acton made an excellent heads up play in his first game back since March 21st, with a pass to Baertschi who met the puck at the blue line. Baertschi just had enough room to squeeze in past the defender and snapped off a shot that ripped past the left leg pad of Tom McCollum to give the Comets their first of the night. Wacey Hamilton recorded the secondary assist.

Baertschi’s next goal resulted from a goaltender interference penalty called on Xavier Ouellet for tripping up Markstrom behind his net. At 9:17 the Comets scored their third power-play goal of the series after Cal O’Reilly slid the puck across the center slot to Baertschi who ripped home the one-timer to make it a 2-0 game. Bobby Sanguinetti also made his way on to the scorer’s sheet for his seventh assist of the postseason.

Just over two minutes later, Baertschi’s natural hat-trick and Jake Virtanen’s first professional point became a reality after Virtanen shot the puck into McCollum’s chest and Baertschi backhanded the rebound for the 3-0 lead. Alex Friesen was also credited with an assist on the play.

Jacob Markstrom
Jacob Markstrom

Baertschi’s hat-trick was the first allowed in the playoffs by Grand Rapids in eight years and the first allowed at home in 13 years. His hat trick was the third time the feat has been achieved in Comets franchise history and the first in the playoffs.

It wasn’t until the Griffins third power-play attempt of the night when they finally solved Markstrom just past the four-minute mark into the third period. Jeff Hoggan set up a similar play to the Comets second goal after dishing a pass to the high center slot to Marek Tvrdon who then slapped it towards Markstrom and through the pads to make it a 3-1 game.

The Comets added one last goal to the scoreboard with less than five minutes left in the game as Cory Conacher raced in on the left wing and drove the puck into the net before running into the right goal post and causing a disturbance in the crease. Peter Andersson recorded the primary assist while Markstrom recorded the secondary point for his first assist in a Comets sweater.

With a win in Game 3 and the series lead, the Comets have now reclaimed home-ice advantage if necessary. Before heading back to The Utica Memorial Auditorium, the Comets have two games remaining in Grand Rapids with Game 4 slated for Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Van Andel Arena.



Sounds  like something from the Koch Brothers or the Bush Family?
Nope, right out of our Democratic President, Barack Obama.
Let’s make sense out of nonsense!

With help from Brooklyn Senator Chuck Schumer,
we have assembled a virtual armada of information.
Other experts included like political economist, professor, author, and political commentator Robert Reich.

This event is open to all Americans, our members and guests.  We welcome you all to come and interact with fellow Americans in the region and engage in American political discussions.  We will give a brief presentation on a current topic particularly where the issue stands in the Washington political discourse.  Join us to formalize our viewpoint as Americans living abroad before our summer holiday.  The next Political Wine is scheduled for October.

Political Wine

03 June (last one before summer holiday!) / 18h30 – 20h00

Price: order at least 1 drink at the bar.

La Canne à Sucre / Sports 11

11 promenade des Anglais 06000 NICE


Parking: Palais de la Méditerranée or Palais Masséna

Public Transport: several bus lines serve bus stops: Congrès/Joffre, Grimaldi, Congrès Promenade (all in walking distance)

There is no formal entry fee to participate except to support our host, La Canne à Sucre, by ordering 1 drink minimum.  To help DAF – Riviera coordinate this event, we ask that you reply to this e-mail as an RSVP – even if you are a ‘maybe‘!

This message is paid for by the Democratic Party Committee Abroad

Democrats Abroad

PO Box 15130
Washington, DC 20003
United States

Telephone: +1-202-621-2085 +1-202-621-2085

Chris Kirk edges Jordan Spieth to win Crowne Plaza Invitational At Colonial In Fort Worth

With a closing 4-under 66, Chris Kirk finished one shot ahead of Masters champion Jordan Spieth, playing partner Brandt Snedeker and Jason Bohn.

Chris Kirk was prepared to need a putt for a playoff at the Crowne Plaza Invitational Colonial.

