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TRANSIT TCRP REPORT 134 COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration Transit, Call Centers, and 511: A Guide for Decision Makers

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TCRP OVERSIGHT AND PROJECT TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD 2009 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE* SELECTION COMMITTEE* CHAIR OFFICERS Robert I. Brownstein AECOM Consult, Inc. CHAIR: Adib K. Kanafani, Cahill Professor of Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley VICE CHAIR: Michael R. Morris, Director of Transportation, North Central Texas Council of MEMBERS Governments, Arlington Ann August Santee Wateree Regional Transportation Authority EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Transportation Research Board John Bartosiewicz McDonald Transit Associates MEMBERS Michael Blaylock J. Barry Barker, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY Jacksonville Transportation Authority Linda J. Bohlinger Allen D. Biehler, Secretary, Pennsylvania DOT, Harrisburg HNTB Corp. Larry L. Brown, Sr., Executive Director, Mississippi DOT, Jackson Raul Bravo Deborah H. Butler, Executive Vice President, Planning, and CIO, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Raul V. Bravo & Associates Norfolk, VA Gregory Cook Veolia Transportation William A.V. Clark, Professor, Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles Terry Garcia Crews David S. Ekern, Commissioner, Virginia DOT, Richmond StarTran Nicholas J. Garber, Henry L. Kinnier Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nathaniel P. Ford, Jr. Virginia, Charlottesville SF Municipal Transportation Agency Jeffrey W. Hamiel, Executive Director, Metropolitan Airports Commission, Minneapolis, MN Kim R. Green GFI GENFARE Edward A. (Ned) Helme, President, Center for Clean Air Policy, Washington, DC Jill A. Hough Will Kempton, Director, California DOT, Sacramento North Dakota State University Susan Martinovich, Director, Nevada DOT, Carson City Angela Iannuzziello Debra L. Miller, Secretary, Kansas DOT, Topeka ENTRA Consultants Neil J. Pedersen, Administrator, Maryland State Highway Administration, Baltimore John Inglish Utah Transit Authority Pete K. Rahn, Director, Missouri DOT, Jefferson City Jeanne W. Krieg Sandra Rosenbloom, Professor of Planning, University of Arizona, Tucson Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority Tracy L. Rosser, Vice President, Corporate Traffic, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, AR David A. Lee Rosa Clausell Rountree, Consultant, Tyrone, GA Connecticut Transit Clarence W. Marsella Steve T. Scalzo, Chief Operating Officer, Marine Resources Group, Seattle, WA Denver Regional Transportation District Henry G. (Gerry) Schwartz, Jr., Chairman (retired), Jacobs/Sverdrup Civil, Inc., St. Louis, MO Gary W. McNeil C. Michael Walton, Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering, University of Texas, Austin GO Transit Linda S. Watson, CEO, LYNXCentral Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Orlando Michael P. Melaniphy Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO, Maverick Transportation, Inc., Little Rock, AR Motor Coach Industries Frank Otero PACO Technologies EX OFFICIO MEMBERS Keith Parker Thad Allen (Adm., U.S. Coast Guard), Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, Washington, DC Charlotte Area Transit System Jeffrey Rosenberg Rebecca M. Brewster, President and COO, American Transportation Research Institute, Smyrna, GA Amalgamated Transit Union George Bugliarello, President Emeritus and University Professor, Polytechnic Institute of New York Michael Scanlon University, Brooklyn; Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, DC San Mateo County Transit District James E. Caponiti, Acting Deputy Administrator, Maritime Administration, U.S.DOT Beverly Scott Cynthia Douglass, Acting Deputy Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority James S. Simpson Administration, U.S.DOT FTA LeRoy Gishi, Chief, Division of Transportation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the James Stem Interior, Washington, DC United Transportation Union Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads, Washington, DC Frank Tobey John C. Horsley, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation First Transit Officials, Washington, DC EX OFFICIO MEMBERS Rose A. McMurry, Acting Deputy Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S.DOT William W. Millar Ronald Medford, Acting Deputy Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, APTA U.S.DOT Robert E. Skinner, Jr. TRB William W. Millar, President, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC John C. Horsley Lynne A. Osmus, Acting Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S.DOT AASHTO Jeffrey F. Paniati, Acting Deputy Administrator and Executive Director, Federal Highway Administration, Jeffrey F. Paniati U.S.DOT FHWA Steven K. Smith, Acting Deputy Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, TDC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR U.S.DOT Louis Sanders Jo Strang, Acting Deputy Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, U.S.DOT APTA Robert L. Van Antwerp (Lt. Gen., U.S. Army), Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, SECRETARY U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC Christopher W. Jenks Matthew Welbes, Executive Director and Acting Deputy Administrator, Federal Transit Administration, TRB U.S.DOT *Membership as of February 2009. *Membership as of February 2009.

