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17 CHAPTER FOUR CURRENT STATUS OF TRAVELER INFORMATION This section presents a synopsis of current traveler infor- Often, common elements of traveler information web- mation delivery throughout the United States. The primary sites delivering information for metropolitan areas emphasis is on 511 phone systems and traveler information include the availability of real-time traffic condition websites; however, field devices, in-vehicle devices, and per- reports offered as travel-time reports, traffic speed sonal mobile devices are also referenced. reports, crash notifications, and views of camera images along heavily traveled highways. Common ele- ments of traveler information websites delivering rural Summary Of The Current Status Of Traveler information include weather, driving conditions, and Information roadwork, incident, or closure reports. In 2009, travelers have a variety of sources for traveler Dynamic Message Signs (DMS ) are visible to drivers information. through the windshield or dashboard (the dashboard can be considered to include the line of sight visible out the front Public-operated 511 phone systems are available free of windshield) at no cost to drivers and without any need for charge to callers. Forty-two public-operated 511 phone sys- devices. Currently, dissemination occurs predominantly on tems in 33 states offer coverage to 128 million Americans freeways. Industry experts believe that DMS use on high (47% of the population). Public 511 phone systems are avail- speed arterials will expand over the coming 10 years. able to anyone with access to a telephone. Based on the find- ings of this synopsis: Private sector traveler information providers offer web, phone, or special devices (e.g., navigation system or hand- User feedback continues to be positive toward 511 held devices) primarily in metropolitan areas; however, phone systems, and call volumes for the majority of some products are now expanded to include rural areas. systems continue to increase each year. Incident and event reports (including roadwork, Private-operated news and media outlets disseminate crashes, and road closures) are common among 511 traffic, weather, and event information over radio and televi- phone systems. However, few systems present daily sion broadcasts. The majority of traffic and event informa- details about the impacts of roadwork activities. tion describes metropolitan areas. Although weather and road condition reports are com- mon to many 511 phone systems, only a limited num- Transit-specific traveler information systems are oper- ber of systems present detailed route-specific weather ated by a variety of public and private service providers. forecasts that are available with today's technologies. Transit traveler information systems range from human-op- erated phone systems to complex vehicle tracking systems Public-operated traveler information system websites are tied to automated phone and Internet delivery systems. One also available free of charge to users. Each of the 50 states example of a geographic area with a comprehensive transit offers some form of traveler information website. Based on traveler information system is the Tri-County Metropolitan the findings of this synopsis: Transportation District of Oregon (Tri-Met). Tri-Met oper- ates a real-time traveler information system for transit riders. Many public agencies first deployed traveler informa- The Tri-Met system includes an online transit trip planner tion websites when the majority of Internet users did offering statewide transit trip planning services. Tri-Met not have high-speed connections. Therefore, initial tracks transit vehicles using Automated Vehicle Location mapping technologies often included static map views (AVL) and offers updated arrival and departure times on that lacked sophisticated zoom capabilities. Many both the website and traveler information phone system. agencies are now operating (or in the process of build- These updates allow riders to call a phone number or visit the ing) second- or third-generation Internet display sys- website to view the real-time arrival of their bus. An example tems with increased performance. of a private-operated transit trip planning system is operated