No extra holes were necessary Sunday for Kirk to get his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Kirk made up for an errant tee shot at No. 18 with a par-saving and winning 7-foot putt after playing partner Brandt Snedeker’s birdie try slid by the hole.

“My first three wins on tour have all been little tap-ins on the last hole,” Kirk said. “So to step up and make a putt that I knew was to win is something I’ll never forget.”

With his closing 4-under 66, Kirk got to 12-under 268, one ahead of Snedeker, local Masters champion Jordan Spieth and Jason Bohn.

Bohn had a 63 that included six consecutive birdies on the front nine. Spieth shot 65, with a near-birdie that became a bogey at the par-3 16th hole.

When Kirk got in trouble at No. 18, Bohn and Spieth went to the nearby No. 1 tee and were hitting balls in preparation for a potential playoff. Spieth was already back near the green when Kirk got ready to putt.

Kirk hooked his tee shot at No. 18 into the left rough, then hit his approach from 155 yards over the green. A nice chip set up the winning putt after Snedeker’s miss from 12 feet after a similar tee shot to finish a 67.


Utica Comets 2 Drop To Grand Rapids Griffins 4; Amm Tied Up 1-1

The Western Conference Finals are now all tied up at one game apiece after the Utica Comets dropped Game 2 to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Monday night at The Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Brendan Gaunce (1-1-2) (at top) and Sven Baertshci (1-0-1) found the only Comets goals of the night with two assists going to Cal O’Reilly (0-2-2).

Dylan Larkin found his first professional goal in his second professional game after Andreas Anthanasiou popped the puck from behind the net directly into the center slot. Larkin didn’t hesitate as he rocketed the shot past Jacob Markstrom’s glove hand for the 1-0 lead with five minutes left in the first period.

It was all Larkin again just 3:27 later after a defensive mistake allowed him to take a harmless looking shot from just above the left circle. Markstrom made the initial save but as the puck hit his leg pad it popped up and over and crossed the goal line to give the Griffins the 2-0 lead, something the Comets had done just a night earlier.

The Griffins doubled their lead in the second period with two power-play goals from both Teemu Pulkkinen and Tyler Bertuzzi, the Griffins top two goal-scorers this postseason. Their first came at 14:12 following a slashing minor from Comets center Wacey Hamilton. A hiccup in the Comets defensive zone left the puck free in the slot as Pulkkinen picked it up and ripped it short side for the 3-0 lead and his league-leading 14th goal of the postseason.

Sven Baertshci
Sven Baertshci

Their second power-play goal and their fourth overall saw Bertuzzi rip a shot off to the right of the slot and through the legs of Markstrom to make it 4-0 before heading into the third period.

Joacim Eriksson made his first postseason appearance for the Comets as he replaced Jacob Markstrom for the start of the third period. The Swedish goaltender only face two shots from the Griffins the entire third period.

The Griffins made things a little bit easier on the Comets after taking two consecutive delay of game penalties at the end of the third period. With less than six minutes left Bobby Sanguinetti was able to keep the puck inside the blue line followed by a dish back to O’Reilly on the boards. With a wide-open Gaunce in the center slot, O’Reilly fed it across to the middle and Gaunce rocketed it home for the power play goal and his fourth of the postseason to make it a 4-1 game.

Cal O’Reilly
Cal O’Reilly

With only 2:30 left in the game, the Comets found their second power-play goal after a nice set up in the crease from both Gaunce and O’Reilly. Baertschi received the puck to the right of McCollum and popped it past him to make it a final score of 4-2.

Special teams on both sides of the ice did some work on Monday night with a total of four power-play goals.

The series now shifts to Grand Rapids, Michigan as the two teams will play Games 3, 4, and 5 at the Van Andel Arena starting on Thursday night.

Utica Comets 2 vs; Grand Rapids Griffins 1; Utica Leads Series 1-0

The Utica Comets held the high-powered Grand Rapids Griffins offense to just one goal, just the second time that feat has been accomplished this postseason, and claimed a 2-1 Game 1 victory at The Utica Memorial Auditorium Sunday night.