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TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM TCRP REPORT 134 Transit, Call Centers, and 511: A Guide for Decision Makers BATTELLE Columbus, OH TRANSYSTEMS Boston, MA OAK SQUARE RESOURCES Brighton, MA Subject Areas Planning and Administration Public Transit Research sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD WASHINGTON, D.C. 2009 www.TRB.org

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TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM TCRP REPORT 134 The nation's growth and the need to meet mobility, environmental, Project A-31 and energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Current ISSN 1073-4872 systems, some of which are old and in need of upgrading, must expand ISBN 978-0-309-11789-0 service area, increase service frequency, and improve efficiency to serve Library of Congress Control Number 2009931478 these demands. Research is necessary to solve operating problems, to 2009 Transportation Research Board adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and to intro- duce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions COPYRIGHT PERMISSION to meet demands placed on it. Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special Report published or copyrighted material used herein. 213--Research for Public Transit: New Directions, published in 1987 Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this and based on a study sponsored by the Urban Mass Transportation publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the Administration--now the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). A understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), FMCSA, FTA, or Transit Development Corporation endorsement of a particular product, Transportation 2000, also recognized the need for local, problem- method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of solving research. TCRP, modeled after the longstanding and success- any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission ful National Cooperative Highway Research Program, undertakes from CRP. research and other technical activities in response to the needs of tran- sit service providers. The scope of TCRP includes a variety of transit research fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, NOTICE facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and The project that is the subject of this report was a part of the Transit Cooperative Research administrative practices. Program conducted by the Transportation Research Board with the approval of the TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Pro- Governing Board of the National Research Council. Such approval reflects the Governing posed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was autho- Board's judgment that the project concerned is appropriate with respect to both the rized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act purposes and resources of the National Research Council. of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum agreement out- The members of the technical advisory panel selected to monitor this project and to review lining TCRP operating procedures was executed by the three cooper- this report were chosen for recognized scholarly competence and with due consideration for the balance of disciplines appropriate to the project. The opinions and conclusions ating organizations: FTA, the National Academies, acting through the expressed or implied are those of the research agency that performed the research, and Transportation Research Board (TRB); and the Transit Development while they have been accepted as appropriate by the technical panel, they are not Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a nonprofit educational and research orga- necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board, the National Research Council, nization established by APTA. TDC is responsible for forming the the Transit Development Corporation, or the Federal Transit Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. independent governing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee. Each report is reviewed and accepted for publication by the technical panel according to procedures established and monitored by the Transportation Research Board Executive Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodically but Committee and the Governing Board of the National Research Council. may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the responsibility The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, the National Research of the TOPS Committee to formulate the research program by identi- Council, the Transit Development Corporation, and the Federal Transit Administration fying the highest priority projects. As part of the evaluation, the TOPS (sponsor of the Transit Cooperative Research Program) do not endorse products or Committee defines funding levels and expected products. manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers' names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the clarity and completeness of the project reporting. Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel, appointed by the Transportation Research Board. The panels prepare project state- ments (requests for proposals), select contractors, and provide techni- cal guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for developing research problem statements and selecting research agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative research pro- grams since 1962. As in other TRB activities, TCRP project panels serve voluntarily without compensation. Because research cannot have the desired impact if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on dissemi- Published reports of the nating TCRP results to the intended end users of the research: tran- sit agencies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other support- are available from: ing material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for Transportation Research Board workshops, training aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure Business Office that results are implemented by urban and rural transit industry 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 practitioners. The TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can cooperatively and can be ordered through the Internet at address common operational problems. The TCRP results support and http://www.national-academies.org/trb/bookstore complement other ongoing transit research and training programs. Printed in the United States of America

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COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAMS CRP STAFF FOR TCRP REPORT 134 Christopher W. Jenks, Director, Cooperative Research Programs Crawford F. Jencks, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs Lawrence D. Goldstein, Senior Program Officer Eileen P. Delaney, Director of Publications Natalie Barnes, Editor TCRP PROJECT A-31 PANEL Field of Operations Robin Cody, Jeskell, Inc., Concord, CA (Chair) Madinah Ali, MSA Global Advisory Group, Decatur, GA Rob Andresen, First Transit, Inc., Denver, CO Sandra J. Check, New Jersey Transit Corporation, Kearny, NJ Mark Hickman, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ Jianling Li, University of Texas--Arlington, TX Barbara A. Parker, Orlando, FL Patricia E. Vidaurri, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, TX Raj Wagley, FTA Liaison Jane Hardin, Community Transportation Association of America Liaison Louis F. Sanders, APTA Liaison Richard A. Cunard, TRB Liaison AUTHOR ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The research reported herein was performed under TCRP Project A-31 by Battelle Memorial Institute, TranSystems Corporation, and Oak Square Resources. The work undertaken by TranSystems and Oak Square Resources was under a subcontract with Battelle. Matt Burt, Senior Research Scientist, Battelle, was the principal investigator. The other authors of this report are Carol Schweiger, Vice President, TranSystems; Santosh Mishra, Transportation Planner, Tran- Systems; and Susan Bregman, Principal, Oak Square Resources. The work was done under the general supervision of Mr. Burt. The work at TranSystems was done under the supervision of Ms. Schweiger.

