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10 West Passage Pooled Fund) recognized the value of Travelers have expressed interest in gas and rest stops, interagency information sharing to promote continuity distances to destinations, tourism information, and of interregional travel. In addition to the physical data food locations. exchanges needed, however, they recognized the need for each agency to use consistent phrases with uniform definitions. Using the example of a traveler taking a trip Expectations Of Travelers through North Dakota and Minnesota, assume that one snow storm were to blanket both states with consistent In 1997, a set of 12 focus groups in six jurisdictions (New snowfall across the region. If the conditions in Minnesota York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Los were manually entered as "blizzard conditions," whereas Angeles, and Orange County, California) conducted by the conditions in North Dakota were manually entered as Charles River Associates captured the opinions of drivers "snow" (describing the same event), travelers might falsely about user expectations of critical components of a traveler be led to believe that conditions were worse in Minnesota, information system (Charles River Associates Inc. 1997). when actually they were the same. The opinions of travelers were based on current traveler information practices at the time, which primarily included Travelers expect uniform descriptions of their entire route television and radio. A number of additional surveys since of travel from origin to destination. Interregional travel 1997 have confirmed these opinions. Traveler expectations involving multiple jurisdictions and potentially long travel for traveler information systems include the following: times presents a complicated challenge. Accuracy Rural Travelers (Commercial or Recreational) Timeliness Reliability Rural travel differs from urban and interregional travel in Convenience (ease of access and speed) several ways: Safety (of operation) Although nonrecurring incidents (such as crashes) may Through research conducted by the John A. Volpe Trans- be less frequent, the response and clearance time is portation Center, researchers assessed the expectations of often much greater. Because there are typically fewer drivers with experience using traveler information systems known route options, a crash on a rural route can cause to understand a more detailed set of requirements and expec- extremely long backups until clearance is completed. tations. This research found that experienced travelers seek The limited services (e.g., food, lodging, emergency the following (Lappin 2000): response) combined with inclement weather creates a more dangerous situation when weather events occur. Camera views that portray road conditions Unlike metropolitan areas where shelter and services Detailed information on incidents are nearby, rural travelers can remain stranded for days Direct measures of speed for each highway segment in extreme conditions that pose serious health risks. Travel time between user-selected origins and desti The long range of travel means that travelers often are nations not able to observe the conditions for their entire trip. Coverage of all major freeways and arterials It is not uncommon for rural travelers to begin trips En route access to good traffic information in clear conditions and encounter snow or ice within hours of departing. Transit riders and travelers who are seeking information to support their choice of mode, have a separate set of needs In summary, traveler information needs of rural travelers for traveler information. These needs include various types are summarized as follows: of static information (such as bus schedule information, fare information, security information, safety information, Information about current and short-term future accessibility information, and overall summaries of services weather and road conditions and information about offered). In addition, transit travelers have a set of needs for accidents and other incidents are consistently highest real-time transit information such as updated real-time bus in priority for rural travelers. arrival and departure information and service changes or The second highest priority is information about outages (e.g., related to a crash or weather event). Finally, planned or unplanned events (incidents or roadwork) regular transit riders seeking information to help reach an that cause lengthy delays. unfamiliar area, or occasional transit users who are search- Travelers have stated a need for directions to their ing for transit options have a need for transit trip planning destination. services. Transit trip planning services are most often inter- Travelers have noted the need for travel times and tour- active systems on the Internet that allow users to enter origin ism information. and destination addresses and receive step-by-step direc-

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11 tions for using transit to reach the destination (Burks and Travelers' Satisfaction with the Current Systems Waddell 2001). In the survey of agencies currently operating traveler infor- Current Traveler Information Systems Ability to Meet mation systems, agencies were asked whether they believed Travelers' Expectations that travelers were satisfied with the coverage and delivery methods of their traveler information systems (based on In the survey of agencies operating traveler information sys- feedback received from travelers). The results are presented tems conducted within this project, agencies were asked to in Figures 4 and 5. rank how well their individual systems (511 and Web) meet the expectations of travelers in both rural and metro areas. In summary, the majority of negative feedback received The agencies' replies are presented in Figures 2 and 3. about traveler information systems has related to the FIGURE 2 Assessment of how well current 511 systems meet expectations on a scale of 1 to 10. FIGURE 3 Assessment of how well current traveler information websites meet expectations on a scale of 1 to 10.