Nicklas Jensen (1-0-1) ‘picture above)and Brandon DeFazio (1-0-1) both tallied their second goals of the postseason as they pushed the Comets over the Griffins to take the 1-0 series lead.

Brandon Defazio
Brandon Defazio

They say that Game 1 of a series usually sets the tone and the Comets attempted to set it pretty quickly as Nicklas Jensen found the top corner of the mesh just 35 seconds into the opening period. After obtaining the puck from Peter Andersson, Jensen lifted the puck at an angle that was just awkward enough to whiz past Tom McCollum’s shoulder to give the Comets the 1-0 lead. Cal O’Reilly tallied the secondary assist for his tenth of the postseason.

The Comets put another goal up on the board a little over 10 minutes later after Brandon DeFazio popped an innocent looking shot on net that just trickled past McCollum’s leg and over the goal line to make it a 2-0 game. Both Wacey Hamilton and Adam Clendening received assists on the play.

A well planned faceoff and a Comets penalty is all it took for the Griffins to find their first of the night with a little less than four minutes left in the first period. Teemu Pulkkinen set up the play with a pass to Nathan Paetsch at the blue line. Paetsch then shot it to the left of the net and the puck met Mark Zengerle’s stick prior to popping into the net for the power-play goal.

The Comets learned from their lesson and stayed out of the penalty box the rest of the way as they held the Griffins off through the two remaining periods. En route to their 2-1 victory the Comets took control of shots on goal with a total of 31 compared to the Griffins 26 on Jacob Markstrom, their second-lowest total of shots on net in the postseason. (24 shots on May 13th vs Rockford)

Jacob Markstrom
Jacob Markstrom

The third round series continues Monday night at The AUD as the Comets and Griffins will partake in Game 2 before shifting the series to Grand Rapids, Michigan for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if required)

How transit agencies are trying to attract millennial riders

Millennials — defined as people between the ages of 18 and 34 — are members of the largest and most diverse generation in American history. Their adroitness at using technology and their predisposition for living in urban neighborhoods and taking a train or bus to get around is already influencing trends in the transportation field. That’s what the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) concluded in its 2014 report, “Millennials & Mobility: Understanding the Millennial Mindset.” The study examined what is driving the millennial generation’s transportation choices, what will drive those choices in the future, and the opportunities for the transit industry to capitalize on those choices.

The reasons behind millennials’ transportation decisions are pragmatic: They ride trains and buses primarily for convenience and to save money. At the same time, they have high expectations for the transit services they use: 61 percent want to see more reliable systems; 55 percent expect real-time updates and wireless Internet service wherever they go; and 44 percent want a more user-friendly travel experience over the next decade.

Other studies have reached similar conclusions. In October 2014, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) Education Fund concluded in its “Millennials in Motion” report that millennials’ shift away from driving cars over the past 10 years is likely to continue. Census data indicate that the share of 16- to 24-year-olds who drive to work declined by 1.5 percentage points between 2006 and 2013, while the percentage of young people getting to work by public transportation, foot or bicycle increased.

A love affair with cars? Not so much

Also last year, Transportation for America — a division of the nonprofit Smart Growth America coalition — and The Rockefeller Foundation sponsored a survey that found a majority of millennials want access to public transportation options so they don’t have to rely so much on owning and driving a car. More than half — 54 percent — of those surveyed said they would consider moving to another city if it offered better options for transit; 66 percent said having access to high-quality transportation is one of their top three criteria when deciding where to live.

The results spoke to the incentive for cities to invest in transit networks as a way to attract and retain a younger workforce, says David Goldberg, communications director for Transportation for America and vice president of strategy for Smart Growth America.

Employers are starting to act on millennials’ preferences, Goldberg says, noting recent announcements by major corporations such as Marriott International and State Farm Insurance that are moving major operations to vibrant urban locations that offer easy access to transit systems.

