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4 CHAPTER one INTRODUCTION Project Background And Objectives websites or 511 phone systems, because descriptions of these systems were documented in the observations of existing Public and private sector agencies strive to deliver accurate, systems (described in the following subsection). reliable, and timely information to travelers to empower them to make informed decisions about their daily trips. Because The survey was sent to 51 unique agencies believed to of limited budgets, ever-changing technologies, and an esca- be operating some form of traveler information system. The lating level of expectation from travelers, the agencies per- survey received a total of 34 unique responses, resulting forming traveler information delivery face many challenges. in a 67% response rate. Although the number of respond- Success stories, lessons learned, and best practices that work ers initially appears low, it is important to remember that for one or more agencies can often benefit several other agen- each responder to the survey was asked to answer questions cies with similar problems. on behalf of their agency and their traveler information system. This synthesis report documents the state of practice in real-time traveler information delivery. The second major activity performed within this synthe- sis was to observe and test as many statewide, regional, and local traveler information systems as possible. The intent of Study Methodology observing the content and presentation of traveler informa- tion systems allowed the authors to avoid asking questions This synthesis project was conducted in five major steps. about content in the online survey, and allowed them to cre- ate map displays in this document to describe the various The first major activity in this synthesis project was the types of content offered nationwide. Although efforts were creation, execution, and analysis of an online survey of pub- taken to accurately observe traveler information systems and lic agencies operating traveler information systems. The document the content and presentation styles, the authors results of this survey are presented throughout the report recognize that it is inevitable that some data or information whenever appropriate. may have been missed in the observations. The survey was created to allow responders to complete The third major activity was a literature review of pre- the questions in 1020 minutes. The survey was adminis- vious studies, evaluations, and research activities. Traveler tered using an online web survey tool and the link to the information systems have been evaluated by a number of survey was distributed individually to contacts in each state federal, state, and locally funded formal evaluations. In or public agency. Recipients of the survey link were asked addition, user benefit analyses and development of intel- to either complete the survey or forward the link to the most ligent transportation system (ITS) architectures have appropriate individual within the agency to provide answers reviewed traveler information systems. A large portion of to the questions. The survey either was sent to only one indi- this synthesis project was a review of these assessments. In vidual from each agency, or if sent to multiple individuals, examining published reports on such things as traveler infor- each individual was informed of the other recipients. The mation needs, user feedback, and documented benefits, con- goal of the survey was to receive feedback from as many siderable information was found, much of which dates back agencies as possible while only receiving one response per to the early 1990s. The authors attempted to synthesize the agency. most relevant and pertinent results of the literature review and have cited the results throughout this report at the most The authors of this project recognized that transporta- appropriate locations. tion professionals receive multiple requests to complete sur- veys. Given time limitations that everyone encounters, the The fourth major activity was a number of in-person approach to this survey was to focus the questions on topics meetings and telephone discussions with a variety of trans- that could not be studied and documented online. Therefore, portation professionals representing both the public and pri- responders were not asked to describe the content of their vate sector industries with experience in one of the following