February 22nd, 2011 by Jay Corbalis
We’re a few months late on this — it’s already been covered ably by numerous other blogs – but the New Jersey angle is interesting enough to warrant a post here. (As an aside: this is a perfect example of something that used to get sent around the New Jersey Future office by email but never made it farther than that. In fact, this was sent around the office by our Research Director Tim Evans back in December. One of the reasons we started this blog was to have a forum to share some of these interesting tidbits with the world beyond West Hanover Street.)
The folks at verysmallarray.com (an excellent info-graphics blog) created a map to illustrate the most common searches for each state name, using Google’s AutoComplete feature. There are a lot of interesting and surprising results here, from a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the Second Amendment (District of Columbia v. Heller) to a popular soccer bar in Manhattan (Nevada Smiths), but only one transit agency made the cut. That’s right, the most popular Google search (at least for December 3, the date this graph was created, though it still holds true today, at least for New Jersey) starting with New Jersey is NJ Transit. (Go ahead, try it!)
Now, as advocates of public transportation, we’d like to think this reflects New Jersey residents’ overwhelming devotion to transit. And that may be part of it (New Jersey does have the second highest rate of transit ridership in the nation), but it’s easy to think of other reasons for this result, as well. Unlike virtually every other state, New Jersey’s largest university is not New Jersey State (sorry, TCNJ). Nor do we have a major football team, a nationally read newspaper or a worldwide fried chicken joint namesake. (Though somebody should get on that; NJ Fried Chicken anyone?) Still, bus and train schedules lend themselves to Googling, and NJ Transit is by far the largest statewide transit agency in the nation. Based on those facts, NJ Transit will likely remain New Jersey’s dominant search result for the foreseeable future … unless the agency decides to privatize its name, too….