“Employers are looking to set up in places where the talented millennials want to be,” he says. “The millennials are a great target market for transit agencies. They actually see transit as part of a bundle of services that are tied up with hip, urban living.”

Given the under-35 generation’s tendency to feel positive about using transit, it might be natural for some urban planners to presume that if you build a light-rail or bus line, the millennial riders will come. However, transit agency executives shouldn’t take those attitudes for granted, says Goldberg.

“Transit agencies right now have a really good opportunity that I’m not sure they’re capitalizing on to the degree that they could,” he says. “To attract and keep these riders, it’s really about patron services. It’s thinking in a more agile way about the change that’s underfoot and the incredible energy that could support the growth for transit.” Agencies need to be nimble at adapting to new technology. They should structure their systems to take full advantage of smartphone technology that provides real-time information and other data about what’s going on with their system, Goldberg says. They also should employ technology that helps riders connect with last-mile services such as bike share, Uber or Zipcar, he believes.

Marketing to a younger audience

Transit-industry executives whose agencies are aiming to attract millennial-age riders observe that the generation presents different challenges than previous generations when it comes to marketing and communications.

“They’re the most tech-savvy generation, and they’re the most cynical when it comes to traditional advertising versus word of mouth, recommendations from friends and social networks,” says Nevin Grinnell, chief marketing officer and vice president of marketing communications for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART).

Moreover, millennials grew up in tough economic times and are getting their driver’s license later in life. Those two things bode well for public transportation, Grinnell says. Consequently, DART is using technology in new ways to reach millennial-age customers. One example is the “GoPass,” which DART launched in September 2013. The mobile ticketing application allows purchasers to use smartphones to buy a regional pass that’s good for rides on DART light-rail trains and buses, as well as at neighboring transit agencies in Fort Worth and Denton County, Texas.

“So far the response has been phenomenal,” Grinnell says. “We have over 350,000 downloads to date, and we’ve solicited over a million transactions.”

Social media helps raise awareness

In addition to buying a ticket to ride, the app features tools that enable users to plan their trips around North Texas. The idea is to give public transit riders all the information they need in the palm of their hand.

DART created a Facebook page specifically to encourage DART riders to use the GoPass app.

“With the Facebook page, we found that people started asking questions about how to use the app, and instead of DART getting involved to answer the questions, we saw a lot of our potential riders and tech-savvy people in the community answering their questions,” says Grinnell. “That told us that we can put the app out there and drive the awareness, but we need to make sure we are encouraging the community to get involved and drive that information.”

DART has relied on other social media tools such as Twitter to drive information about the agency.

“We want to be the first source of what’s happening on DART,” explains Grinnell.

As part of that goal, the agency hired a digital media specialist formerly with The Dallas Morning News to write DART Daily, a blog about behind-the-scenes news and trends associated with the public transit system. One recent DART Daily blog post, for example, informed readers about student artwork — created for a DART contest — on display at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Operations communications staff in the agency’s train control center monitor customer comments on DART’s social media networks to respond to concerns or questions, says Morgan Lyons, DART’s assistant vice president of communications and community engagement.

“What social media allows us to do is maintain an ongoing communication with our customer or prospective customer,” says Lyons. “It allows us to put a more human face on the system.”

At Sound Transit in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, millennials make up the heart of the agency’s ridership: 29 percent are in the 25- to 34-year-old age group, and another 17 percent are between 18 and 24 years old, according to Craig Davison, executive director of communications and external affairs. That means the agency has to be at the top of its game when it comes to marketing its services to the millennial generation.

Sound Transit still relies on traditional television advertising to get its message out to the general population, especially as the agency continues to build rail extensions and open new stations.

“Television is still the most effective way to reach the broadest audience,” says Davison, who joined Sound Transit a year ago after a 12-year stint at Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox. One of the agency’s TV ads features two millennial-age women in a car stuck in traffic. The passenger encourages the driver to “unwind” and use Sound Transit services to avoid the stress and wasted time spent behind the wheel. The spot, which could speak to any adult rider, wraps up with the message: “Ride the Wave of the future” on Sound Transit.