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FOREWORD By Lawrence D. Goldstein Staff Officer Transportation Research Board TCRP Report 134: Transit, Call Centers, and 511: A Guide for Decision Makers provides a com- prehensive review of the operational characteristics of 511 telephone traveler information sys- tems and how 511 systems interact with transit system call centers. This report inventories exist- ing 511 systems throughout the country, documents the extent of transit participation and transit agency experiences with 511, and presents guidance to assist transit agencies and 511 sys- tem administrators in determining a viable transit-511 telephone strategy. When in July 2000 the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) designated "5-1-1" as the three-digit telephone number for access to traveler information nationally, it was envisioned as a central source of highway and public transportation information for the traveling public. Once, designated, however, implementation procedures as well as funding options were left entirely to state and local agencies. In response, transit agencies expressed concern that the 511 system would ultimately affect their call center operations by generat- ing a significant increase in call volume, requiring both additional staffing and costs. By March 2009, there were forty-two 511 traveler information systems operating throughout the country with varying degrees of transit system interaction. Battelle Memo- rial Institute, under TCRP Project A-31, interviewed the operators of those systems along with nearly thirty transit agencies to explore current interactions, perceived and actual oper- ational difficulties, impact on call center cost and quality of service, and opportunities for future improvements. Based on an evaluation of those interviews and information gathered from a transit-rider focus group, the researchers provide guidance on formulating transit- 511 telephone strategies appropriate to varying local conditions, needs, and resources. The researchers also explore implications for transit agency application of available and emerg- ing telephone customer information technologies. The guide addresses a wide range of factors that vary by region, and that variation is important in understanding how and why approaches to implementing 511 systems differ. These factors include the importance of providing multi-modal (traffic and transit) infor- mation through a single-phone system; the necessity to provide consolidated information for multiple transit agencies; the often greater demand by transit information seekers for more complex information (including schedule, route and trip-planning information) that is not adequately addressed through an automated system like 511; and the relative visibil- ity of and awareness by transit information seekers of the "5-1-1" number versus local tran- sit customer service center numbers. Transit agencies can use the results of this study in three primary ways. First, they can consider the state-of-the-practice information and recommendations on call center tech- nologies and practices to reassess their own practices. Second, they can use the information

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on current transit 511-related practices and experiences to expand their overall understand- ing of the potential role of 511 as part of a comprehensive call center/customer information strategy. Third, they can use the 511 guidance to decide whether and how to pursue partic- ipation in the 511 phone system or, if they are already participating, to reassess their level of and expectations from that participation. The study presents several key findings: (1) few 511 systems include even basic transit content and features recommended by the national 511 Deployment Coalition; (2) few transit agencies or 511 system administrators cite any significant adverse impacts associated with their 511 telephone system participation; and (3) in most regions, even modest bene- fits of transit participation in 511 phone systems justify participation. Significant benefits are most likely realizable primarily in certain environments--those with multiple transit providers and significant numbers of travelers who make day-to-day mode choice decisions based on a combination of traffic and transit information. Significant benefits can also include relief to transit call centers by providing a one-stop shop for comprehensive traffic and transit information.

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CONTENTS 1 Summary 8 Chapter 1 Overview 8 1.1 Background 9 1.2 Objectives 9 1.3 Research Tasks 10 Chapter 2 Research Approach 10 2.1 Literature Review 10 2.2 National Inventory of Operational 511 Systems 11 2.3 Transit Agency Case Studies 13 2.4 Non-Transit Call Center Interviews 14 2.5 511 System Administrator Interviews 14 2.6 Transit Rider Focus Group 17 Chapter 3 Findings and Applications 17 3.1 Transit Agency Telephone Information Strategies 17 3.1.1 Overall Customer Information Approaches 17 3.1.1.1 Customer Information Needs and Preferences 18 3.1.1.2 Information Provided by Transit Agencies 19 3.1.1.3 Dissemination Methods/Technologies Utilized 20 3.1.1.4 Matching Dissemination Methods/Technologies with Customer Needs and Preferences 22 3.1.2 Transit Call Center Strategies 22 3.1.2.1 Central versus Decentralized Call Centers 22 3.1.2.2 Hours of Operation and Staffing 22 3.1.2.3 Technologies 25 3.1.2.4 Metrics 26 3.1.3 Implications of Agency Size and Type 28 3.2 Telephone Information Strategies of Other Organizations 28 3.2.1 Similarities and Differences between Transit and Non-Transit Call Centers 28 3.2.2 Implications for Transit Agencies 29 3.3 Overview of Transit Agency Involvement in 511 Systems 29 3.3.1 Transit-Related 511 Guidelines from the 511 Deployment Coalition 29 3.3.2 Extent and Type of Involvement 29 3.3.2.1 Operational 511 Systems 30 3.3.2.2 Transit Agency Participation in 511 Systems 32 3.3.2.3 Transit Participation in Relation to 511 Deployment Coalition Guidelines 32 3.3.2.4 References from 511 Systems to 211 or 311 32 3.3.3 Differences between 511-Integrated and Non-Integrated Agencies 32 3.3.3.1 Customer Information and Call Center Approaches 33 3.3.3.2 Participation in Non-511 Traveler Information Systems