But to reach millennials specifically, Sound Transit also has ramped up activity on social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Twitter has been an especially powerful tool for the agency to respond directly to riders’ questions about service issues, Davison says. And, the agency is advancing a plan to create cellular access for mobile phone use in tunnels.

Whether it’s for a TV or social media campaign, Sound Transit creates brand elements — such as humor — that research has shown to play well with the millennial crowd, Davison says. The agency is now preparing a TV campaign that will feature millennial-age comedians as a way to engage riders and potential riders.

Humor also is a central theme for the Regional Transportation Authority‘s (RTA) “Ride On” campaign, a two-year, $5 million effort to raise awareness of public transportation in Chicago. The promotions highlight the convenience of riding Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Metra trains or the Pace bus system to avoid driving in and around a major urban area that’s notorious for its traffic congestion.

Although the campaign is aimed at attracting riders of all ages, millennials are a key demographic being targeted, says Mark Minor, who serves on RTA’s marketing and planning team and is shepherding the campaign. About 79 percent of millennials surveyed by RTA in 2012 said they use transit systems five or more times a week, compared with 70 percent of the rest of surveyed transit riders, he says.

Slated to run through summer 2017, the campaign features television and online advertisements, and the use of digital billboards throughout the Chicago area. Some of the ads intentionally feature millennial-age people riding CTA or Metra trains. The ads focus on transit’s benefits: convenience, increased productivity (you can read on the train) and cost savings.

“We hit on those major points and do so in a humorous way, which is attractive to millennials,” says Minor.

Although millennials compared with other demographic groups are more inclined to use public transportation systems, ongoing brand awareness is critically important in a large market like Chicago, where the stream of millennials moving into or visiting the city is constant, Minor says.

Ride Metra to Lollapalooza

Although Metra doesn’t offer promotions specifically for millennials, some of what the commuter railroad does offer no doubt reaches the under 35 crowd more so than other age groups, says Metra spokesman Michael Gillis.

“Those would include promoting off-peak travel, especially on weekends, where we hope to convince young adults to use our trains to reach downtown activities,” Gillis said in an email.

Examples include an $8 weekend pass for unlimited rides on Saturdays and Sundays. Last summer, Metra also offered a special $10 pass for rail travel to the three-day Lollapalooza music festival at Grant Park in Chicago, an event that’s popular with millennials. Metra plans to repeat the Lollapalooza promotion during this summer’s festival, Gillis said.

“Our use of more digital marketing, such as on Pandora, likely also appeals more heavily to the millennial demographic,” he says. “We also have car-sharing partnerships at some stations and we promote bike-sharing, two things that would appeal to young adults without cars.”

And this spring, Metra — along with CTA and Pace — plans to roll out a new mobile ticketing app that will allow riders to buy and display tickets on their smartphones.

In Atlanta, the Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority’s “MARTA On the Go” app provides scheduling and real-time information and service alerts for trains and buses. The transit agency plans to launch a new version of the app that will feature mobile payment ability as well as a tool that will help riders plan seamless station-to-destination trips via Uber, says MARTA spokeswoman Saba Long.

MARTA also is stepping up its use of social media to communicate with riders, and has a plan in place to equip trains and buses with wireless Internet access.

And, aware that employers increasingly seek to locate near transit stations, the agency is analyzing ways to better integrate transit service with riders’ lifestyles. That way, riding a MARTA train not only would be convenient, but interesting and relevant to their daily lives. MARTA Chief Executive Officer Keith Parker’s initiative known by the acronym SEAT — for service, economic, arts and technology — features strategies that aim to do that in ways that will appeal to the under 35 set, says Long.

“The things the millennials are asking for involve better customer service and being more responsive to the needs of the customer,” she says. “And if something is beneficial to millennials, it will be beneficial to the overall riding population.”

Keeping millennials’ interests, lifestyles and needs in mind will be important for transit agency executives to successfully plan for the future, says Transportation for America’s Goldberg. It will mean thinking about transit holistically, as a part of an environment where people want to live, work and play, he says.

DART’s Grinnell says his agency is already on that track. Next month, DART will launch a brand “repositioning” that will convey the idea that DART is a rider’s ticket to exciting places in and around Dallas.

“People aren’t riding DART just to ride, they’re riding DART to get to places. So, we want to incorporate a lot of those places and really enhance that sense of discovery,” Grinnell says. “Going forward, we’re looking at establishing a campaign that highlights places that maybe people didn’t think of or know about before. We’re calling them ‘DART-able gems,’ or places you can access via DART.”

DART officials have been consumer-testing the new concept, which they see as a potential benefit for the city of Dallas as well as the agency.

Says Grinnell: “We received a lot of positive feedback about it — not just from millennials, but from a broad sample of customers who said this is something that’s part of our city and makes us look cool and hip.”

Email questions or comments to julie.sneider@tradepress.com

Penney Vanderbilt’s New WebSite. Great WebSite from World’s Greatest Blogger!

Well readers, I just finished my newly renovated WebSite: WWW.OMINOUSWEATHER.COM/Penney.html

The first feature we like is Penney”s Best Blogs. The ranking of these sites is from YOU, not me. We start out with the Troy Union Railroad.

It does not exist anymore so maybe it is a “folk lore” attraction? There are several other railroad blogs on the most popular list.

“Folk lore” is very popular. Check out “

The Tobin Packing Company of Albany (Makers of First Prize Hot Dogs)

Don’t forget that in addition to my very popular blog, that we have three other popular blogs. I am the “big mama” of the group and decide what I want to publish. KC Jones picks up some of the blogs I can’t get to. The Ancien Hippie marches to his own drummer. Being the oldest and wisest in the group. Yes he can be opinionated, but he is loveable. Our young Crazy Pasta Child looks for new and different topics.

There are over 400 Web Pages you can reach from my WebSite!!!!!

Some have been blogged, some not.

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Saratoga and North Creek, which operates passenger trains between Saratoga Springs and North Creek, and freight trains between Saratoga Springs and Tahawus, also runs snow trains in the winter months and the Polar Express during the Christmas holiday period. The railroad is looking at expanding service to the Albany-Rensselaer train station. While it connects with Amtrak’s Adirondack services at Saratoga, the Rensselaer station has far more Amtrak service. Saratoga & North Creek Railway is looking into the feasibility of extending passenger train service to Rensselaer to better serve passengers aiming to head north.

When and When Not To Deviate From Standards

What do we mean by “deviating from EDI Standards”? Experience has shown that in-place EDI Standards, coupled with adequate “Trading Partner Conventions” are a very strong and robust set of tools. The Standards are “bigger than a bread box” and hold the possibility of solving any trading partner issues that arise.
I first searched online for any instances of “deviating from EDI Standards”. Not finding anything of value to report, I searched numerous EDI vendors for their stance on the subject. The first one I ran into stated that there will always be deviations from EDI Standards: Over the years, they have seen almost every EDI standards varied. As dedicated professionals, they simply meet the needs of their user, at no additional cost or fuss.

The next vendor stated that EDI Standards are the broad set of rules from which no EDI partner can deviate. Like a sporting event, the standards committee sets the rules of play so that every party can freely participate. It’s the individual ground rules of the EDI partners that vary from EDI partnership to EDI partnership.

Others feel there are ways around data issues. “There is freedom all around us in EDI.  The trick is to find it and take it.“ If, for example, that MSG segment (and ANSI 864) wasn’t allowed in EDI – and if it was confining and restrictive – we wouldn’t be able to send some of the information to our trading partners that ARE important. Well, it is allowed and the Standards have many other ways to help. Count the number of times the word “OTHER” occurs in the documentation. Segments, Elements, and Qualifiers are all designed to keep us from having to deviate from standards.

But am I the only one screaming from the sidelines that “Trading Partner Conventions” are a vital part of any EDI Relationship?