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34 3.3.4 Transit-Related 511 Operating Statistics 35 3.4 Transit Agency Case Studies 36 3.4.1 Transit Agencies Integrated with 511 36 3.4.1.1 Arizona 511 38 3.4.1.2 El Dorado Transit (Sacramento California, Area) 39 3.4.1.3 Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky 39 3.4.1.4 Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority 40 3.4.1.5 Island Explorer (Bar Harbor, Maine) 41 3.4.1.6 Duluth Transit Authority (Minnesota) 41 3.4.1.7 Charlotte Area Transit (North Carolina) 42 3.4.1.8 San Diego 511 45 3.4.1.9 Sun Tran (St. George, Utah) 45 3.4.1.10 Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority 46 3.4.1.11 Blacksburg Transit (Virginia) 46 3.4.1.12 Southeast Florida 511 52 3.4.1.13 San Francisco Bay Area 511 62 3.4.2 Transit Agencies with a Presence on 511 but No Integration 62 3.4.2.1 Manchester Transit Authority (New Hampshire) 63 3.4.2.2 Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (Tampa Bay) 63 3.4.2.3 King County Metro Transit (Seattle) 64 3.4.3 Transit Agencies with No 511 Presence 64 3.4.3.1 Anchorage People Mover (Alaska) 64 3.4.3.2 Regional Transit District (Denver) 65 3.4.3.3 Iowa 511 65 3.4.3.4 Tri-Met (Portland) 66 3.5 Interviews with 511 System Administrators 66 3.5.1 Rationale for Transit Content Decisions 67 3.5.2 Satisfaction with Current Content and Plans for Changes 67 3.5.3 Transit Agency Funding Participation 67 3.5.4 Transit-Related 511 Operating Statistics 67 3.6 Transit Rider Focus Group 68 3.6.1 Automated Telephone Information about Transit 68 3.6.2 Transit Information on 511 70 Chapter 4 Conclusions and Recommendations 70 4.1 Conclusions 70 4.1.1 Transit Agency Participation in 511 Systems 70 4.1.1.1 National Overview of 511 Systems and Transit Participation 71 4.1.1.2 Influence of Transit Agency Size, Call Center Sophistication and Participation in Other Traveler Information Systems 71 4.1.1.3 Transit Rationale for Participation/Non-Participation in 511 72 4.1.1.4 Impacts of 511 Participation on Transit Agencies 74 4.1.1.5 Transit Agencies' 511 Plans 74 4.1.2 Perspectives of 511 System Administrators on Transit Participation 74 4.1.2.1 Buy-In on 511 as a Multimodal Resource 75 4.1.2.2 Coordination between 511 and Transit 75 4.1.2.3 Transit 511 Website Participation

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75 4.1.3 Transit Customer Perspectives on 511 75 4.1.3.1 Viability of Automated Transit Telephone Information 75 4.1.3.2 Transit Information on 511 76 4.1.4 Transit Agency Call Center Strategies 76 4.1.4.1 The Role of the Telephone in Transit Customer Information 77 4.1.4.2 Implications of Telephone Information Strategies of Non-Transit Organizations 77 4.2 Recommendations 77 4.2.1 Guidance for Determining a Specific 511 Strategy 77 4.2.1.1 General Recommendations on the Applicability of Basic and Additional Transit Information on 511 78 4.2.1.2 Basic Transit Information 79 4.2.1.3 Additional Transit Information 79 4.2.2 Transit Utilization of Advanced Telephone Customer Service Technologies and Practices 79 4.2.2.1 Consider Greater Utilization of Proven, Advanced Technologies and Techniques 81 4.2.2.2 Consider N11 Systems as Part of an Overall Customer Service Strategy 81 4.3 Plan for Implementing the Research Findings 83 References 85 Appendix A Transit Agency Interview Questionnaire 88 Appendix B Transit Rider Focus Group Discussion Guide